After a party, ending up in the Condor is like finding an oasis in the desert or entering paradise. It sounds cliche, but when it’’s after midnight in Nicoya, food options run out and the Condor is the only place to alleviate the plight of hunger.
Located across from gasoline station in Nicoya, the establishment’s food is not extravagant, but it meets the objective of satisfying the munchies. Twenty-four hours a day, they serve gallo pinto (traditional dish of rice and beans mixed with spices), burgers and fries, gallo de carne (tortilla filled with meat and topped with pico de gallo, which is made with chopped tomato, onion and cilantro) or casados (meals with meat, rice, beans and salad).
Although the Condor is a Nicoyan icon because of their around-the-clock schedule, it wasn’t always this way. Rafael Rodriguez opened the restaurant doors for the first time on December 1, 1986. At that time, it was only open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Rodriguez remembers that on that first day, his sales totaled ¢4,800 (about $9) and he only had one cook. Now, 30 years later, 11 permanent employees and three seasonal employees work at the cafe.
With a good nose for business, Rodriguez noticed that on Saturdays after the dances that were held then, people were always looking for something to eat and that was why he extended the hours until the service became continuous.
When talking to the 77-year-old owner, who turned a small carwash into the most popular cafe in Nicoya, you have to ask, why is it called the Condor? Very simple— it was in the 80s and the TV series Condor was growing in popularity, so Rodriguez’s daughter, who was 6 years old, asked to christen the cafe with that name.
From the food to the flowered aprons that the cooks use, everything is picturesque at the Condor. It is green inside— the shade of green that is common in schools— and instead of hanging pictures, there are landscapes that are painted right on the wall that have not changed since 2001.
The cafe’s tradition is so great that every self-respecting Nicoyan has, at some point in time, finished a great night of revelry at the Condor with a coffee in one hand and gallo pinto in the other.
The Good: Service is fast and prices are cheap.
The Bad: The bathrooms are very small and sometimes they are not in good condition.