Tag Archives: Costa Rica food

Feasting in Costa Rica – Your Guide to a Typical Soda Experience

Want to go feasting like a local on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica? Then get the lowdown on sodas, the most traditional eateries of all.

Indulging in a country’s culinary specialties is one of the most revered travel experiences and, when enjoying an adventure vacation in Costa Rica, you shouldn’t miss visiting the country’s best sodas. Low-key, family-owned joints, sodas are the country’s traditional restaurants, usually serving up regional fair you won’t find anywhere else.  Sodas always boast plenty of authentic charm and even more authentic cuisine, offering unrivalled Costa Rica culinary experiences for very little money.

Spicy, varied and inexpensive!

Sodas do more than offer great food at great prices: they’re a genius way of tipping one’s toes into the local cuisine as many offer buffet-style meals which means you can pick and choose what entices you most and try a little of many different dishes. Ideal for families or groups of friends traveling together, sodas offer amazing variety of food. Moreover, they totally contradict the mistaken assumption that Tico food is not spicy. Taking center stage on most soda tables are jars of spicy pickled vegetables, called chileras, which complement every dish beautifully. In Costa Rica, chili is often considered a condiment, to be added (or not) to your liking, so if you wish to spice things up then chilera-away to your heart’s content!

What we also love about sodas is that they are, quite literally, on every street corner and even in the middle or roads seemingly leading nowhere, in Costa Rica. No matter where in the country you choose to enjoy your unforgettable adventure vacation…you’re bound to come across a myriad of sodas.

See a soda sign? STOP and feast away!

In contrast to average restaurants, sodas usually don’t offer menus (you get whatever the daily specials are) although the recent rise in their popularity among foreign visitors has also seen a rise in sodas offering menus or, at the very least, chalk-boards detailing the daily specials.

What kind of dishes you should expect to savor in a Costa Rica soda

Typically, Costa Rica’s sodas serve a ‘menu of the day’ consisting of an entrée (entrada), traditional plates of rice with beans (gallo pinto), rice with chicken or seafood (casados) and main courses (platos fuertes) which are usually main-course sized fish, steak, chicken or whatever special ingredient has been bought fresh on the day. Many sodas also offer buffets which tourist seem to love most, because, as said earlier, it gives them a chance to try a flurry of different dishes. Do note that these are not your usual eat-all-you-can deals: in Costa Rica, you pile your plate from a buffet and pay by weight. The typical drink offered in a soda is fruit juice, either blended with water (naturales) or milk (batido).

Hearty and inexpensive meals, cooked the traditional way that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater!

Don’t speak Spanish? No problem!

If you’re Spanish isn’t all that crash-hot, don’t be scared off! Ticos love their food, love their sodas and love nothing more than a tourist who wants to try them out, so you’ll find staff members always willing to help you understand the ‘menu of the day’. In a Costa Rica soda, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and treated like family and if this is the kind of culinary and cultural experience you’re after then you’re assured of much more than a sensational meal.


Gallo Pinto, the country’s national dish, is rice cooked with beans. Enjoy your Gallo Pinto the way locals do, with a serve of scrambled eggs for breakfast.




Casados are whole meals onto themselves, usually including multiple starches with chicken, beef or seafood, served with a fried egg or salad, and side serve of sweet plantains. One of these bad boys, in a typical Costa Rica Soda, will set you back just a couple of dollars.

Catering primarily to locals, sodas open early (7am) and close after the dinner rush, between 9 and 10pm.

The Best Sodas in Costa Rica

It’s literally impossible to list all of the country’s very best sodas and you will invariably find hidden gems on your travels that we’ve yet to try out. Nevertheless, give these amazing popular sodas a try if you’re in the area and come eat like a local, and get a glimpse of authentic Tico life, on your next visit to Costa Rica.

Soda Tipica Las Palmares, Montezuma – Combining sensational coastal views with mouthwatering guacamole and an impressive vegetarian casado, Las Palmares offers huge servings, great service and super yummy food. Its idyllic location atop a hill overlooking the sea really makes Las Palmares a must-try.

