Costa Rica has become one of the most desirable vacation destinations in the world. It is a country that offers a myriad of fun, action packed activities with gorgeous beaches, mountains, jungles and luxury Costa Rica Villas. A holiday can be busy or relaxing but certainly never dull. Each day’s activities can be interspersed with some quality dining in some of the loveliest, most unusual and all round best restaurants in Costa Rica. Let’s take a whistle-stop gourmet tour around this fabulous country and drop in and sample some delightful dining experiences.

This vibrant and serene destinationis perfect for the discerning traveler, holding some of the best Costa Rica restaurants

A little bit about Costa Rica

Central America has had a bit of a chequered history. Conflicts, political instability and economic difficulties haven’t helped promote the region as a tourist destination. Luckily, Costa Rica has stolen a march on its nearest neighbours and has made some really smart decisions that lure informed and evolved visitors to its gorgeous shores.

Bordered on the north by Nicaragua and to the south by Panama, Costa Rica is a country that commands a niche position with coastlines along the Pacific and Caribbean. Over 25% of its landmass is dedicated national parks that are home to wildlife species like jaguars, sloths, monkeys and birds. These natural reserves are only one of the top things to do in Costa Rica. In fact, the number of bird species to be found in Costa Rica is greater that the number of species to be found in the whole of North America.

There are many restaurants in costa rica, based along the coast or inland. No matter where you go the views provide endless enjoyment.

The marine life that can be seen are pods of dolphins, migrating whales and turtles. Different whale groups migrate along the Pacific highway that takes them from their watery winter playgrounds to their summer breeding locations. There’s rarely a time in Costa Rica when whales cannot be viewed just off-shore. Likewise, turtles find safe harbour along the protected coasts of Costa Rica and return each year to nest. For more interesting information then read our Costa Rica Historical Facts.

So many beautiful resorts and villas have been developed within some of these coastal national parks. Luxurious properties that capture the beauty of their surroundings while at the same time blending seamlessly into their jungle homes with views over some pristine beaches.  The style of architecture favoured by these new developments is very contemporary with the use of sustainable materials with a keen focus on being eco-friendly and carbon neutral.  In fact, Costa Rica is taking its green policies so seriously that it plans to be a carbon neutral country by the year 2021.  Impressive!

All of these brilliant initiatives make Costa Rica a very 21st Century destination for the modern traveller.

So, getting down to it!  We’re embarking on a monumental road trip that will take in some of the most incredible locations within this marvellous country.  Along the way, we’ll be stopping at some of the best restaurants in Costa Rica.


Liberia – Restaurants in Costa Rica

The gateway to Costa Rica for many is the international airport of Liberia.  It’s a busy city that is the largest urban area in the Guancaste area near to the Nicoya Peninsula.

Liberia Social

125 o Este y 25 Norte de la Ermita la Agonia el frente Stihl / Suzuki

Guanacaste, Liberia, 50101

Tel: +506 2665 4050

Liberia Social is one of the best restaurants in costa rica, supplying mouth watering food in a beautiful location

This restaurant offers delicious food in a cool atmosphere.  The Liberia Social has outside dining, a wine bar, fabulous menu, beer garden.  With live music on some evenings, it’s a location at which to base yourself for dinner and more.  There are many restaurants in Liberia Costa Rica but if you want just one good recommendation, you will have to try Liberia Social.

Next stop …..


Guanacaste

In the northwestern corner of Costa Rica, this area province is one of the destinations of choice for the surfing and yoga aficionados.

Abbocato Hacienda Del Mar,

Golfo de Papagayo

Tel: +506 2672-0073

Abbocato is another one of Costa Rica restaurants you must not miss out on

A delightful menu awaits in this sophisticated family run restaurant.  The views across the Pacific are divine.  A romantic setting for that special dinner.


Tamarindo

Black Stallion Café and Surf Saloon

The Black Stallion Hills Ranch, Tamarindo 50309, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 8869 9765

Dining with a difference.  Become a cowboy for a day and take to the saddle at the Black Stallion Eco Park.  There are zip lining adventures, hikes and 360 degree ocean views all followed by a traditional BBQ.  Undoubtedly one of the fun restaurants in Guanacaste Costa Rica if you are keen to pair a fun activity with some quality ranch food.
Work up your appetite and enjoy ribs and burgers in the traditional Saloon environment.  Yee-ha!


