Charlie and Roe

30 09 2010

A lot of places in Escazu are expensive.  It’s strange, because I think every new teacher was expecting the cost of living in Costa Rica to be way less than in the US.  While in most cases, it really is cheaper; food is not.  For dinner out, it is not unheard of to pay around 16 dollars for an average meal (average in size and taste).  For a pretty nice meal that will offer leftovers, you can expect to pay 30-40 dollars.  I think it is in part because of inflation and also because we are living in a town that is considered the “Beverly Hills” of Central America.  Surprisingly, this is REALLY good for Miguel and I.  We set out with goals when we moved out here, one of those goals was to reign in the amount of money we spent on eating out and how we spent our money in general.  Since we have been in Escazu, we have been forced to eat at home A LOT.  The luxury of a local pizza place or Chipotle (oh how I miss you) are not available or are just not reasonable.  We have to choose our dining out occasions wisely, and we have to really seek out those things that offer the most flavor and value. This is how we stumbled upon Charlie and Roe.

This is the part where the angels sing and baby Jesus appears

Charlie and Roe is this amazingly unpretentious restaurant next to the church.  If you walk by when it’s closed, you wouldn’t even know a restaurant was there.  And to be quite honest, I don’t even know if you could call it a “restaurant”.  There is a bar with some stools… and that’s about it.  To top it off, it’s an empanada place.  I’ve never really thought highly of empanadas,  fried dough filled with strange meat… no thanks.  But Charlie and Roe has completely changed my perspective.

When we walk by the shop in the morning, I almost forget that it’s there.  It doesn’t open until 8, which for us, is a good thing.  Breakfast empanadas might be the end of me.

Charlie and Roe in the morning

Completely unrecognizable. Most definitely a hidden treasure.

So what makes this place so great?  Well, to start, one empanada is only 500 colones.  That’s less than a dollar a pop!  The other selling point is the flavor.  Roe hand makes all of the empanadas.  You can choose from Spinach and cheese, Chicken, Mozzarella, Shrimp, and a Sweet apple. The choices are limited, but what they do make, they make damn well.  Miguel and I both have our go-to favorites.  I steer clear of the meat, and Miguel can’t get enough of the chicken.  After ordering, Charlie then proceeds to yell to Roe, “Dos Espinaca y Queso!  Dos Pollo!”

That's Charlie. He was camera shy and weirded out that I was taking a picture.

Roe pulls her handmade pillows of love out of the fridge in the back.  Charlie fries them in a small fryer right in front of us.

Freshly made in front of me. Crispy, cheesey, gooey, yummmmmm.

While we wait, he makes some spicy salsa and talks to us about the weather or listens to me painfully practice my Spanish.  He brown bags our food, reminds us that the queso has folded corners, and smiles as we leave.  All the while, locals stop by with their own coffee cups and get a refill, or come and share the local bit of news on the street.

Miguel and I usually take our warm goodness to-go.  We don’t go to Charlie and Roe very often, but when we do go, it’s usually before Spanish class.  We will leave work a little early, head over to Charlie and Roe, visit a soda (convenience store) for a drink, and then head over to Spanish class with just enough time to enjoy our afternoon snacks.

Take the first bite to make a little pocket, and then you add salsa.

And try to pace yourself.

Can I have some more salsa? Signs point to no.

In an attempt to grasp the bigger picture, Charlie and Roe represents more than just a great bite to eat.  It’s a simple pleasure that in any other circumstance or any other place in my life, I would have taken for granted.  My life has changed dramatically.  I own a third of the clothes I once did.  I don’t have a working television.  I walk every day to get where I need to go (even if it’s dumping rain).  As a result, and quite wonderfully, I am learning to appreciate the simple and small pleasures in my life. Charlie and Roe is most certainly one of those.

Miguel rushing to Spanish class to get out of the rain and eat our brown bagged treat.





3 responses

30 09 2010

Great post…looks simple but delicious. That’s how we felt about a nice plate of fried noodles in Vietnam.

14 10 2010

Very well said. The empanadas my mother-in-law makes are about half the size. I would have to say – not to her – the ones you show look a little better than the mince meat ones that she makes. It has been a while since I have read some of your blogs. Love it. I will come back more often.

2 11 2010
Renee G-Orness

Ohhhh you and how awesome how simple pleasures make you to thankful!love you

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