Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula Restaurants

Seafood and fresh fish are tops here, followed by fast food—pizza, tacos, barbecue—to satisfy the hordes of hungry surfers and beachgoers. But there are many sophisticated restaurants, too, offering Asian-fusion, Italian, French, and international cuisine, especially in the tourist-heavy beach towns of Hermosa, Flamingo, Tamarindo, Nosara, and Sámara. Many restaurants, especially tourist-oriented ones with dollar-denominated menus, do not include the 13% tax plus mandatory 12% service. By law, menus are required to show the total price including tax, but many owners flout this law. Be sure to ask if taxes are included; otherwise you may be surprised by a bill that’s 25% higher than you expected.

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  • 1. Café Liberia

    $$$ | French

    Step back 150 years into one of Liberia's grandest mansions, complete with an original ceiling painting of cupids, doves, and garlands of flowers...Read More

  • 2. El Chivo Cantina

    $$ | Mexican

    With an atmosphere as fun and funky as the luchadora (Mexican wrestler) legend for which it's named, everyone will have a great time and an...Read More

  • 3. Gusto Beach Creativo

    $$$ | Italian

    A romantic setting, ocean breezes, and a creative Italian menu make this the one of the most popular restaurants in Sámara. By day, rustic wooden...Read More

  • 4. La Luna Bar & Grill

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    Dawn to dusk, this casually chic restaurant overlooking Playa Pelada is the most scenic place to have breakfast, lunch, cocktails, or dinner...Read More

  • 5. Lola's

    $$ | Vegetarian

    This hip beach café has exactly the kind of ambience one comes to Costa Rica for, with tables scattered along the beach amid palm and almond...Read More

  • 6. Mama Gui

    $$ | Italian

    Elegant design aligns with ultrasophisticated cuisine at this exciting Italian restaurant. Tropical-inspired dishes include tender corvina ...Read More

  • 7. Mario's Cuisine

    $$$$ | Seafood

    A set four-course dinner, by reservation only, served at 8 pm sharp, in the home of prodigy-chef Mario Rivera, makes this underground supper...Read More

  • 8. Nectar

    $$$ | Seafood

    Fresh seafood is the specialty at this poolside alfresco restaurant, with inventive daily specials that focus on the day's catch prepared with...Read More

  • 9. Pangas Beach Club

    $$$ | French

    You can’t get any closer to the water than at this outdoor beach garden, where rustic tables are shaded by enormous ficus trees draped with...Read More

  • 10. Patagonia Del Mar

    $$$ | Asian

    This open-air Argentinian grill has a lovely ambience, great views of the beach across the street, and even better steak and seafood. Lounge...Read More

  • 11. Playa de los Artistas

    $$$ | Italian

    Arty driftwood tables and sculpted chairs scattered along the rocky beach and an inventive Mediterranean menu have made this one of the most...Read More

  • 12. Product C Playa Carmen

    $ | Seafood

    For the freshest, tastiest, and most affordable seafood in town, make a beeline to this fish market and restaurant that also features the most...Read More

  • 13. Restaurant Deevena

    $$$ | French

    An unexpected outpost of divine French cuisine, this oasis of elegance overlooks a sparkling blue pool edged by lush palms, while lounge chairs...Read More

  • 14. Seasons by Shlomy

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    At his intimate, poolside restaurant in the casually chic Hotel Arco Iris, innovative Israeli-born and Cordon Bleu–trained chef Shlomy Koren...Read More

  • 15. The Lookout

    $$ | Seafood

    As if the breathtaking view high in the hills above Playas del Coco weren't enough (you may recognize it from its feature on the television...Read More

  • 16. Tres Hermanas Bar-B-Q & Grill

    $$$ | Barbecue

    This roadside grill is home to the country's best barbecued pork and beef, slow roasted for 16 to 18 hours over a wood fire and served with...Read More

  • 17. Ylang Ylang Restaurant

    $$$ | Vegetarian

    One of Montezuma's most scenic and sophisticated restaurants, Ylang Ylang is nestled between the beach and the jungle, offering views of waves...Read More

  • 18. Angelina’s

    $$$ | Italian

    Guanacaste-inspired and locally sourced, the cuisine here pays tribute to the owner's Italian roots with dishes like lobster tail served with...Read More

  • 19. Aqua Sport

    $$ | Peruvian

    There’s not much “aqua sport” going on at this Peruvian beachfront restaurant, unless you count drinking margaritas in a hammock. It’s the kind...Read More

  • 20. Beach Box

    $ | Mexican

    On the dirt road to Playa Avellanas, just before you hit the water, is the appropriately named Beach Box—a breakfast joint serving fresh-squeezed...Read More

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