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Mar 29, 2011 01:56 PM

Tip: Invite your taxi driver to eat with you

I have been relying on taxi drivers mainly for tips on where to dine with some mixed results.

So I am in Costa Rica and ask. The boys get together in a huddle and decide on a restaurant and off I go with one of them. Unfortunately I hit town on the day that Costa Rica is founded so there are marathons and all sorts of things blocking the streets.

We FINALLY get to the restaurant, and I tell the guy to come back in about an hour and a half. He says, nah, I will just wait as the traffic is murder. So, I ask him if he wants to eat with me. He accepts.

I order the ceviche as everyone I talked to on the bus says this is the thing to order in Costa Rica. He orders the seafood soup ... It looks fabulous. It comes with banana ceviche and he order some sort of drink I think is called Cas.

I ask him to show me where the soup is on the menu. He says it is not on the menu. You just have to know. Then he and I start talking about local food. It seems Costa Rica is one of the few places in Central America not hooked on heavily sugared instant coffee. They do not export the good stuff. They drink it at home. He talks about the different times of day they drink and the types they drink. I ask about sugar. He stutters ... of course not, black is perferred for straight drinks.

Anyway, I get loads of other info from him about local eats. I order some seafood soup and plantano ceviche to take back to the motel. Really great stuff.

So much so, that I rearranged my trip back to stay an extra day in San Jose, CR. Great city and he had some other non food stuff that sounds interesting.

So, just throwing it out there as a chowhounding tip. I know people ask cabbies where to eat, but if you take them along, they might really lead you to food they like.

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  1. What a great idea. When l had a fussy driver, fussy in a good way, in France l took him to some meals, some not, but your idea is super.

    1. I bet he enjoyed lunch too. You really have a zest for life and for travel. :)

      1. Yes, that's what we did in Panama. Not only do they know the great places they may be better at negotiating prices.

        1 Reply
        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

          If you have some good Panama City tips, here´s my post from today

          Actually, the guidebook mention of El Traipiche turned out to be excellent. Fabulous hojaldras. However, I gotta eat tommorrow.

          So far the taxi drivers in Panama City make NYC cab drivers seem tranquil ... so I haven´t found a good prospect to ask.

          1. Great idea! But i'm curious about the coffee thing.... my friend is the Peet's Coffee buyer, and he travels to CR quite often, and he once told me they DO ship out the good stuff and don't ever get to taste the good stuff themselves! When we were in CR, the BF didn't like the local coffee (loves Peet's), and i don't drink it, so I don't know. Wish I'd taken a cab while there myself (although, we stayed in a tiny town on the Caribbean side - Cahuita, near the Cahuita Natl' Park - gorgeous- and only spent one night in San Jose) - we didn't find any food of note - just not in the know at all at the time, and not a rabid CHer like I am now. (this was about 9 years ago.) Plus, the BF doesn't eat seafood, so a place like CR is wasted on him, foodwise, and thus was wasted on me.

            But again, great idea in any city, thanks! (When are you back, anyway, isn't it coming up? Are you making the tour of neighboring lands as your trip draws to an end?)

            1 Reply
            1. re: mariacarmen

              I remember hearing the same thing about the coffee when I was there back in the 1990s. Same for the shrimp, which were very very expensive when I was there. And Cahuita - I haven't thought of that place in years. Thanks for the memories!