Restaurants in Costa Rica
Restaurants in Costa Rica are more sophisticated than one might expect, and many channel international flavors. Expect a mix of chic city restaurants, tiny roadside sodas, and seafood eateries, especially along the coast. Read on for our guide to some of the best restaurants in Costa Rica.
Named after an 800-pound pink pig, Lola's café is a popular gathering place in Playa Avellanas. Upstairs, the menu consists of Asian-inspired appetizers and ultra-thin vegetarian pizzas and seared ahi tuna with sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade. Outside, guests can relax in hammocks strung up under palm trees.
El Chicote is an excellent San Jose restaurant. The dining room features dark, varnished-wood beams, and tables brightened by tropical plants and hanging ferns. Local businessmen come here to talk shop and there's a wine list with gems from France, Spain, and California.
At Sofia, owner Karen Nielsen is raising the bar for dining in the Monteverde Forest Reserve area. Plantain-crusted sea bass is a favorite specialty.
In Playa Hermosa on the Nicoya Peninsula, Ginger is a tapas bar that resembles a treehouse, cantilevered as it is 20 feet above the ground. Try the chicken satay.
Mediterranean recipes, Middle Eastern flavors, and fresh-caught Pacific seafood all come together at one of the best small restaurants on the peninsula, if not in the country.
Miss Junie came to Totuguero from Nicaragua and brought her culinary expertise with her, which she channeled into establishing one of the best-known and longest-standing restaurants in the area.
One of the best ways to sample Costa Rica’s cornucopia of tropical fruits is with a batido, a fresh smoothie made with water or milk, and the convivial beachfront Pan Pay Café is one of many excellent places throughout the country to try it.
Located next to a supermarket in the town of Santa Elena, this small eatery stands out with its sleek black-and-white décor and a contemporary menu that offers much more than the standard rice and beans.
A chic, open-air terrace—surrounded by jungle palms that are illuminated at night —is the best place to enjoy La Hacienda’s Latin American-Mediterranean-Asian fusion cuisine.
Chef Camille Ratton marries French technique with fresh Central American ingredients. Don’t miss the tarta de pasiones with crème of passion fruit.
A San José institution for nearly 40 years, this steakhouse is the kind of place where Costa Rican coffee barons and their international financiers discuss business over rare rib-eyes.
Cloe, Maia, Andrea and Carlos Velardes, a family of Peruvian surfers, came to Playa Negra on the north Pacific coast in search of “peace, nature and great waves.” Astonished by the clean water, year-round warmth, and constant waves, they decided to stay and establish an under-the-radar surfing re
Located in a complex of decades-old stone buildings that once housed a mountainside monastery, this elegant French restaurant has three parts—all worth experiencing: the bar at the entrance, which has both panoramic views over the Central Valley and live piano music in the evenings; the main dini
About 100 meters north of the elementary school in Manuel Antonio, the wooden, blue seafood restaurant Mar Luna sits on a hilltop overlooking the treetops and sea coast.
Arguably the most authentic Italian restaurant in Costa Rica, Lanterna is also considered the best table in the Jacó area—a valuable distinction, since new eateries pop up in this popular beach destination every year.
Named after its now-deceased mascot, an 800 pound pink pig, Lola’s beach café continues to delight visitors with its idyllic scene at Playa Avellanas.
Elevating the Costa Rican soda—the Tico version of a corner diner—to new heights, Cuenca eschews the standard mom-and-pop operation tacked onto the front of a family home in favor of an expansive deck and cantina-style décor, with antique Costa Rican lanterns and lacquered tree-trunk bar
At sunset, there is a Great Gatsby-like atmosphere at the happy hour at El Galeón restaurant, as yacht owners and guests arrive from the nearby Los Suenos resort and marina in Herradura Bay.
Inside a quaint boutique hotel on the shore of Lake Arenal, this restaurant prepares French, Mediterranean, and Californian fusion cuisine with the freshest local ingredients. The space feels cozy and is adorned with local murals, paintings, and hand-stained glass.