El Gran Escape looks very local, very rustic, and there is not flash and pop here, just an honest building on one of the main corners in Quepos across the street from the ocean. Inside, it's typical Central American. Great music is playing, ceiling fans are turning, plants are invading from outside to the inside, trophy fish hang on the walls, and two lazy dogs mill around, looking for hand-outs. One of the dogs wears a sign around her neck NOT to feed her, since she is on a diet.
I came at an odd time: mid-afternoon. The place was almost empty. However, the waitress greeted me with a broad smile and gave me a wonderful table with a street view. The service throughout the meal was friendly and attentive. They also have a small patio. On this hot and humid day, most folks seemed to pick sitting under the ceiling fans indoors.
I ordered a local beer and got the Red Snapper, which the waitress strongly recommended as being fresh. It came and it was outstanding. It was served in an olive sauce and the fish was indeed fresh, firm and cook to perfection.
This is a popular place with fishermen; you are allowed to bring your fresh catch in, and El Gran Escape will clean, cook, and serve your catch to you.
The bar is called the Fish Head Bar, and I understand it gets very popular late at night. Whenever I asked around to locals about where I should eat, El Gran Escape always was on everyone's list of top restaurants in the area. I understand why--of all the great meals I ate in Costa Rica, I can tell you this was the best meal I ate.
I love it when the food gods steer me in the right direction. Let me do the same favor for you; when you are in in Quepos or Manuel Antonio, do not miss a meal at El Gran Escape - it's the best!
September 17, 2005
From journal Nature's Gift - Costa Rica