Nicoya Peninsula

Your next stop is the Nicoya Peninsula.  This comprises parts the north of Guanacaste and the south of Puntarenas provinces.  As you travel southwards along the Pacific coastline of the Peninsula, you can stop at the beaches of Tamarindo, Nosara and Santa Teresa and enjoy beach life and some wonderful dining.

Breaking Bread

Centro Comercial el Punto, local 10 | a 40m Oeste Del Supercompro, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 8679 2809

I am the biggest fan of a good breakfast.  Not for me those sad shrunken pastries of the jaded continental breakfast.  What I long for is a feast of flavours and textures.  Home-made breads, eggs, spice, a wide variety of unknown cheeses … oh, and a world class coffee.  If you want all of this then I recommend probably the best of the Tamarindo Costa Rica restaurants for all round good food with the added attraction of a warm and genuine welcome.  Family run restaurants really feel as though you are dining in someone’s home.

All the bread and sweet treats are baked onsite and you will definitely linger over the most perfect coffee ever!

Breaking Bread is one of the best restaurants in Costa Rica for its specialty in the finest bread with a selection of tasty treats

Oh, and a small word on coffee:  To fully embrace the coffee experience of Costa Rica, you will have to try a café chorreado – a do-it-yourself filter coffee experience.  This involves a quaint timber stand with a natural cotton filter sock.  You choose the water-to-ground-coffee ratio to get the freshest (and we mean freshest), quietest and most bespoke coffee you’ve ever tried.

Travelling further down the Pacific coast we get into the gorgeous Nicoya Peninsula.  First stop is Pelada Beach in Nosara.

La Luna

Playa Pelada, Nosara 4, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2682 0122

This gorgeous restaurant commands one of the prettiest locations on Pelada Beach.  It is one of the best Nosara Costa Rica restaurants that caters for both vegetarian and vegan diners while also offering meat and fish.

Further south along the Peninsula, we visit Santa Teresa beach.  Another marvel of Costa Rica’s pacific coastline.

Banana Beach Restaurant,

Villa Bonita Drive, Santa Teresa 60111, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2640 1117

One of the best restaurants in Costa Rica is Banana Beach Restaurant, directly based overlooking the glimmering Sea

If you are lucky enough to be staying close to the beach, you will have to try one of the Santa Teresa Costa Rica restaurants that everyone calls to.  The Banana Beach Restaurant is a lively and buzzy.  Ideal for a delicious lunch right on the beach.  At night it transforms into a twinkly lit bar restaurant with a DJ on some evenings.  Pizza and burgers are easy pleasers for the conservative tourist palate.  There are some nice spicy options too.  It’s never dull at Banana Beach!

Now we’re going to double back a travel round the gulf and visit the inland treasure that is La Fortuna.  This small town north of the capital San Jose, is the gateway to the famous Arenal Volcano.

Costa Rica restaurants in La Fortuna enjoy the panoramic views of the famous Arenal Volcano.

Chipotle’s

Metros Oeste de la Iglesia Catolica de la Fortuna 500 | Plaza Arenal, Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos 21007, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2479 9700

The food influences in Costa Rica are taken from some of its close neighbours.  This restaurant offers a Mexican menu with a flourish of other influences.  If you long for some tasty tacos or Tex Mex plates, this is definitely worth a visit.  After a day of hiking, you will believe this is the food of the gods.  This is my favourite one of La Fortuna Costa Rica restaurants for full-on flavour!


San Jose

As the capital city, there is so much to see and do.  The colonial past of the country is seen in the architecture and there are some lovely churches to visit (even if you are not very religious).  There are many different San Jose Costa Rica restaurants for tourists to enjoy.  From the casual café to some rather fine dining.  The city sits inland and has a lovely laid back temperment.  Dining is relaxing and unrushed.

Park Café,

Av. de Las Americas, Calle 48, San Jose, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2290 6324

In a unique setting within an antique store, this restaurant in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose offers guests a fabulous tasting menu that bring together the concept of tapas and modern fare.  Expect unusual meats like quail or rabbit as well as the traditional beef dishes that are key to so many Costa Rican dishes.

