Dining Out

Our favorites foods in Costa Rica usually involve the amazing fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh local fish. It's a great place to practice the "five mile rule". These are some of the places we've discovered. If you discover other great finds on your visit, by all means, do let us know, so we can keep adding to this list and sharing with our other visitors. 
 
Very Close:
 
 
Pito’s Que Comemos

In the palms.  Though many of our neighbors rave about the place, our own experience is mixed. Some dishes are superb, some mediocre.  Bug spray is a must. 1 km south of Highway 34 on the road to Playa Bandera and La Fiaca (turn at the Bomberos de Parrita). Very close to the house! Cash only.

 

Casa Blanca

At the corner where you turn to drive along the beach as you approach the house. We used to avoid this place. Since it’s under new ownership, things may be better. The jury is still out.

 

Bar y Marisqueria La Macha

Closest restaurant and bar on Highway 34 as you drive towards Parrita, on your left. This is a small local hangout right on the highway, but the food is excellent and the staff friendly. Great ceviche and fish of every sort. They have tried to screen their outdoor eating area with plants, but you’re still just off the highway. If that’s not a deal breaker for you, you’ll enjoy the place.

 

Huetares

On left side of Highway 34 going towards Parrita about ¼ mile from turnoff at Bomberos de Parrita. Near Red Cross. White rhinos at entrance. We hear mixed reports, but the food has been quite good when we have been there. Sit in the palapa in the back. Much nicer than the front. Bug spray is recommended.


Restaurant Tipico Rafaelitos

Local place on the highway on the right as you approach Parrita. Typical Costa Rican food. Nice people. Free Wi-Fi.
 

Don Camilo

Good typical Costa Rican fare and fast, free Wi-Fi Internet at this welcoming restaurant in Parrita. At the far end of town opposite the bus station, just before the bridge. Owner is originally from Brazil and lived in the US for several years.

 

West of La Fiaca:

 
Playa Bejuco

Tavern by the Sea, Delfin Beach Resort, Playa Bejuco

This place is highly recommended by Trip Advisor

 

Restaurante Playa Bejuco 2778-8181

Good reviews! Eco Hotel, Playa Bejuco

 

Esterillos Este

 
Alma del Pacifico, (fka Xandari by the Pacific)  

Excellent open-air thatched roof restaurant and bar in this lovely small resort of brightly colored private villas right on the beach. Originally owned and designed by a California architect and his artist wife. Recently sold and now managed by Vail Corporation/Rock Resorts, who have even grander plans for the place. There is a sister resort in Alajuela, near the airport, which we highly recommend if you need to stay in the Central Valley. Scarlet macaws are frequently seen in the almond trees on the property. Follow the signs to the resort. You will approach from the highway and cross an airstrip then turn left. (Tel: 506-2778-7070)

 

Monterey del Mar

Beachfront hotel just west of Xandari. Same road in from Highway 34 as Alma del Pacifico. Turn right when you cross the airstrip and go to the end of the road. Excellent restaurant. The pasta carbonara we had was one of the best ever. Mixed drinks from the bar were just so-so, however. (Tel: 506-2778-8787 )

 

Castillo Monterey Restaurant & Bar

Large building on a hill overlooking Esterillos Este. Has water views as it is high up on the hill, though it is not near the water.


Hotel Pelicano

Very funky, low-key small hotel and restaurant/bar right on the beach. Some of our guests report they had a very good meal here. Clearly a hangout for local surfers. Turn left when you reach the beach, go past Alma del Pacifico. You will see the signs. Do not confuse this place with El Pelicano at Playa Herradura. They are entirely different.


Esterillos Oueste

Los Almendros

Highly rated. Offers Caribbean and Asian inspired dishes in addition to more typical fare. Located on a side street, so nowhere near the water, just so you know. Dinners only last we checked. 506-2778-7322

 
Jacó

El Hicaco Seafood Restaurant
This beachfront restaurant in downtown Jaco is on one of the side streets. We have not yet eaten here ourselves, but it looks very nice and has been recommended by friends. Turn opposite the Marisqueando Bar & Restaurant. Go all the way to the beach. The restaurant will be on your left. They specialize in Lobster. Good signage and easy to find.

