Prior to this year Costa Rica was never on my radar as a place I’d like to travel to. But when my friends informed me they had taken it upon themselves to book a 5 day trip to Guanacaste, Costa Rica and that it fell on the week the of my birthday I said what the hey. Even with covid running rampant and travel being limited I was willing to risk it. Now I’m not sure if it was the rush of freedom after being cooped up in the house for a whole year or all the booze but as things would turn out it ended up being one of the best trips I ever went on. Because Costa Rica was so new to me I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there. All the usually traveling thoughts ran through my head. How’s the food there? Will the beaches be open? And the most important question are the native people welcoming to tourist. But once we landed those questions were answered immediately. Not only does Costa Rica have great food and awesome beaches but the people are some of the nicest natives I’ve ever encountered during my travels. Wether we were at the hotel, a restaurant or just walking down the street the people would smile and engage conversation with us starting and ending with the phrase “Pura Vida”(translation: “pure life”) this isn’t just a phrase to Costa Ricans it’s a way of life.
The night of my birthday we headed down Playa Del Coco a large village in Guanacaste with a lot of bars, restaurants, and outdoor activities for tourist. We drank the night away at and about 3am of course we got hungry. So after asking a bunch of bartenders and locals for late night food recommendations everybody kept telling us to go to Jimmy’s Burger. Now we all know there’s nothing better after a night of drinking than a good ol hamburger and fries. As a New Yorker I’ve been exposed to just about every type of burger you can imagine. But because I was born and raised in Queens, NY many of the late night burger joints I frequented over the years have been South/ Central American background. Whether it’s Colombian, Peruvian or Brazilian they all have a special twist they put one it to make it unique to their country and Costa Rica was no different. We strolled on over. When we got there we were greeted by a young woman named Diana who showed us that great Costa Rica hospitality. Diana turned out to be the daughter of the owner of Jimmy’s After we scarfed down my burger we ended talking to Diana and her chef about Costa Rica and living the pura vida lifestyle. They even let me take photos in their official “Jimmy’s Burger” Cheeseburger hat. Those photos are in the vault forever by the way.
We enjoyed our food and company so much I decided to sit down with Diana and talk and about the how Jimmy’s came about and what it’s like to run a restaurant during the Covid era.
Hi Diana thanks for sitting down with me.
How did Jimmy’s Burger come about?
My dads start Jimmys Burger in the year 1987 in Playas del Coco ,he was in the capital San Jose delivering something for a friend and he was hungry so he look for something to eat and right in front was a small trailer selling Hot Dogs so he bought one and then he got the bright idea of start selling Hot dog in Coco Beach at that time Coco was a very small to of fisherman’s and not a lot of restaurants at food options, hot dogs was gonna be a very new concept of food in this little town.
My dad didn’t have money in that time but he was a very hard worker guy and people know it so he had a friend that had a small trailer that wasn’t using it and he offer to buy it and pay it in small payments as he could and they accept the deal. He start selling 20 hotdogs and 3 liters of coca cola by the glass, it become a success and every day he start selling more and more hot dogs. My uncle give him the idea of start selling hamburgers that will be another new product and nobody was selling those so we were the pioneers of burgers in town, even people dint know what was a hamburger in that time. He start experimenting with different recipes for the patties until he got our actual recipe and we still made then at home. People went crazy with the Burgers and become super popular and a place to meet up in town also our location in that time was in-front of the beach and next to the only discotheque and we were the only business open at late night 4am in town so if you were hungry late night Jimmys was your place to eat. Every body start calling the place Jimmys Burger.
The tiny business was a success (please check pictures on the restaurants) so it was time to grow, my dad started saving all the profits to buy materials to start building a bigger trailer at home. He learn by himself how to do welding so he can do it by himself and it took him to make it 1 year because he work on it at mornings before going to sell burgers at Jimmys.
How long has the restaurant been open?
Jimmys Burger has 34 years of been open and with the past of the year been growing until now we can call it a restaurant before was just a little food trailer.
Do you get a lot of costumers from America?
We have both costumers locals and visitor, the visitors mostly come in the high season and our local are our star costumers they come high and low season to eat.
How has Covid-19 effected you business? Are there less tourist than usual?
Covid have affected us very much because with the restrictions now we have to close at 9pm and our peak ours were late night, we used to close at 4am and our most sales were after 9pm, also because we have less tourist it affect all our community that mostly lives from tourism activities and that means less money for locals to spend in our locals restaurants.
This was my first time in Costa Rica but my friends and I were really drawn to the Del Coco Beach area. It has the feeling of a close community. Would you say this is true?
Of course, we are a community very tight together, everybody know everybody. When people come to our business we know if they knew us when we were kids or we also know then from when they were kids in the case of younger people.
People at a local bar told us that Jimmy’s is a great spot for a late night bite to eat. Is Jimmy’s known for being a place people go to after a night of drinking?
Yes, my parents opened the business and because as it’s beside the bars, they have always stayed open until there was no one left in the streets, it is very famous for that! No one left without eating at Jimmys Burger because it was always open! And it was the only place open at those hours.
What menu items do you recommend for a first time costumer?
The Super Hamburger is our famous one with cheese, ham and bacon and if you are super hungry you can get a Big Jimmy that it is a double super hamburger. But we have other trademark dishes like our Mix nachos and my moms Tres Leches.
Do you get your ingredients like meat and produce locally?
Most of our ingredients are homemade and made with lots of love and we don’t change or share our recipes, are a Top Secret. If you really want it you gonna have to marry one of Jimmys family member lol jk
What are some fun activities travelers can do in the Del Coco Beach area before heading to Jimmy’s?
You can always can walk around the beach, watch a beautiful sunset, do ziplining, visit a volcano, come party at night and finish having a Burger at my place one of the local iconic place to visit at Coco Beach.People says if you came to Coco Beach partying and you didn’t end eating at Jimmys , you dint came to Coco.