Arenal, Monteverde, and the Northern Lowlands Restaurants

You'll never go hungry in this region. The north is the country's breadbasket, and the hotels and restaurants out here make use of the bounty to whip up the best in típico Costa Rican cuisine. Don’t be afraid to ask for tap water; it is safe to drink in all but the most rural areas. Service is generally slow but well worth the w
You'll never go hungry in this region. The north is the country's breadbasket, and the hotels and restaurants out here make use of the bounty to whip up the best in típico Costa Rican cuisine. Don’t be afraid to ask for tap water; it is safe to drink in all but the most
You'll never go hungry in this region. The north is the country's breadbasket, and the hotels and restaurants out here m

You'll never go hungry in this region. The north is the country's breadbasket, and the hotels and restaurants out here make use of the bounty to whip up the best in típico Costa Rican cuisine. Don’t be afraid to ask for tap water; it is safe to drink in all but the most rural areas. Service is generally slow but well worth the wait at most restaurants. Your final bill will include a 13% sales tax and a 10%–12% service charge, though we suggest you tip a little extra.

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  • 1. Celajes

    $$$ | Costa Rican

    In the wood-polished dining room of Hotel Belmar, this elegant restaurant, whose name means “sunset clouds,” is indeed the best place to admire...Read More

  • 2. Orchid Coffee Shop

    $$ | Bakery

    It’s astonishing the level of culinary perfection that comes out of this A-frame shack. Yes, the menu is enormous, but take your time and let...Read More

  • 3. Que Rico

    $$$ | Italian

    Just below the main road is this lovely Italian-inspired restaurant where wooden tables are draped with red-and-white linens, and soft music...Read More

  • 4. Café Caburé

    $$ | Argentine

    Launched by Argentinean–Bostonian owners who longed for quality chocolate made from local cocoa, this restaurant-bakery-chocolateria is one...Read More

  • 5. De Lucía

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Cordial Chilean owner José Belmar is the walking, talking (in five languages) menu here, and he's always on hand to chat with guests. The handsome...Read More

  • 6. Don Rufino

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Although this is one of the more upscale restaurants in the area, there's no need to dress up here: this is La Fortuna, after all. The L-shape...Read More

  • 7. El Gran Abuelo

    $$ | Costa Rican

    There’s no shortage of steak houses near Arenal, but El Gran Abuelo pushes to the front of the pack with perfectly grilled steak. Tender and...Read More

  • 8. La Choza de Laurel

    $$ | Costa Rican

    The smell of rotisserie chicken, porterhouse steak, and fresh fish bathed in garlic attracts passersby to this open-air restaurant a short walk...Read More

  • 9. Los Platillos Voladores

    $$ | Italian

    It might not look like much from the outside, but this Italian restaurant has homemade dishes like tortellini in sage butter, lasagne with bubbly...Read More

  • 10. Monteverde Beer House

    $$ | Middle Eastern

    Middle Eastern food and craft beer are a rarity in Santa Elena (or anywhere in Costa Rica), but this bold combination has filled a void in the...Read More

  • 11. Morpho's

    $$ | Costa Rican

    With its rain-forest murals, glass patios, and tree-stump tables, you’re never far from nature in this restaurant named for the mesmerizing...Read More

  • 12. Pizzería de Johnny

    $$ | Italian

    Since 1993, travelers have been making their way to this stylish but informal Italian restaurant with candles and white tablecloths. Thin-crust...Read More

  • 13. Rain Forest Café

    $ | Costa Rican

    Reasonable prices and excellent quality have made this café a traveler’s favorite, with meals ranging from churrasco and empanadas to salads...Read More

  • 14. Soda y Pizzería La Parada

    $$ | Costa Rican

    La Fortuna's only late-night eatery does a brisk business, and it's a convenient place to grab a quick, cheap meal and stock up on snacks for...Read More

  • 15. Sofía

    $$$ | Latin American

    Bilingual waiters in crisp black aprons scurry attentively around the three dining rooms serving a wide variety of dishes. Start with yuca croquettes...Read More

  • 16. Stella's Bakery

    $ | Café

    This local institution is a good place to get an early-morning fix before heading to the Monteverde Reserve. Pastries, rolls, muffins, natural...Read More

  • 17. Tramonti

    $$ | Italian

    Named for a town in southwestern Italy, this glass-walled restaurant is warm and inviting with dangling fairy lights, hardwood floors, candles...Read More

  • 18. Tree House

    $$ | Eclectic

    It's more about the setting than the food and service at this two-story restaurant built around a 60-year-old ficus tree on Santa Elena's main...Read More

  • 19. Chimera

    $ | Eclectic

    You can mix and match small plates from the à la carte menu to make a filling meal out of two or three diverse minidishes such as sea bass with...Read More

  • 20. El Márquez

    $ | Seafood

    Seafood is an unexpected treat up here in the mountains, and it's fresh: the owner gets shipments from Puntarenas several times a week. The...Read More

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