Blu Jaco Beach Club
On the beachfront. Low key but nice looking. 
 
Hotel Club del Mar

The hotel is on the very south end of town, right on the beach (300 m south of the El Arroyo Service Station), and thus removed from the craziness of Jaco. This is a good thing. It’s also not far off the highway, so may be a little noisy. The restaurant gets good reports.

 
The Wok

Fresh stir fry. Owned by a Dutch couple. We have not tried it, but it has been recommended to us. Between Budget & Payless on the main street in Jaco.

 

 

Playa Herradura

 
El Pelicano 

Great local place right on the beach. Very casual. Go past entrance to Los Sueños to the beach. Turn left. Several doors down on your left. Great sunsets.

 

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort  

Gated oceanfront development with all the usual resort amenities, including several restaurants ranging from casual poolside dining to more formal venues. La Vista features Costa Rican and international cuisine in a colonial atmosphere. Nuevo Latina offers creative Latin American cuisine and creative use of fresh regional ingredients. Arrecife Pool Bar & Grill, surrounded by lush tropical gardens, provides a delicious lunches and drinks, and a swim-up bar. Hoyo 19 serves lunches of sandwiches, fish & grilled items with views of the golf course and the rainforest. The Pub Puesta del Sol provides sunset views and cocktails as well as lunch and dinner. The Hook Up Sports Bar & restaurant overlooking the marina is a good casual restaurant & hot spot, and the food and drinks are good.

 

Hotel Villa Caletas 

2 miles N.of Playa Herradura. Stunning location atop a mountain and superb view of the ocean and sunsets. French run hotel with magnificent décor. Your choice between an amazing fine dining restaurant, Mirador, (dinners only) and an open air terrace, the Anfiteatro Sunset Restaurant & Bar (breakfast, lunch & dinner), overlooking the ocean and a classical amphitheater where live concerts are held. Don’t miss checking out the infinity pool. There is also a full service spa. Gift shop is also very good. (Tel: 2630-3000)


Tarcoles


La Fiesta del Marisco 

This roadside oceanfront open air restaurant has wonderful fresh seafood, and is a great place to stop for lunch. You'll pass a grouping of several restaurants on Highway 34 about 1 mile south of the entrance to Carara National Park.  This restaurant is one of them, but it is the only one on the ocean side and it is directly on the beach.  Quite funky, but utterly charming. Cement tables. No frills. Small fishing dinghies dot the beach out front.


Steve 'n' Lisa's Paradise Cafe

Across the street and only a hundred yards or so away from La Fiesta del Marisco, this long standing and popular roadside spot has sadly lost its oceanfront location and had to move across the road and up a few doors to the inland side. 

 

East of La Fiaca:

 

Playa Palo Seco

This is the beach immediately adjacent to Parrita, so the closest one to the east. As you are driving east from Parrita toward Quepos, turn right just after the bridge in Parrita and drive towards the beach to reach Playa Palo Seco. When you reach the beach, turn left and drive along the beachfront.

Restaurante Bar La Macha #2

Typical Costa Rican fare at this casual beachfront restaurant and bar. Good, but not spectacular. Located at the entrance to the beach at Playa Palo Seco, where you turn to go to along the beach.

 

Beso del Viento

Hotel, Bar, French Restaurant run by French couple

Go to beach. Turn left. Follow the road until you see the sign.

Call ahead or email to double check if they’re open. Restaurant is inside the 12-room hotel, and the hotel is across the street from the beach, so no view, but the food is excellent. No menu choices. You get to eat whatever Bernard has cooked that night, often a fresh local fish.  Fun and unusual.

