Fodor's Expert Review Sabor Español

$$$ Ballena National Marine Park Spanish Fodor's Choice

Authentic paella, made with nutty, saffron-infused Spanish rice and the freshest seafood, is the main reason to wend your way along a rutted dirt road behind Playa Ballena to this jungle outpost of Catalan cuisine. The smallish, open-air rancho is nothing fancy, with wooden chairs and tables and a few potted palms, but it fills up fast. The warm welcome along with the expertly executed Catalonian menu quickly dispel any qualms about the seriousness of this restaurant. There's a classic, spicy, Andalusian gazpacho for starters or tapas to share while you wait the 40 minutes for your cooked-to-order paella. Try the delicate, sweet mussels, bathed in a spicy wine sauce, or the succulent mushrooms marinated in garlic and olive oil. The list of seafood specialties includes whiskey-flambéed shrimp, and meat-lovers can sink their teeth into sirloin slathered with a wine-and-fresh-grape sauce. Chicken takes on tropical flavors with sauces featuring mango, rum, and curry. The pace is a little leisurely, but a pitcher of excellent sangria, studded with tropical fruit chunks, helps to pass the time enjoyably. There are only five or six tables at this dinner-only restaurant, so reservations are advised.

Spanish Dinner $$$ Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

1 km (½ mile) south of Uvita BM Supermercado along Costanera
Bahía Ballena, Puntarenas  60504, Costa Rica


Known For:
  • Whiskey-flambéed shrimp
  • Garlicky marinated mushrooms
  • Sangria by the pitcher
Restaurant Details:
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Sept. 15–Dec. 15. No lunch, No credit cards

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