Best 6 Gay Bars In San Jose Costa Rica (Honest Review)

There are plenty of bars and clubs in San Jose that cater specifically to gay clients. These include Club Teatro, La Avispa, and Neon, among a few other popular ones. Your choice depends on the kind of experience you want. While some San Jose gay clubs are known for drag talents, others are known for circuit party music. 

It’s good news that you’re looking for gay bars in San Jose because the town itself is an inviting destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. In other words, you will find many options. 

Tim and I got married in Costa Rica and have been visiting regularly for 10 years. We have chatted with many gay locals in San Jose, and they commonly recommend Club Teatro as the best gay bar around. The recommendation is mainly because of its drag talent. 

While Club Teatro is an excellent spot, you may be interested in something else, like a gay lounge where you can enjoy cocktails without dancing or one with sections for gay dance floors and other gay-themed parties. 

In this guide, I have listed and given my unbiased review of six of the best gay bars in San Jose. You will learn about the pros and cons of each and the kind of experience you can expect at each spot. 

Key Takeaways 

    • For the best gay bar experience in San Jose, Club El Teatro is a solid choice. It’s known for its wild drag shows and gay-themed weekly parties.
    • Go to La Avispa if you want gay bars in the morning and theme parties that make you dance. It serves great cocktails, has live music, and has karaoke.
  • BomBom is a diverse bar with relaxed cocktails open until 6 am.
  • El 13 is a cafe by day and a buzzing gay club by night. 
  • Neon Bar is a better option for cocktails with less dancing.  But choose Butts Bar Metal if you don’t mind mixing with both gays and lesbians in the bar.
  • Some other popular options are not included in this review because they are purely risque gay clubs, not bars. This review is focused on the bar experience.

UPDATE (MAY, 2024): 

Some gay bars in San Jose might still show up in search results but are no longer open. After checking their inactive social media pages and confirming through email, I found that the following gay bars are no longer operating:

  • Club Venue 
  • Bocho
  • Buenas Vibraciones
  • Puchos

Now that you know about some of the best gay bars in the previous section, keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of each one and what the experience is like at these bars.

1. Club El Teatro 

  • Address: Avenida 16, San José Province, San José, Pacifio, 10103, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: Fridays and Saturdays (9 pm to 4 am)

Club El Tearo is generally considered a gay club. But they also have a bar section where you can chill in an environment of like-minded people and other gay travelers in the area. 

However, when you walk inside the club, you may instantly feel like you’re in for a dazzling performance with the neon lighting and the big stage. But there’s a balcony seating area where the bar experience comes alive. 

Meanwhile, this is one of the top recommendations from locals for anything gay at a bar or club when the sun goes down. So you can never go wrong with choosing Club El Teatro. 

You will find a mostly mixed crowd here, but depending on the night and time you arrive, expect to pay between $15 and $20 for entry.

The focus here is on the open bar within the club. 

But if you’re interested, you can wait behind for the drag shows and themed nights such as Glitter & Glam. 

2. La Avispa (The Wasp)

  • Address: Avenidas 8 and 10, C. 1, San José, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday (8 pm to 6 am), Sundays (5 pm to 6 am)

At La Avispa, you can enjoy great cocktails, live music, and even karaoke in a gay-welcoming environment. But the most exciting part of this bar is that they have two dance floors featuring Latin and pop music. 

You will also see big screens projecting music videos to help you dance the night away. The music played here is salsa, samba, merengue, and pop chart hits.

La Avispa has been operating since 1979 as a gay-friendly bar and remains one of Costa Rica’s favorites among the LGBTQ community. 

Usually, the entrance has a value of 2000 colones, and the National beer costs 1200 colones. But that was the last time upon visitation. You should contact their number to verify the current state of things. 

Meanwhile, entry is free if you come on Sundays before 6. But Saturday’s experience is better if you want less crowd and quiet. 

3. El 13 

  • Address: Av. 14, San José, Barrio Chino, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: Wednesday and Thursday (9 pm to 12 am), Fridays and Saturdays (9 pm to 3 am).

