Other Articles in the Series:
- Discover the Hidden Beach at Nacascolo, Costa Rica
- 10 Interesting Things About A “Winter” Vacation in Playa Ocotal, Costa Rica
- The Critters of Costa Rica
- What to Pack for a Week in Costa Rica
Here’s the good news about visiting Costa Rica – you aren’t likely to have a bad meal. In fact, we didn’t have anything that we wouldn’t have again while visiting. How often can you say that? Our sampling ran the gamut from beach bar to upscale Italian. The food was undeniably fresh, tasty and plentiful.
Not a fish fan? Not a problem. While Andy enjoyed his grilled on the beach red snapper, I loved the fried plantains and gallo pinto dishes. Honestly, I’m not a big fish/seafood eater, and I still found plenty of options wherever we went. You know how you can tell that we loved everything we tried? We didn’t remember to take a single photo of the food before it was gone.
Curious about our favorite restaurants in and around Playa Ocotal?
Father Rooster (Father Rooster, The Ocotal Road, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica): http://www.fatherrooster.com
Father Rooster was literally down the hill from where we were staying. We made it our morning office (before it opened) and our (nearly) nightly hang-out.
There are a lot of tourists here because it is right on the beach, everyone speaks at least some English, and the drinks are perfect. The music is always on, and the scene is festive. They never hurry you along (as everywhere in Costa Rica, you have to request the bill), and they have beach chairs, hammocks, and swings to encourage you to stay and experience the good life.
It is more expensive than what you would pay at one of the sodas, or if you only ate from the grocery (although groceries in this part of Costa Rica are more expensive than in San Jose). Still, everything we had was tasty, and the atmosphere was too appealing not to visit. I’m not going to lie – I’m going to miss sipping a margarita while watching the sun set as the warm breezes blow. In fact, I’m pretty tempted to book a return ticket right now!
La Dolce Vita (La Dolce Vita, Las Palmas, Provincia de Guanacaste, Coco, Costa Rica): http://www.ladolcevitacostarica.com/
Speaking of temptations – they are plentiful at La Dolce Vita. In terms of food, it might have been my favorite of the trip. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Italian food is my favorite. Handmade pastas, delicious wine and an ambiance that included live music and hanging white lights. I loved it all, and if we go back to this area, I’m including this on my itinerary.
This isn’t a place you are likely to happen upon. It’s set back in a development and is on the edge of a small, outdoor mall-like space. If you are staying in Ocotal, it’s a relatively quick drive through downtown Coco on 151, and then down a side road and into the development (you’ll see some signs as you go).
Prices were reasonable, but it is fine dining, so if you are traveling on a budget, you may want to reserve this for a special night out.
Side note: If you haven’t had homemade/handmade pasta before it is time for you to try it. From flavor to texture, it is worth the small splurge.
Picante Restaurant (Picante Restaurant, Bahia Pez Vela Playa Azul Ocotal, Costa Rica): http://bahiapezvela.com/restaurant/
This restaurant and bar is part of a resort and is set high up on a hill. You’ll get fantastic views of the sun as it dips behind the mountains, and the ocean extends below you. Even the pool and outside terrace are picturesque. They have a nice wine selection, and the restaurant has a relaxed (yet still upscale) feel to it.
We choose Picante for Christmas Eve. They had a set menu for people to choose from, and everything, even the turkey, was delicious. The live music was engaging, and we had a great time enjoying the view and the night.
Casa del Mar (Casa Del Mar, Guanacaste Province, Coco, Costa Rica): http://www.cocobeachcr.com/restaurante.php
Most days, we opted for bread, fruit and cheese for breakfast in our room, at the dive club, or down where we were working on the beach. However, our first morning, we did delve into the local fare in Coco. Andy’s mom recommended breakfast at Casa del Mar, and we enjoyed every bite.
This was my first experience with “a casada” eating. Basically, it means that they will add rice, beans, and fried plantains to your order. I’m not going to lie – I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about adding beans to my morning eggs, but in the end, I was a fan.
The price was reasonable for the amount of food served, and we enjoyed being right on the main road to people watch. We were also poolside, which gave it an extra level of a “casual vacation” vibe to the proceedings.