Costa Rica has experienced a food revolution over the last twenty years and we’re fortunate to have many world-class dining establishments in Guanacaste. Food options range from the traditional Gallo Pinto breakfast at a local soda to intimate dinners with flavors from around the world. If you consider yourself a “Foodie,” join us on this culinary journey through Guanacaste, Costa Rica that’s sure to entice your taste buds.
This list of recommended restaurants and secret spots comes from Tamarindo Real Estate’s Marketing Director, Kelly Brannon. Kelly is the former Chief Stewardess of the $90 million “Motor Yacht Go” where she worked with Michelin-trained chefs from around the world to provide the most memorable dining experiences for VIP’s, celebrities, and A-list travelers.
Sunset Drinks At Sentido Norte Bar
Perched upon an oceanside cliff with an unparalleled ocean view, Sentido Norte caters to the finest palates with their extensive wine and spirits selections from around the world. Must-tries are the Mesoamerican Aged Rum tasting or the Chameleon Lemonade (Cacique, coconut water, lime, coconut cream) that can be also be served as a mocktail. The view is truly spectacular. The surrounding coastline is dynamic with jutting peninsulas and mountainous offshore islands. Sentido Norte is located in Las Catalinas, about 30 minutes north of Tamarindo.
Sabanero Steak House (JW Marriott, Hacienda Pinilla)
Attention to service and food selection is what makes dining at Sabanero Steak House in Hacienda Pinilla one of the finest in Central America. From the aged-to-perfection beef to the hand-selected salts and dips paired with mouthwatering bread, every detail is considered. You’ll love the rustic charm of this hacienda-style restaurant with its spanish colonial roofs and custom tile work. Sabanero SteakHouse is located 20 minutes south of Tamarindo.
Villa Deevena Restaurant
Villa Deevena is located in the quiet surfers’ sanctuary of Playa Negra. This restaurant and boutique hotel has some serious credentials that you wouldn’t expect to find in this rustic, dirt-road town. The chef has been recognized by world leaders and even featured in the New York Times. Imagine refined French flavors heightened with Costa Rican ingredients and select wines procured from around the world. What more is there to say except, stay the night and make the experience even more memorable. Villa Deevena is located 40 minutes south of Tamarindo.
W Hotel – Latitud 10° Norte
With the opening of The W Hotel in Reserva Conchal, Guanacaste adds another option for exceptional dining and service. Latitud 10° Norte is the iconic brand’s upscale restaurant that fuses Thai flavors with traditional Costa Rican dishes. Some “must haves” on the menu are the Red Snapper Chifrijo and the Chorreado (Coffee-Infused Campari, Curcuma and Orange Tanqueray Infusion, Martini Ambrato). At Reserva Conchal, you can enjoy a day on the links followed by exceptional dining. Latitud 10° Norte is 25 minutes north of Tamarindo.
Spend a day at Limonada, Las Catalinas
After enjoying a day at one of the nearby cove beaches or biking on the twenty-two kilometers of trails, return to Limonada’s beachfront location in Las Catalinas. Here you’ll enjoy the tastiest lemonades to wet your whistle while your toes dig into the sand. Limonada serves up fresh food and relaxation under shady almond trees and native garden coupled with a large play area for children. Las Catalinas is 40 minutes north of Tamarindo.
Surrounded by mature Guanacaste trees and a few steps away from the hustle-and-bustle of Tamarindo you’ll find Dragonfly Bar and Grill. This unassuming restaurant has some of the best flavor profiles in the area with an extensive martini menu and Asian-influenced gastronomy worthy your visit. They’re also known for hearty vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals that satisfy the hungriest of appetites. There’s an extensive artisanal beer menu and live music on weekends.
This gastropub feels like something you’d find in Chepe (that’s San José’s nickname for those who don’t know), but it’s in the heart of Liberia. Liberia Social has it all: perfectly crafted cocktails, Instagram-worthy plates, and live tunes to make you forget the heat or rain. This is a must-visit whether you’re in Liberia for business or to fly out of the international airport. Liberia Social is one hour from Tamarindo.
For the second half of this list, we will continue the culinary journey with a local twist. Grant McLean, owner of Tamarindo Real Estate, has been living in Central American paradise since 1994 and has an unmatched knowledge of Guanacaste and Costa Rica at large. With over 25 years of experience, let’s see where Grant chooses to grab a bite to eat in between his million-dollar showings.
For more than 40 years, Nogui’s has been serving Costa Rican comfort food on the beach in Tamarindo. You can enjoy the catch of the day, which was probably caught right offshore, while enjoying postcard sunsets from the south end of Tamarindo bay. Yes, the food is hearty and fresh, but you must save room for Nogui’s famous handmade pies. Choose from chocolate, coconut cream, banana cream, chocolate cream, pineapple, and apple. Noguis is located on the south end of the rotunda in Tamarindo and everyone’s been here at least once.
Santa Rita Cafe
To find amazing breakfast or lunch, try out this rare find. Hidden on the second-floor on the main street in Tamarindo, Santa Rita Cafe is air-conditioned and offers an indoor play area for young children. For breakfast, Santa Rita has locally sourced coffee best paired with their mouth watering banana and walnut bread. Lunch is equally enticing. You must try the seared tuna sandwich on fresh Ciabatta bread. Power up and wash it down with a restorative green smoothie on your way out. The menu is full of wholesome food for surfers, tourists, and cyber-nomads.
Set right on the beach, this popular restaurant is one of the top locations to catch the illuminating sunsets in Playa Flamingo. The fresh food, laid-back vibe, and upbeat music contribute to an unforgettable experience to highlight your meal. You must try the coconut shrimp appetizer followed by the locally caught swordfish wrap. Wash it down with an Imperial or micro-brew and you’ve officially transcended into the land of Pura Vida. Arrive early to get the best table close to the water. Playa Flamingo is 30 minutes north of Tamarindo.
Soda Las Palmas
Here you’ll find the Tamarindo post-surf crowd, delivery truck drivers, and wealthy property owners all dining at the same local institution. Served buffet style Soda Las Palmas is one of the most popular restaurants in the area serving heaping portions of Costa Rican typical food at a fair price. Rice, beans, salad, platanos, and your choice of protein will leave you more than satisfied and is easy on the wallet. Soda Las Palmas is located in Villa Real, just five minutes from Tamarindo.
Italian chef, Walter, is known for a handful of successful restaurants in the area and II Camparino is possibly the most authentic in Playa Flamingo. You’ll enjoy Italian-style pizza with fresh ingredients that comes out hot in ten minutes. And while you’re enjoying the regal Italian experience, why not indulge in an Italian wine from their wide selection? They also have wonderful seafood options. You must try the octopus carpaccio and antipasto salads. Playa Flamingo is located 35 minutes north of Tamarindo.
The craft beer revolution has arrived in Playa Potrero. Whether you’re craving an IPA, Pale Ale, Chocolate Stout, or Sours, Cerveceria Independiente always-changing beer menu will not disappoint. You’ll feel like a local surrounded by cheerful chatter and fish stories to close out the golden afternoon. The adjoining beer garden serves the exact food you’d imagine to be paired with a bold IPA. Playa Potrero is 30 minutes north of Playa Tamarindo.
We’d love to hear from other foodies around Guanacaste which eating establishments deserve our recognition. This list is flexible and we’d be willing to include more options as dining establishments flourishes in the area. We hope that our expertise can shortcut any pitfalls when you’re contemplating your next big night out.