Yadid Levy / Alamy
Ashley Harrell
October 03, 2014

The most romantic restaurants in Costa Rica don’t feel much like they’re in Costa Rica. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, right? The country attracts quite a few expat chefs who bring their culinary secrets with them, and some have created restaurants with both a dreamy ambiance and a high level of gastronomy. 

You’ll find adorable places serving up Mediterranean, French, Italian, and international fusion, which in many cases wind up pleasing the travelers palate more than a traditional Costa Rican casado—a dish of beans and rice with a small salad and a miscellaneous piece of meat. Don’t get me wrong, a casado will do the trick. It’s just not going to cut it for, say, your 10th anniversary dinner.

In San José, a highly regarded chef at Park Café holds down the gastronomic fort, while in beach towns around the country, visitors from all over the world are increasingly making Costa Rica a sexier place to eat.  

Park Café

Al Chile Viola

Makoko

This sexy new restaurant is part of the hotel El Mangroove—a getaway on the northwestern coast. The décor is natural, all stone and hardwood, and the menu is fun (particularly when you’ve ordered the “Porn Star” cocktail with vanilla and passion fruit). The chilled lettuce soup & cucumber tartar appetizer is better than it sounds, and the Worcester glazed short rib is exactly as good as it sounds. Save space chocolate cheesecake.

Playa de los Artistas

Set in the palms, right on the beach outside of Montezuma, Playa de los Artistas demands that you arrive early for sunset, then enjoy your gourmet Mediterranean meal by candlelight. The oven-roasted seafood is super fresh, the veggies are local, and the decadent sauces will have you sopping your bread ‘til the end. 

Gingerbread Fine Restaurant

You'll find this restaurant, inside a quaint boutique hotel on the shore of Lake Arenal, preparing family-style French, Mediterranean, and Californian cuisine with local ingredients.

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