Costa Rican meals are my kind of food. Fish and fruit were fresh and abundant and not one day passed without me enjoying both. The meals were easy, simple and delicious. Here are some of the foods and drinks we indulged in during our Costa Rica trip.
Casado or Comida Tipica (Typical Food)
This typical Costa Rican dish includes beans, rice, fried plantains, salad, and a choice of meat: chicken, fish, pork or steak. Fish was my usual choice and I loved the dish every time. If you try this dish, make sure to ask for Salsa Lizano, a sweet and slightly spicy brown Costa Rican salsa. It’s great to add to rice.
One of our favorite things was this side dish of beans and rice with small diced bell peppers and onions. Sometimes we were lucky and the casado plate had gallo pinto instead of regular beans and rice. The secret to this dish may or may not be the addition of Salsa Lizano and coriander. I can’t wait to try making this at home.
The fruit was amazing in Costa Rica. Mangos, pineapple, guava, and watermelon were plentiful in both cities and we had it for breakfast every morning.
Ceviche was available on most menus and the fish was delicious.
We had fried calamari and coconut curry calamari at two different meals and I loved both.
We also enjoyed tartare several times and really liked the sesame oil they used in the dish.
Fresh Fruit Juice
With plentiful fresh fruit comes plentiful fresh fruit juice! Breakfast and snacks usually included a mix of fresh fruit juices like orange pineapple or mango guava. This watermelon and basil was my favorite.
On the Tamarindo beach, there are people selling Pipa Fria, young coconuts with cold coconut water, everywhere.
I’m not a regular coffee drinker but Costa Rican coffee was too good to pass up! We had it with breakfast every morning.
If you’re a beer drinker, you’ll have the choices of Imperial and Pilsen everywhere. There are a few local brews here and there. I tried Volcano Brewing Company’s Witch’s Rock Pale Ale in Tamarindo and enjoyed it.
Guaro is a a high purity sugar cane liquor and Cacique is Costa Rica’s most popular distilled Guaro. I had it in a variety of mixed drinks with fruit juices. My favorite use was one restaurant’s “Miguelito shot,” which was liquor and coconut cream.
Many, many times, we were so full on the appetizers and entrees (did you see those big plates of food?!), we didn’t have room for dessert! We did get to try a few. The Costa Rica dessert selection usually included tres leches cake, flan, creme brulee, and rice pudding.
Here are the restaurants we tried and I recommend in Costa Rica:
Fiesta del Mar – Tucked away on one end of the main street of Tamarindo is this truly local Costa Rican restaurant, recommended to us by our kayaking guide. It was our favorite in Tamarindo and possibly the whole trip!
Latitude Blue – Right on the beachfront, this restaurant is where we coincidentally started and ended our time in Tamarindo. Come here for the Miguelito shots. Service is slow and the food is ok.
Falafel Bar – We enjoyed a very quick lunch here and the chicken pita was delicious!
El Vaquero – This beachfront brewpub was great! We went here a couple of times because the surfboard rental we used was in the same complex and they had live music most nights. Volcano Brewing Company is also part of the complex so they have craft brews on tap. For food, I recommend the humongous nachos.
Patagonia del Mar – A white tablecloth restaurant, Patagonia del Mar is a fancy and friendly place for dinner.
Seasons – The restaurant at our hotel was a causal and outgoing place to have dinner. We enjoyed mussels, coconut curry shrimp, and red snapper.
Arenal / La Fortuna
Nene’s Restaurant – Recommended to us by a driver, Nene’s was where we stopped for lunch while exploring La Fortuna. We were told by several locals that their ceviche is the best in town and I enjoyed my fish casado dish.
Sky Adventures Arenal Park Restaurant – If you need to work in lunch during your tours at Sky Adventures’ Arenal Park, their restaurant is a good option. I enjoyed a refreshing casado plate here.
Sushi Amor (Nayara Hotel) – Only open to Nayara Hotel guests, Sushi Amor was a cute place to have dinner. They have plenty of sushi roll options.
Altamira (Nayara Hotel) – Also only open to Nayara Hotel guests, Altamira was a nice, intimate restaurant featuring many Costa Rican dishes.