Tucked away on South Butler Street, Café Costa Rica is hard to miss, with a brightly lit palm tree on the front patio and upbeat Caribbean music playing inside. But that's no gimmick — this genuine Caribbean café features entrees such as curried chicken, tico burritos and empanadas. For the Caribbean-food lover, this café is perfect its authentic cuisine, music, design and mango sauces. For those that don't like to stray from the American norms of cheeseburgers and Easy Mac, Caribbean food is probably not for you. Caribbean food has a unique, almost indescribable taste; the staple mango sauce is spicy but, at the same time, smooth and sweet. Almost every item on the menu includes cilantro, mango or plantains — ingredients very common in Caribbean food. In addition to the food, the atmosphere of Café Costa Rica is unforgettable. Walking through the door into the lower level restaurant is almost like walking into a large closet. The space is very small and cramped but somehow the atmosphere is still vivacious and colorful. The Latin music playing from the boom-box tucked away in the corner provides entertainment while waiting for food, but it was a shame there is no room for a dance floor. Despite the crowded dining area, the walls are beautifully adorned with vibrant paintings, and the ceiling draped with a softly lit canopy of flowing, colorful fabrics. With its authentic ingredients, cozy dining area and well-planned décor, Café Costa Rica brings a little bit of the Caribbean to downtown Madison.
JAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photo