Soda Tapia, San Jose – Tapia is a San Jose institution and seems to have been here since time immemorial. They also never seem to close – like, ever – so whatever time of day or night you’re attacked by the munchies, you can be guaranteed a fabulous feast here. Great tamales, awesome sandwiches and friendly service translates into an excellent cheap and cheerful meal when exploring Parque La Sabana.

Soda La Perla, Playa Samara – A great alternative to the at-times overpriced touristy restaurants of Samara, La Perla is, as the name suggests, an absolute pearl. The outdoor eating area makes you feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s private garden and that really epitomizes the Costa Rica soda experience. Huge portions of delectable local specialties, lots of seafood delights and arguably the best fruit smoothies around. A fantastic choice either before (or after) a long day enjoying the stunning beach of Samara.

Soda Ranchito Dona Maria, Uvita – One of the peskiest sodas to find, Dona Maria is a hidden gem in Uvita and rates as one of the best sodas in the region. Traditional and super tasty meals, a variety of options and an incredibly charming joint to top it off. Homemade food, huge servings and that ubiquitous friendly service that makes this a beloved local delight.

Soda el Buen Comer, Tamarindo – Being one of Costa Rica’s most touristed destinations means that Tamarindo is certainly not short of food options. Great restaurants and trendy cafés abound as does an array of international cuisines. For amazing local meals that won’t cost a fortune, however, you can’t walk past Buen Comer. Offering superb local food, friendly service and inarguably the best value for money in town, Buen Comer is a great option if you want to indulge in traditional Tico fare downtown. The menu is not overly extensive but what’s served is, hands-down, always delicious!

Want to explore more of Costa Rica’s culinary side? Then go ahead and peruse our selection of culinary blogs.

Our Costa Rica adventure vacations serve up the best Tico experiences of all…traditional food included! So come indulge your taste buds and enjoy superlative action-packed adventures in Costa Rica with us. We specialize in multi-adventure tours for families, honeymooning couples and solo travelers and can tailor-design an itinerary to suit your tastes and budget. We always endeavor to offer more than just a lot of incredible fun experiences and aim to give you a taste of true Tico life, combining authentic cultural and culinary experiences that showcase the uniqueness of our beloved home.

Contact us here for more info.


Best Restaurants in Tamarindo – Culinary Treats to Seek!

Plan your culinary exploits as you explore the stunning area and experience the restaurants in Tamarindo, Costa Rica’s hub of beach-side active vacations

Costa Rica’s most revered beach destination is on most visitor’s tour itinerary and it’s not hard to see why that would be. Superbly located just an hour south of the Liberia International Airport, the town sits on some of the best surfing beaches in the country, with prominent turtle nesting sites nearby and the prized Las Baulas National Marine Park on its doorstep. With volcanoes-filled national parks just a stone-throw away – prime sites for hiking and zip lining – the town makes a fabulous base for all sorts of Costa Rica active vacation experiences. To complete the delectable picture, Tamarindo also offers a bevy of gastronomic experiences, thanks to its central location and popularity. From casual fare in chilled-out cafés to sumptuous sunset dinners in the town’s most revered high-end restaurants, Tamarindo offers a plentitude of delightful culinary delights.

Best Restaurants in Tamarindo for a Casual Meal

Whether you’re up for a leisurely breakfast or a short-and-sweet lunch-break between excursions, you’ll find a wide array of casual eateries in Tamarindo that offer great fare at reasonable prices with super-swift service.

Here are three of our favorites:


Genially found right on the main drag in between surf shops, Sprout offers exceptionally fresh fare and a chilled-out beach-vibe to match. Loads of fresh sandwiches and an array of salads will satisfy health-foodies whilst enough of the naughty stuff (fried calamari, pork sliders, jalapeno quesadillas and hand-cut chips) ought to convince those craving a splurge to stop in and have a feast. With a happy hour that lasts for 3 (3-6pm) and flowing cocktails, this place is a gem at any time of day.

