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  • Maza Bistro (San José): The country’s best breakfast and brunch takes place beside a hostel next to the capital’s Parque Nacional. Inside the airy patio you can sip on Bloody Marys with candied bacon while munching on sweet arepas and fried chicken. 

  • Al Mercat (San José): After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and working for years in France, Chef José Gonzalez returned home to help bring the Costa Rican kitchen into the modern era. He has worked tirelessly to rediscover long lost native ingredients and regional cooking styles, which he reimagines on refined yet casual plates in his Barrio Escalante restaurant. 

  • Makoko (Playa Panamá, near Papagayo): The menu of this eclectic restaurant inside the Mangroove Hotel was designed by Argentine chef Sebastian La Rocca, once the right-hand man of England’s Jamie Oliver. His fresh take on Costa Rican ingredients makes for an eclectic, international menu where you’ll find everything from poke to lamb chops in a miso-anticucho sauce.

  • Ginger (Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste): Serving an eclectic mix of traditional and pan-Asian–influenced tapas, this sophisticated joint is taking this part of Guanacaste by storm. A list of creative cocktails complements the inventive dishes. 

  • Papaya (Brasilito): Housed in a simple, unassuming roadside hotel, this lively little restaurant serves fusion cuisine, using the region’s freshest fish and seafood and other local ingredients, influenced by Asian and Latin American styles. 

  • Pangas Beach Club (Tamarindo): Executive chef Jean-Luc Taulere had a long, successful run in Playa Flamingo before moving to this relaxed, elegant restaurant. He combines his Catalan heritage with classical French training; fresh local ingredients; and a mix of local, fusion, and Asian influences. 

  • Lola’s (Playa Avellanas): With a perfect setting on the sand and excellent hearty fare, Lola’s is among the best casual beachfront restaurants in the country. The ocean-loving namesake mascot—a pet pig—adds to the restaurant’s quirky charm. 

  • Playa de los Artistas (Montezuma): This place has the perfect blend of refined Mediterranean cuisine and beachside funkiness. There are only a few tables, so get here early. Fresh, grilled seafood is served in oversized ceramic bowls and on large wooden slabs lined with banana leaves. 

  • Gingerbread (Nuevo Arenal): This world fusion restaurant almost qualifies as dinner theater, and participation is encouraged. Chef Eyal is outspoken and outgoing, engaging diners in lively discussions on food, the arts, politics, and current events. Don’t come here for a romantic meal in a quiet corner, but do come for some fun and fine dining. 

  • Graffiti Resto Café & Wine Bar (Jacó): From the small sushi bar in one corner to the graffiti-painted walls, this place is full of surprises. Pan-Asian cuisine blended with the chef’s Alabama roots and New Orleans training results in culinary wonders utilizing local ingredients and spices.

  • Celajes (Monteverde): Overlooking Monteverde’s cloud forest not far from the reserve, this creative hotel restaurant sources ingredients from an on-site organic garden and the owner’s family farm, which they use in one of Costa Rica’s best cocktail lists, aside of their seasonal menus. 

  • La Pecora Nera (Cocles, near Puerto Viejo): Surprisingly fine Italian cuisine in a tiny surfer town on the south Caribbean coast. Your best bet here is to allow yourself to be taken on a culinary roller-coaster ride with a mixed feast of the chef’s nightly specials and suggestions.

 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.