Restaurants in Costa Rica

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Seaside lobster, check! Rice and beans, check! Caribbean fusion, check! Fresh-off-the-boat sushi, check! You crave it, and Costa Rica likely has it.

Our Top Restaurants in Costa Rica, San Jose video covers some of the best restaurants found in the capital. Including Grano de Oro, La Terressa, Tin Jo, Cafe Kalu, Park Cafe and La Bodeguita del Medio for great live music. Check it out!

This selection of top restaurants in Costa Rica makes for a diverse dining scene, and is a foodie’s delight, offering a bit of this and a lot of that. Though San José was once the unofficial capital of Costa Rica’s best restaurants, everything from fine dining to deep-fried comfort has filtered north, south, east and west – spreading into almost every tourist town, beach getaway, and mountain retreat. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Grano de Oro, San Jose: Set within the open courtyard of this lovingly restored Victorian building is one of Costa Rica’s finest restaurants. Cuisine is a fusion of tropical and European fare prepared by chef Francis Canal. The waiting staff is fully bilingual and your experience here will rival any restaurant in the world. The restaurant is open from 7am to 10pm and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. (San Jose; Phone: 2255-3322)

2. La Terrasse, San Jose: Set only 5 blocks from the Avenida Central in downtown San Jose this ‘Closed Doors’ restaurant is a real French treat. Executive Chef Patricia Richer, along with her husband has turned their 1920’s Costa Rican house into a gourmet heaven. Sitting a maximum of only 10 people this delightful French restaurant serves exciting dishes all prepared by Patricia. Everything from the entrée to the dessert and wine is purely French. Make sure to reserve well in advance to avoid disappointment and payment is made pay cash or bank transfer only. (San Jose; Phone: 2221-5742)

3. Tin Jo, San Jose: This San José mainstay has remained on our list for years – and for good reason. Tin Jo’s talented chef whips up dishes from across the Asian continent, and the menu offers Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Japanese selections. Added to the great food is the impeccable ambiance – several small dining areas that adhere to a national theme, complete with elegant décor and soothing melodies. Service can be slow during busy times, but the food is worth the wait. (San José; Phone: 2221-7605)

4. Café Kalu, San Jose: Located 300m north of Parque Morazan on the corner of Calle 7. Restaurant and Caféoteca Kalu is a small café/restaurant that also houses a fine Costa Rican Art Gallery and is the ideal spot to escape the busy streets of San Jose even if only for a locally brewed coffee and cake. The dishes are simple and very tasty and many people turn up to enjoy the warm, cozy atmosphere. (San José; Phone: 2221-2081)

5. Park Cafe, San Jose: Park Cafe is quite probably the most progressive restaurant in Costa Rica. Run by head chef and two Michelin star winner, Richard Neat, the restaurant serves tapas style dishes. The idea is that people can sample a wide range of flavors and dishes and you will want to try them all. The food is matched only by the setting, a wonderful antique shop that makes you feel like you are dining in a period mansion. The restaurant is only open for dinner but is a must for any serious food lover. (San Jose; Phone: 2290 63 24)

6. La Bodeguita del Medio, San Jose: Located 200m South of the BCR on Paseo Colon. This Cuban hot spot is the ideal place to hang out and enjoy great live music every night. Tuesday is one of the best days to turn up as they offer free salsa classes from 7:30pm. A local favorite is the popular Mango Mojitos mixed with the tasty cuban ceviche. Pop along to see how they move over in Cuba! (San José; Phone: 2255-8383)

7. El Lagarto, Manuel Antonio: El Lagarto’s mouthwatering dishes are so good, the restaurant recently expanded from its Samara location into Manuel Antonio. The secret to El Lagarto’s runaway success is their absolutely to-die-for, slow-smoked barbecue from a one-of-a-kind, handmade grill. This is one menu that deserves to be sampled – try a little of everything, trust us! – but you really can’t miss the chicken breast, jumbo shrimp, portobello mushrooms, and baked potatoes. Bonus: Almost everything at El Lagarto is lactose and gluten-free. (Playa Samara, Phone: 2656-0750; Manuel Antonio, Phone: 2777-6932)

