Costa Rica is definitely a mecca for the natural world with magnificent rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, unique wildlife and fauna, and, of course, stunning beaches. Even with all that, the thing that was a surprising highlight for me was the food experiences available. Everything that touched my palate was a whirlwind of flavors and textures that transports the soul into the Central American culture.
While in the town of La Fortuna, my favorite spot was called the Rainforest Café. No relation to the chain restaurant. It is a very small and adorable café. The coffee served there is one of the best I’ve had in all of my travels. As well, the breakfast they offer is super fresh and all locally sourced. My main recommendation at this café would be to try their dessert. Any dessert will suffice but my favorite was the coconut and caramel cake. They also a wide variety of coffee infused shakes that were a refreshing complement to the treats. I loved their sweets so much that one night I couldn’t wait and had dessert before dinner! Chocolate Fusion Café was another great spot for coffee, breakfast, or sweets. They even have a lovely porch for outdoor seating and great views of the neighborhood and rainforests.
For true, authentic Costa Rican cuisine, the best bet would be to take a trip to one of the many sodas throughout town. A soda is just a small restaurant or storefront that sells typical cuisine of the country that generally consists of rice, beans, salad, plantains, and meat of choice. I tried a few places and none of them disappointed in the slightest. For a smaller, hole-in-the-wall type of vibe, Soda Mima is the perfect spot. The owners barely speak English and the menu is simple. However, the ‘no frills’ setting was perfect to getting that true Costa Rican experience. Plus, the food was perfectly cooked and the pork that I ordered was impeccably seasoned. For a more restaurant feel, Soda Viquez would be the place to go. It offered a more unique take on the typical cuisine with stronger spices, handmade corn tortilla, and an amazing plantain puree. It was a true highlight of my culinary experience in this town.
After heading to the Tamarindo beach area, I didn’t think the food could continue to stand out so much. Luckily this surf town took me by surprise too! My favorite eatery was Eat at Joe’s. It was surprising because their two specialties were sushi and nachos but somehow they pulled it off. The sushi was so fresh and tender. I would not be surprised to learn that it was caught that same day. The size of the sushi roll was so much bigger than what I am normally used to but it worked to their advantage. It allowed for more flavor and for the fish to really be the star of the show. I also ordered a dish called “nachos as big as your ass.” The serving size was no joke and it’s absolutely a dish to share. The taste will also not disappoint. In this case, it is quantity AND quality. The medley of flavors worked together beautifully. It’s an absolute must try when in Tamarindo.
Another highlight in Tamarino was Lola’s for seafood and an amazing beachfront view and seating. I also loved the fresh fish tacos at Green Papaya and breakfast options at La Bodega. To end a long day of surfing, it was amazing to unwind with delicious Mediterranean style seafood at Seasons by Shlomy. It is the perfect higher end location for a classy dinner. It would be particularly great for a date night if on honeymoon. The service was helpful and attentive and the food was beyond perfect. It was the best way to end such a successful vacation.
A trip to Costa Rica definitely shouldn’t just be about ziplining, rafting, hiking, or surfing. A true foodie should have this country near the top of the list. The quality and array of options makes it a haven for flawless food experiences. Local cuisine and seafood are the highpoints but definitely do not sleep on the dessert and coffee. No matter where the Costa Rican food journey heads, it will definitely be one incredible ride.