You can come to El 13 In the daytime for the café. But when the sun goes down, it becomes a trendy, upscale dance club and lounge.

So, in addition to drinking beer in a gay-friendly environment, you can enjoy shows and themed parties. 

They charge depending on the activity of the day. 

4. Neon Ice Escalante Bar 

 

  • Address:  C. 31, San José Province, San José, Barrio Escalante, 10101, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: Tuesdays to Thursdays (4 pm to 12 am), Fridays (4 pm to 2 am), Saturdays and Sundays (1 pm to 12 am).

 

Neon Ice Escalante Bar is another fantastic gay bar in San Jose. It has outdoor seating and is known for its excellent cocktails. But there’s still a section for dancing. 

It’s a hip-queer cocktail lounge and eatery. So expect to see lesbians as well. 

Neon focuses on frozen cocktails and classic “Americana food” like hamburgers and fries. 

What makes them popular are the “little bear” shots called “sitos.” What stood out for us was the blended drinks. They were so good, with a large selection, and very affordable.

The place is also dog-friendly. If you’re a fan of Rupaul’s Drag Race, they have themed drinks, and the episode streams live. 

5. Butts Bar Metal

  • Address: 75 Este del Parque Nacional San José, Barrio, San José, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: Mondays (7 pm to 2:30 am), Tuesdays to Sundays (6 pm to 2:30 am)

The place is only for heavy gay metal lovers. There is no restaurant, but they usually sell empanadas or hamburgers. Serious beer costs two thousand colones, and some, like Cuba Libre, are on sale for a thousand colones.

They also host different bar entertainment and events. Check their Facebook page to see what’s happening this week at the bar. 

They welcome mixed guests, so it’s not exclusively for gay visitors, But it’s totally gay-friendly. 

6. Bombom

  • Address: Calle 1, avenidas Central y 1era San José, 1010, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: 

As a gay couple, I can’t think of a better place for you to be in San Jose every Thursday night than Bombóm. 

The highlight of this bar is its “ThursGays,” where sexy male strippers perform. Apart from the bar area, Bombom has a dancefloor section that comes alive every Friday night. The floor has windows that open to the street below. 

If you don’t want to dance, you can chill at the terrace level above the dance floor, which tends to be less crowded and offers a relaxing lounge experience. 

On Thursdays, the Karaoke starts from 9 pm to 4 am. They have Pop and Perreo on Fridays from 9 pm to 5 am. Pop and Perreo also start from 9 pm to 5 am if you come on Saturday.

The bar is open and gets busy after 11 pm

Tips for Gay Clubbing in San Jose

San Jose is generally safe and has an excellent reception for gay travelers. So you wouldn’t have to be too careful while partying. However, here are some key things to take note of: 

  1. Don’t stay very late on the streets alone. Petty theft remains a menace here. It doesn’t matter how you identify.
  2. It is safe to wear nail polish, but people tend to think a lot of you wear makeup.
  3. If you’re going to these gay bars after 8 p.m., always take an Uber. After 10 p.m., you will hardly see buses in San Jose. 
  4. As a gay traveler, you might hear the word “Playo” (pronounced Pla-joe). Locals commonly use it to mean “dude” or “gay person.” Some sources say it can be offensive, but locals usually say it lightheartedly. It happens pretty often.
  5. Teens may be often uneducated but adults are open and friendly. 

Wrapping Up 

Now that you know some of the best gay bars in San Jose, it’s up to you to pick your favorite one. It’s hard to say there’s a best overall because each spot has a unique clubbing atmosphere to match the different tastes of gay visitors. 

But if I had to recommend one, it would be Club Teatro. It’s a super engaging place, and you’re sure to make friends there, especially if you’re a gay solo visitor in San Jose.

Ultimately, your choice depends on what you want to experience. But this guide is meant to point you in the right direction. 

Are there other gay bars you know of in San Jose that are hidden gems and were not included in this review? Feel free to share in the comment section below. 

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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