8. Ginger Restaurant, Hermosa Beach in Guanacaste: If you love tapas (or just love to graze), you can’t miss Ginger. This small-but-sophisticated joint serves traditional tapas and their pan-Asian-inspired counterparts – snappy flavor combos guaranteed to send your palate into ecstatic overdrive. The menu offers great variety at awesome prices ($5-$13 per order), so you can sample everything your heart desires. Our favorites: the portobello crostini, firecracker shrimp, and the signature Ginger rolls. (Playa Hermosa/Papagayo, Phone: 2672-0041)

9. Sofia, Monteverde: The only thing that can eclipse Sofia’s surroundings – misty cloud forest populated with melodic birdsong – is its cuisine. The eclectic menu is a blend of international dishes fused with Costa Rican flavors – think grilled chicken in a guava reduction and fresh seafood chimichangas. The drinks are inventive and very tasty, as are the generous salads. Arrive early, so you can nab a table near the picture windows, which overlook the ethereal cloud forest and abundant gardens. (Monteverde, Phone: 2645-7017)

10. Graffiti, Jaco Beach: Tucked into the backside of a tiny, nondescript strip mall in downtown Jacó, Graffiti is as easily underestimated as its name implies. But don’t make that mistake: this chic restaurant and wine bar is perhaps the beach town’s greatest eaterie. The setting is decidedly casual and the food is excellent. We highly recommend any of the day’s specials (they’re artfully written on the chalkboard), which often revolve around the absolute freshest catches, right from the waters off Jacó. Be sure to sample the tuna tartare and the tropical sangria. (Jacó, Phone: 2643-1708)

11. La Pecora Nera, Puerto Viejo: One of the Caribbean’s most renowned restaurants, La Pecora Nera is worthy of the hype: Italian cuisine, thoughtfully prepared and lovingly displayed, takes you on a culinary journey through Italy. The small menu offers up delicious dishes, but we highly recommend handing the reins over to owner and chef Ilario Giannoni, who will recommend the day’s specials and craft a memorable feast based on your preferences. (Puerto Viejo, Phone: 2750–0490)

12. Nectar, Nicoya Peninsula: The elegant Nectar is housed in Florblanca, one of the Nicoya Peninsula’s top boutique hotels, and offers a diverse menu and elegant ambiance – and an oceanside locale, where you’re almost close enough to bury your toes in the sand. The restaurant’s motto – from hook to fork, from farm to table – tells of its commitment to fresh, local cuisine. The menu changes nightly and specials usually feature the catch-of-the-day, Costa Rican grass-fed beef, and other tempting dishes. (Santa Teresa, Phone: 2640-0232)

13. Sash, Rohrmoser: If you’re in San José and craving a serving of authentic Lebanese delicacies, there’s no better choice than Sash. This restaurant balances between casual and fine-dining locale, offering up a cozy ambiance and attentive service. We love everything we’ve ever tried, but can never get enough of the robust vegetarian special, which offers perfectly spiced baba ghanoush, hummus, falafel, and tabbouleh. (San José, Phone: 2232-1010)

14. Kapi Kapi, Manuel Antonio: For a romantic celebration or special occasion, Kapi Kapi pulls out all the stops. The menu is on the pricey side, but is still a bargain when compared to similar cuisine in major U.S. cities. The menu is a wonderful selection of Costa Rican, Asian and tropical fusion, and focuses on local ingredients, like raw sugar and fresh vanilla grown in the hills above Manuel Antonio. Everything is delicious so order whatever appeals, but do yourself a favor and save room for the hot chocolate soufflé. (Manuel Antonio, Phone: 2777-5049)

15. Benedictus Steak House, La Fortuna: Grass-fed beef, gluten-free pastas, and organic produce help Benedictus stand out from the crowd, but the real appeals are the incredible chef, stunning location, and first-class service. The restaurant’s steaks are some of the best in Costa Rica, and the other dishes also deserve praise: fresh ceviche, grilled chicken and pork, and roasted vegetables are a perennial favorite. (La Fortuna/Arenal, Phone: 2479-1912)

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