Places to eat on any budget
While many visitors may prefer to dine in the comfort of their Costa Rica jungle lodge, others enjoy trips into local towns and cities that afford them the opportunity to sample local cuisine, and with good reason.
Costa Rican food is an eclectic mix of culinary styles with dishes that please the eye as much as they do the taste buds. Take the best of Italian, Chinese, African and Spanish cuisine, toss in a few rare spices, a dab of exotic oil and a whole lot of passion and you’ll get something that closely resembles comida tipica (native dishes).
Visitors will find that as they travel Latin America, the traditional Costa Rican dishes rely heavily on rice and beans that form the basis of various Costa Rican meals. Take for instance Gallo Pinto, the national dish of fried rice and black beans. This dish is frequently served at breakfast with eggs, and then again as a side dish at lunch time. Home-style cooking predominates, and although some dishes may be on the oily side, most traditional foodstuffs are wholesome and healthy.
Although we trust that you will enjoy the food we serve at our Costa Rica rainforest lodge as much as we do, we thought it would be nice to give you some information regarding the soda’s (restaurants) in the vicinity for when you might feel the urge to venture on a culinary adventure of the region. Please note that the restaurants listed below are merely the tip of Costa Rica’s culinary iceberg and we merely offer you a little taste, so to speak.
Dining on a budget? Then this is the place for you. A chain of restaurants that offer a wide variety of chicken options and local dishes such as frijolitos molidos and tortillas de mais, it is also one of the best places in town to have a tasty and inexpensive meal. They also have a delivery service, so call them from your Costa Rica lodge if you are in the area and have them deliver straight to your cabina door.
La Mansarda Bar & Restaurant
Located near the imposing Alajuela Cathedral, this establishment has a relaxed atmosphere with good food and attentive service. Don’t expect the Ritz, but if it is local flavour you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. The second floor restaurant has a distinctly local feel and there is a guitar player in the evening, so book ahead for dinner and drinks and enjoy an evening of true Costa Rican style.
Pining for some pizza and pasta even though you know you should be trying local cuisine during your stay at your Poas accommodation? Not to worry amigo, we’ve got you covered. Simply head out to Vina Romantica, where the proprietors grow their own arugula and spring leaf mix in the garden, right beside the patio door. You don’t get much more local than that! A brick oven ensures that all pizzas are served delectably crisp and a list of novel toppings, such as artichoke hearts, chicken sausage, eggplant and home-made pesto turns any standard pizza dinner into an adventure of note. We now head out to San Jose, the Mecca of vacation villas in Costa Rica and renowned for its international cuisine.
Grano de Oro Restaurant
Leaning a bit more towards the pricey side, this establishment is located in the lovely interior courtyard of the elegant Grano de Oro hotel. This restaurant still manages to have a relaxed and intimate ambience, even after a recent refurbishment and extension. Service is first class and the menu includes a wide range of delectable meat and fish dishes. Reservations are recommended, as the restaurant is quite popular and tends to fill up quickly over season time, when holidaymakers flock to take advantage of the beautiful accommodation in Costa Rica.
If you really want to soak up some culture, look no further than Café Mundo. This restaurant caters for a never-ending stream of San José's gay, bohemian, theatre, arts and university crowds. The interior includes a mix of classic wooden tables and Art Deco chairs that give the spacious rooms that comprise the restaurant a casual, yet elegant atmosphere. The building is a former colonial mansion, so you can marvel at the antiquity of the setting as you enjoy Tico favourites such as fried yuca or dig into a pizza or pasta.
It’s safe to say, that with such a broad variety of culinary institutions in the vicinity, guests can rest assured that they will be well provided for if they happen to stray too far from their Costa Rica lodge near dinner time.