Locals Guide: Where to eat in Costa Rica

Wondering where to eat in Costa Rica? This is the second most popular question I get asked by family, friends and followers that are visiting Costa Rica. (The first question is usually about using their phone).

The typical Costa Rican dishes like Casado con Pollo and Arroz con Pollo are meals that I enjoy, and if you are traveling to Costa Rica you should definitely eat at the traditional “Soda’s” and experience the local dishes. However, you may get tired of chicken, rice and beans quickly and finding good food can be a bit challenging, but it can be found! After living in Costa Rica for three years now, I definitely have my favorite places to eat.

Most of the restaurants I’m going to share with you are in my area of Guanacaste, near Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Tamarindo. If you are exploring this northern pacific region of Costa Rica then you will want to put these on your list of places to eat!

Where to eat in Costa Rica
Sprout Tamarindo Costa Rica Best Food in Costa Rica Guanacaste

Sprout

Salads and sandwiches galore. Sprout is probably one of the most popular restaurants in Tamarindo, and for very good reason. They have an incredible menu of fresh salads, sandwiches and one of my favorites – the pork sliders!  They also make giant ice teas served in mason jars and have a full bar with local Costa Rican craft beer and a variety of fresh cocktails. If you are staying in Tamarindo, I bet you’ll find yourself eating at Sprout more than once.

Surf Box Playa Flamingo Costa Rica Best Breakfast Wanderlust Living Food in Guanacaste

Surf Box

We are here almost daily. Surf Box is on the main road heading into Playa Flamingo, this place just opened earlier this year and is the hottest place in town. If you want a great breakfast a cappuccino or a latte this is the place to go. The menu is also filled with plenty of smoothies, acai bowls, quinoa bowls, and my favorite, the tropical shrimp tacos.  If you’ve brought the kids, they will love the waffles, french toast and milkshakes.

El Castillo Playa Potrero Costa Rica Food

El Castillo

Another one of our favorites that we frequent A LOT.  Don’t let the dark stone castle facade fool you, this place has great food! I usually order the taco salad, cobb salad, or the blackened tuna but the menu has a variety of items, from hamburgers to curry chicken and there is always a nightly special worth ordering. If you are lucky enough to be here on a Friday night, be sure to order the rib dinner!

La Cuchara Verde Playa Flamingo Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

La Cuchara Verde  – (The Green Spoon)

This is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Playa Flamingo, but do not let that scare you. I am neither vegan or vegetarian and I love the food here. The La Cuchara Burger is my favorite! They have quinoa salads as well as a variety of panini’s and lasagna. They also make delicious carrot and banana bead that you can grab to go. Try their “Nicecream” handmade, gluten free and dairy free.

Limondada Las Catalinas Costa Rica Food Wanderlust Living

Limonada

If you are spending the day on Playa Danta and Las Catalinas, Limonada is the beach front restaurant. I am usually here in the morning after I run the Las Catalinas hiking trails so I usually have breakfast and get the typical tico breakfast (eggs, gallo pinto, tomatoes, plantains and tortillas) or the Creole Egg Caserole. If I happen to spend the day and stay for lunch I always order the watermelon ceviche, it’s my favorite! Just be sure to add a drop of tabasco and salt to each bite to get the full effect, A-mazing!

Coco Loco Playa Flamingo Restuarant in Costa Rica

Coco Loco

The only beach front restaurant on Playa Flamingo is Coco Loco. It’s a great spot for watching the sunset while sipping a Coco Loco, their house rum drink served in a coconut. It’s a must order, and you really only need one, but two will certainly make you a little loco.  The Chicken Brie sandwich is very good but I usually just go here for a Coco Loco and a snack – so I usually just order a salad and either their coconut shrimp or ceviche. My husband gets the red snapper and is pretty happy.

Seasons Restaurant Tamarindo Costa Rica Where to eat in Guanacaste Wanderlust Living

Seasons

Hands down some of the best food we’ve had in Costa Rica. We save this for special occasions and “get dressed up” in our best beach attire for Seasons. My mouth is just watering just writing about it. The last time we went here with some friends my husband ordered the salmon special which had some sort of awesome honey glaze on it, and I usually don’t like cooked salmon, but he insisted I try a bite – it literally melted in my mouth. My shrimp dinner was incredible too, but that salmon was insane!

Punto Tranquilo Huacas Costa Rica Wanderlust Living Food

Punto Tranquillo

This is my favorite spot for traditional Costa Rican food. I love coming here for their casado con pollo. I honesty crave this simple dish. I add Llzano sauce (a local Costa Rican sauce) or tabasco to add a little more flavor, but this meal really fills me up. Every typical “Soda” adds a different type of salad but every casado con pollo no matter where you go will come with plantains.  I also pick up arroz con pollo to take home for dinner from time to time and they have a variety of fresh ceviches too.

Surf Shack Burgers & Wings Tamarindo Costa Rica

Surf Shack

If you are craving a really good burger then head on over to the Surf Shack in Tamarindo. This fun spot is tucked away in the corner, but just ask around and someone will point you in the right direction. This is the perfect place for families that have been surfing all day. They have a variety of creative burgers and their milkshakes are off the charts!

Pantagonia Tamarindo Costa Rica Food in Wanderlust Living

Patagonia

One of the longtime favorite restaurants in Tamarindo is Patagonia Argentinian Grill. You cannot miss this one. You can literally get full on the empanadas and sangria alone, but you should still order one of the Argentinian style steaks – they are fantastic! Be sure to also take advantage of the 2 x 1 mojito and margarita specials during the day. This place gets packed in the high season and on weekends, so you’ll want to make a reservation.

Lolas on the Beach Playa Avellans Costa Rica Food Wanderlust Living

Lola’s on the Beach

Lola’s is not exactly in our area, but it’s well worth the drive to spend the day here. Lola’s is on Playa Avellanas and not too far from Tamarindo or if you happen to be staying at the JW Marriott, it’s just a short walk down the beach. Lola’s on the beach has a great atmosphere with large tables shaded by rows of beautiful palm trees, hammocks for lounging and a menu filled with delicious food!

Pangas Restaurant Tamarindo Costa Rica Salmon Eggs Benedict
Pangas

Okay, one more. We do not eat here a lot, not sure why but we have been here for brunch a few times and the Salmon Avocado Eggs Benedict was heavenly. Pangas is a beautiful spot for brunch or dinner since it sits right on the beach in Tamarindo but it’s on the north end and tucked away from all the touristy places.

Buen Provecho! {Bon Appetite}

4 Comments

  1. Joy H

    Thanks for the article. I have a friend that is having her wedding at the Westin in June! Shes not having the best of luck planning with them. This list of places to visit helps a bunch.

  2. Matt

    Visiting Potrero for a week in February with the family including a 3 & 7 year old. Are there grocery stores in the area that would carry food for a picky eater?

  3. Andrea

    Yes, the grocery stores have basic./simple and even some American brands, choices are less and you will pay a bit more for the “imported” brands and products. The Super Masai in Flamingo has a nice selection of stuff, but closer to Tamarindo is an AutoMercado that is a much bigger store that is more like a traditional American grocery store. It’s really nice and has a lot of imported brands. But brace yourself for the prices there.

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