There are no windows or bars at El Cafecito; it’s all open. There is a little roof that shelters the wicker chairs that sit outside. There is an easy chair with cushions. There is a generous fan. All of these elements tell me that I’m going to be here for a while, that this is a place to linger.
Its owner, Denisse Arias, tells me that she loves the table where I’m sitting because it used to be her kitchen table. She also says that everything here is like that: it all has a story.
Denisse is Costa Rican but she grew up in the United States. When she was 16 she got her first job in a cafe, where she’d work after school. Since then, she’s imagined people drinking something and spending time in a place that was hers.
Lunchtime arrived and I ordered some santacrueñas, which are a tower of toasted tortillas with a light layer of guacamole, diced tomato and cucumber, and shredded chicken. The guacamole gives it a smooth texture that is the perfect contrast to the cucumber’s crunch. The lemon and cilantro aren’t very strong; it’s perfect. I love it.
Denisse started this adventure alone two years ago. Faithful to her dream and hoping to leave hospitality, work from home, and be close her daughters, she found this corner near the park in Santa Cruz and she transformed it.
Matías Obregón, Denisse’s boyfriend, is Chilean and a chef. He joined on six months later and says that working in Santa Cruz feels like returning to the little town where he grew up in Chile.
Matías is upstairs, cooking, and the tells me that he prepares a mixture of all the places he’s lived, the experiences he’s had, and the delicacies he’s tried. Denisse is downstairs, attending to customers, smiling. She tells me that her favorite thing about having a cafe is different every day, that every day she can be creative.
When it’s time for dessert, I order the torta chilena. I have to try it because it’s Matías’ recipe. The dulce de leche is so thick that I can’t see the pastry layers, so dense that I can cut it with a knife.
I look at the clock and realize that I’ve been here for three hours. I don’t know where the time went.
Telephone: 2680 6397
Address: 100 meters north and 100 meters west of the central plaza in Santa Cruz
– Wide range of desserts
– Comfortable spaces to sit and enjoy the food and conversation
– Selection of shakes cold coffees
– They have a daily special
The bad: Closed on Sundays.