They say if you really want to know what a country is all about, you should go to its markets. A great example of this maxim can be found at San Jose’s Mercado Central, which sprawls across an entire city block and is a state-designated cultural landmark. Stalls, set along narrow aisles, sell meat and fish, cheese, artisanal crafts, clay pottery, grains, natural remedies, shoes, and traditional costumes. Look for the stalls that locals call sodas: These informal restaurants, truly Tica treasures, serve Costa Rican staples like the best olla de carne (beef and vegetable stew) you ever tasted. This multihued market is a must-visit.