506-2779-9674 Bernard & Elisabeth Gallea www.besodelviento.com  bviento@racsa.co.cr

 

Clandestino 

This exquisite small resort on Playa Palo Seco is intimate and beautifully executed. A large thatched roof palapa and wonderful tropical décor surround a large swimming pool. The resort has only twelve rooms. The owner is French, but has spent much of her life in Madrid, and it shows. The food is excellent. A great place for sunsets. Turn left when you reach the beach. 4 km from the turn. (Tel: 2779-8807) clandestinobeachresort@gmail.com  

 

Kanbambu Restaurante

Timarai Bamboo Resort

  


Isla de Damas /Turn off from Hwy 34

The turnoff to Isla de Damas appears on Highyway 34, between Parrita and Quepos, about halfway to Quepos. It is very well marked, a rare thing.

 

Club Pocare 

Great Ceviche. Limited, but excellent, menu of ceviche, fried chicken, patacones (fried green plaintains). Full bar. Very much a local hangout. Old banana plantation housing hangar. Atmosphere is… interesting. Think bright fluorescent lighting and aqua blue cement walls. On Hwy 34 east of Parrita near sign for Isla de Damas, on your right about halfway to Quepos.
 
Restaurante El Galeron 
This place is less a restaurant and more of an experience. The owner opens only on request, and usually only on the weekends. The food is very good, full of sauces and nuances rarely seen in Costa Rica. The ambience is, well... hard to describe.. The place is chock full of the collections belonging to Nury, the owner. She has old dead typewriters, sewing machines, microwaves, perfume bottles, Christmas stuff, and empty bottles lining the walls representing probably every libation she's ever served in the history of the restaurant. If you're up for an adventure, this could be your place. Unique? To be sure! Funky? Well... pretty much! Call ahead to see if she'll open up for you. Tell her we sent you. You'll probably have to pre-order when you call, but you can be guaranteed that everything is totally fresh. Turn right toward Damas at the big sign on Hwy 34. You will pass a nightclub on your left. Go almost to the very end.  The restaurant is only a few houses from the end. Nury's house will be on your left, the restaurant is across the street, unmarked and almost invisible behind lush tropical growth. Nury 2777-6517. Restaurant 2777-6819

Quepos

Quepos is a 20 minute drive from La Fiaca.

 

Restaurante Leon  

Open air thatched roof restaurant just off Hwy 34 appx 1 mile before the turnoff to Quepos. The food is quite good, and the restaurant is set back off the highway amid nice landscaping so the atmosphere is pleasant. Behind the restaurant they have a small “motel” run by the same management which features a pool with swim up bar and another café where you can get drinks & sandwiches poolside.


Runaway Grill (fka El Gran Escape)

This iconic Quepos Restaurant & Bar has recently relocated on the upper floor of the main building in the new Quepos Marina, after 30 years in a different location. The food is excellent, the prices reasonable, and owner Marsha Bennett gives lots of personal attention to her customers. The seafood is fresh and expertly prepared, the burgers excellent. The cocktails we tried were perfectly done. Don't miss the desserts as in her former life, Marsha was a pastry chef. The bar scene here is lively and this is THE hangout for the sport-fishing crowd. There are big screen TVs and there is usually a game of some sort on. Drive along the seawall in Quepos, and keep going for about 500 m until you reach the marina entrance. Turn right into the marina parking lot.  www.elgranescape.com. 506-2777-0395.

Mercato del Porto
Italian Food, Pizzeria, Gourmet Food Market & Craft Beers. Located in the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. www.mercatodelporto.com info@mercatodelporto.com facebook/mercatodelportocr 506-2519-9091

La Cubanita

Cuban & Costa Rican Food. On a side street, and somewhat difficult to find. Not much in terms of atmosphere, but lots of raves for the fresh & authentic food, great seafood, and personable owner, Eddie.  Reasonable prices. #1 Rated Restaurant for Quepos on the Trip Advisor website.