Little Lucha Taqueria

Restauraunts in TamarindoLucha’s been a Tamarindo favorite since, it would seem, time immemorial and we’re quite sure that just a bite of their revered tacos will also make it yours. Yes, tacos! Lots and lots of them of a thousand different kinds!

From seafood to meat and a host of vegetarian options, Little Lucha is the one Tex-Mex place that never disappoints. Head here for Taco Tuesday specials and gorge with abandon.

La Bodega

If you’re looking for a daily fave, a place you can just roll in to of an early morning for a wicked cup of organic coffee and a healthy, revitalizing breakfast, then La Bodega is the place for you.

Here, you can dunk your toasted banana bread in your coffee or start the day Tico-style, with a giant plate of gallo pinto. Fabulous breakfast sandwiches and fresh juices are just the thing for a light snack. Street-front tables are great for people watching and the friendliness of the staff is one of the most commendable bonuses and, in case you’re wondering, there are even healthy sweet-treats to boot.

Best Restaurants in Tamarindo for a Special Dinner

Sunsets in Tamarindo are spectacular and what better way to enjoy a special dinner than enjoying the view and a fabulous meal in a gorgeous place? For romantic nights and some up-market atmosphere, there are some truly special dinners to be had in Tamarindo.

Here are just three to try on your next visit:

Langosta Beach Club

Langosta is south of the main drag, which gives its seaside restaurant a much more intimate (and quieter) ambience. Perfect for a romantic sunset dinner.

Make a day of it by enjoying the beach club facilities and stay until the sun dips beyond the horizon to enjoy great sushi and fresh seafood fare that’s caught daily. The burgers are excellent too! The ever-changing menu makes the Langosta Beach Club a wonderful place to return to during your stay and you’ll find a bevy of cocktails and beers on ice just waiting for you to arrive.

El Chiringuito

The great all-rounder, this ocean-front delight is open from 7am to late evening, offering delicious seaside brekkies and stunning sunset dinners, with lots of delicious morsels and drinks in-between. At sunset, grab a front-row table and let your toes sink into the still-warm sand and see which freshly-caught fish is on the menu for the day. Yummy cocktails and excellent food make El Chiringuito a stellar choice.

Diria Hotel Restaurant

OK, we’re totally biased here – with Diria being one of our favored Tamarindo hotels – but there’s a reason we honed in on it in the first place. This glorious family-friendly luxury hotel is a corner of paradise in Tamarindo, framed by prime wilderness and offering a cozy and private escape in the country’s foremost beach destination.

Beautifully shaded by enormous palm and fruit trees, the ocean-front restaurant is just the thing on a hot Costa Rican day. The gastronomic delights at its FIVE restaurants is excellent, as are the refreshments offered in its four bars. For an exceptional dining experience, book a table at the Diria’s Matapalo Restaurant – the hotel’s ‘showpiece’ – and enjoy the priceless view with your exquisite meal. The home-made ceviche is heavenly and a must-try.

Tamarindo is a prime spot for active vacations in Costa Rica and makes for a wonderful base to explore the Guanacaste region. Check out our Tamarindo Guide to discover all the highlights on offer in this marvelous hub of fun, surf and magical sea. At Costa Rica Rios, we love showing off this unique corner of the country and organize active vacation itineraries for honeymooning couples, families or anyone who’s up for an exhilarating time. Visit our Costa Rica Adventure Vacations page and contact us for more info.


The Best Foodie Tours in Costa Rica

Costa Rica foodie toursFoodie tours are becoming increasingly popular in Costa Rica and make for fantastic additions to active vacations, where the emphasis is, primarily, on enjoying the adrenaline-pumping pursuits for which this country is so revered.