Restaurante Silvestre

Calle 3A – Ave. 11 – 955 | Downtown, San Jose 10101, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2221 2465

One of the best San Jose Costa Rica restaurants is Restaurante Silvestre for its colorful and tantalizingly tasty food palette.

Probably one of the San Jose Costa Rica restaurants for fine dining.  Located in an elegant grand house in the city, each room is decorated in a different style and along with the outdoor area offer a very attractive backdrop to delicious and beautifully presented dishes.  An eclectic menu with organic fayre.  This is destination dining.


Jaco

Back out onto the coast again.  Next stop Jaco …..

Adventure Dining,

Pura Vida Gardens Drive 1000 Jaco, Garabito Municipality 61101, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 8352 9419

Tucked out of the way, this is one of the best restaurants in Jaco Costa Rica  that offers romantic dining with an unequalled view over a waterfall, hills and out towards the gulf.  Sitting in the beauty of the Vida Gardens, Adventure Dining is a restaurant ideal for groups or honeymoon couples who want to watch the sun sink into the west and see the stars unfold their beauty in the night sky.

Restaurants in Jaco costa rica hold some of the most exotic dining experiences, overlooking the vast vivacious jungles.

La Luna Restaurant at Gaia Hotel and Reserve

Manuel Antonio 6350, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2777 9797

This is my tip for where to dine if you wish to enjoy outdoor dining with one of the loveliest of views to be found in a Quepos Costa Rica restaurant.  Beautiful vistas out over the lush canopy of trees to the ocean in the distance makes this restaurant a lovely location at sunset.  The open terrace is a pretty place to relax with delicious foods and some refreshing drinks.


Heading due south – The Osa Peninsula

On the most South-westerly point of Costa Rica is the Osa Peninsula. It is a wonderland of nature.  Trails through forests let you see so much wildlife in its natural habitat.  Whale watching is never far off shore, beautiful beaches everywhere.  If you have active teenagers, this is the place to let them run free!

Drake’s Kitchen

Main Road, Drake Bay 00000, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 6161 3193

A cute, out of the way restaurant that opens very early for breakfast and runs all the way through to dinner.  The freshest fish, fruit and vegetables are prepared in an uncomplicated and delicious way.  The views over the river are lovely.  A special place worth a visit.

Restaurants in Costa Rica such as Drakes Kitchen are a great way to experience an authentic Costa Rican Lifestyle

Briza Azul / Lapa Rios

Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Tel: +506 2735 5130

Meat and Fish offerings but plenty for the plant only diners too, this lovely restaurant has fabulous views and delicious cocktails!


Conclusion

There are so many dining experiences to be had in any number of restaurants in Costa Rica.  The east and west coasts of Costa Rica offer not just an entirely different vacation experience but a different climate and dining experience.  The Pacific west coast seems to embrace a less spicy cuisine with Gallo Pinto the famous breakfast dish of rice and beans taking centre stage.  The Caribbean east coast offering of rice and beans is an altogether different experience with the rice cooked in coconut milk and infused with chillies.

In fact, the most compelling difference between dishes enjoyed in Costa Rica restaurants on either coast is the spice levels.  The east coast has borrowed a great deal of its cooking style from Jamaica.  Jerked meats, spicy vegetables, the famous patis (meat pies or pockets) to be eaten on the go, all originate in other Caribbean nations but have become embedded in the kitchens of the east coast Costa Ricans.

The best restaurants in costa rica are waiting for you to indulge in their mouthwatering dishes, overlooking the lands beautiful scenery

The west coast is influenced by flavourful meat and fish dishes with a more mellow taste sensation.  Fruit is a key ingredient in so many dishes and it’s not unusual to find savoury plates infused with mango and pineapple.

Fruits feature in the amazing Naturales or Refrescos that are sold at stands dotted along the Costa Rica Beaches. These fruity smoothies are the freshest and most delicious drinks imaginable. In addition to the melon, mango, pineapple and banana choices, there is a delicious beverage called horchata made from rice, milk and cinnamon.  A very natural curative if you’ve overindulged the night before.

Utterly reviving! Costa Rica is a feast for all senses – everything that is stimulating, delightful and restoring to our minds and bodies seems to be translated into the lovely dishes that you will enjoy throughout this country. Sometimes in simplicity, we find the most authentic flavours. I think that’s the best way to describe this incredible country!

About Mairead Moriarty

Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories. It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name! Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really. Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be. Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.

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