 
El Patio de Café Milagro – Latino Bistro

This place is mentioned in all the guide books, and gets mostly great reviews. It is known for inventively marrying creative cuisine with fresh local ingredients, like watermelon gazpacho, spice-rubbed tuna, avocado salsa, and pumpkin stuffed red pepper. A beautiful garden is hidden inside and oriented away from the street. Attentive, friendly staff and very clean. Located in downtown Quepos, ocean front street near the bridge, next door to Cafe Milagro Coffee Roasters. 2777-4982.

 

Monchados

On a decent block in somewhat “sketchy” Quepos. Mixed reviews on this place, but some raves for its Latin/Caribbean inspired menu: think mango, coconut, & jerk.  Definitely an authentic local experience. It’s the antithesis of the gringo-centric luxury restaurants of Manuel Antonio. Just around the corner from La Cubanita. Reasonable prices.

 

Manuel Antonio:

On the hillside above Quepos. This area is full of restaurants and hotels. The main road winds up over the hills and dead ends on the beach at Manuel Antonio National Park, the most popular national park in Costa Rica, with its incredible pristine beaches and rainforest.


Café Milagro 

Iconic café on the roadside as you climb the hill in Manuel Antonio. Especially noted for excellent breakfasts, but everything is excellent. They also roast and sell their own coffee.  We prefer the quiet patio on the back side, off the road. 


Emilio’s Café

A friend of ours took us to this place recently. What a find! The place is low key, but you step down into the restaurant and are bowled over by the stunning 180 degree view. Everything we tried was excellent. Their desserts are award winning. Live music in the evenings. Highly rated by Trip Advisor. Off the main highway. Take the road toward Hotel Parador. 50 M from the intersection on your left, adjacent to Hotel Mariposa. 506- 2777-6807 

 

Hotel Si Como No Resort 

Easy to spot, the entrance is right on the highway. The Claro Que Si Restaurant offers fine dining, seafood and Caribbean and international flavors with fresh local ingredients. We actually prefer the smaller, more informal poolside cafe that is perched over the rainforest further down the hill, and where you are more likely to see lots of wildlife. 

 
Makanda by the Sea 

Take the right turn off the highway towards Hotel Parador and follow the signs. The Sunspot Poolside Bar & Grill has a stunning view and is very romantic. This is the sort of place you would never stumble on yourself if someone didn't tell you about it. Worth the trip. Ask for a table by the railing and watch for sloths & monkeys. Perfect for lunch after an early visit to Manuel Antonio, or spend sunset looking out over the infinity pool.

 
Hotel Parador 

Follow signs. Take a right off the main highway and go towards the point. The hotel occupies the entire end of the point and the views are stunning. Follow the road all the way to the end to where it dead ends. Several restaurants and bars to choose from in the hotel, all with excellent views. If you are seeking a quiet spot, don't miss the adults only pool, down the hill below the main pool. Sometimes, if you ask nicely, the servers will be willing to bring your food to you there, poolside, even though they're not really supposed to.

 

Raphael’s Terrazas

On the Manuel Antonio Road. Rave reviews in Trip Advisor. Incredible views and excellent food. Good for lunch, dinner or late night.

 

Ronny’s Place

On a side street off the main road through Manuel Antonio. Look for the sign. The view is the best part. Stunning vista over two bays from this ridgetop restaurant. We went for lunch, and sat at the concrete tables which had better views, and were, technically speaking, across the road from the actual restaurant. Our food was unremarkable, but others rave about the place. You wind your way up a steep potholed dirt road to get there. When the bill came, we were underwhelmed again. We thought the prices were high relative to the quality of food. We did have a herd of goats stroll past and graze their way through the flower garden during our meal. Kind of memorable in itself.

 

Sancho’s

Fresh Mexican food including fish tacos and guacamole in this easily overlooked unassuming hole-in-the-wall find on the highway. Reasonable prices. #1 rated restaurant in Manuel Antonio on Trip Advisor.

 

Barba Roja

Mostly good reviews of the longtime Manuel Antonio restaurant, positioned on the highway in Manuel Antonio. Great view. Live music. 

 

  = Our personal favorites

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