DALLAS, Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Committed to bringing the world bold and distinct flavors, Chili's® Grill & Bar recently introduced Costa Rica residents to their first taste of the restaurant company's Southwestern-inspired, classic American favorites and upbeat environment. Costa Rica, which was recently named the happiest country in the world by the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index (HPI), warmly embraced the American brand when the doors of the first restaurant opened earlier this month in the vibrant center of the country's capital at Centro Comercial Multiplaza in San José. In comparison to Chili's U.S. menu, the San José menu features, in addition to signature favorites and a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, several items exclusive to Costa Rica, such as Lomito, a traditional Costa Rican cut of beef, and Patacones, a staple treat made of fried plantains. Chili's global chefs researched local ingredients and culinary preferences to craft a menu comprising the essence of Chili's Southwest-American cuisine with a touch of familiar fare for the Costa Rican consumer. As one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies, Chili's parent-company, Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT), is committed to expanding the global reach of the brand with a focus on emerging countries with a growing middle class. Brinker presently owns, operates and franchises more than 260 Chili's restaurants outside the U.S. in 32 additional countries and two territories. " Costa Rica residents' affinity for iconic restaurant brands, as well as the large population of American retirees, made this country a prime target when developing Chili's in Central America," said Guy Constant, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Brinker International. "As we build Chili's presence, we will continue to listen to what consumers are telling us to ensure the brand's Southwestern-American favorites and perfectly blended offerings satisfy guests in Costa Rica." More than 400 local residents came out to welcome Chili's to the Centro Comercial Multiplaza with a celebration that featured a cooking demo by the brand's corporate chefs, live music and more. At the event, guests tasted a wide-variety of Chili's favorites, such as mouthwatering Baby Back Ribs and Boneless Buffalo Wings, as well as special menu offerings exclusive only to the brand's global restaurants, like Texas Cheese Poppers which are fried cheese bites served with a chipotle ranch dipping sauce. While sampling the food, guests also sipped on hand-shaken Tropical Sunrise Margaritas, Blue Pacific Margaritas and the brand's signature Presidente Margaritas.