Mind you, the cuisine in Costa Rica and the country’s predilection for organic, home-grown ingredients and home-made food, means your taste buds will be delighted at every single meal here. Nevertheless, with the latest addition of Costa Rica to the slow-food movement and the world’s recognition of the country as an exceptional fresh-food grower and producer, food tours can add an in-depth experience to what is already bound to be an unforgettable journey.

Selection of the best foodie tours in Costa Rica for 2018:

Don Olivo Chocolate Tour – La Fortuna

Consistently rated THE favorite food tour in the country by visitors, Don Olivo is not to be missed if you’re in the Arenal Volcano region. This 2hr guided trip offers a behind the scenes look not only at local chocolate production methods but also all the other goodies grown in this luscious and prolific family-owned farm. Tastings are generous and varied (of fruit and cane sugar juice as well as mouthwatering chocolate) and, combined with the passion of the hosting family, help make this the most delicious and high-rated tour of all.

Costa Rica Cooking – La Fortuna

Cooking classes for the gourmand traveler who loves nothing more than to get involved in the making of local specialties, Costa Rica Cooking classes are inarguably the most polished and professional in the region. US chef and Costa Rica restaurateur Scott Alan and his dedicated team of local chefs will astound you with their culinary creations which, you follow all the steps correctly…can be your creations too! Local favorites and international delights using organic local ingredients make up the sumptuous meals in the cooking classes, which you can either help create or just admire and learn. Scott and his team will happily organize bespoke classes for families or groups of friends traveling together, and you can incorporate a visit to a local farmer’s market as well, for that ultimate ‘farm to table’ foodie tour experience.

Foodie Tours Costa Rica – San Jose

San Jose can be overwhelming to the unaccustomed, with the sprawling and busy city usually seen as a mere springboard for onwards travels through the country. But if there’s one reason to hang around for a day, it would definitely be Foodie Tours Costa Rica. Ingenious Adriana Font, the brains behind the concept, creates foodie tours itineraries that are custom-made for each client, matching tastes and interests with local hidden spots to deliver a personalized service that’s impossible to beat. Whether you want to delve into the vegetarian side of Costa Rican cuisine, or fusion, desserts or perhaps a farm-to-table experience (which includes 6 meals in 3 different restaurants) Adriana will take your taste buds to new heights and showcase the city’s trendiest and best eateries. Moreover, you’ll learn a lot about local cuisine and ancient recipes. A small, tailor-made service that’s certainly found its niche-market in the capital, Foodie Tours also organizes public tours on occasion, so check with their FB page before you go.

Tropical Gardens Cooking School – Playa Samara

A gorgeous private home set up to accommodate authentic cooking classes that incorporate organic local produce, a love for the earth and a desire for wholesome, healthy cooking, the Tropical Garden Cooking School is an absolute feast for all the senses. The cooking is traditional, the ingredients locally grown and the menu designed with your tastes and dietary restrictions in mind. A splendidly luscious foodie experience in one of Costa Rica’s most delightful coastal regions. A variety of cooking tours are on offer, including tamales-making and bond-fire cooking.

A foodie tour or cooking class makes for a wonderful add-on to Costa Rica adventure vacations. Keen to taste your way through the country as you indulge in exceptional adventure? Let us know! We’ll be happy to organize cultural and culinary experiences for your next trip with us.


Costa Rica Travel: A Food Extravaganza

Costa Rica foods

If your future vacation plans are taking you to Costa Rica then you’re in for some amazing meals! Known for their mild yet flavorful cuisine, the food in Costa Rica is both homey and healthy. For many vacationers the main attraction to a specific area is the food (and special dishes do make up a larger portion of our identifying cultures). You’ll enjoy many meals with your family and fellow travelers as you enjoy the beautiful land of Costa Rica.
The City of Costa Rica has put millions of dollars into its tourism and since people from all over the world vacation there, you can find and taste just about any type of food you want. But, if you’re looking for authentic cuisine you’re going to love the local fare as well. Rice and beans are a staple that are served at just about every meal, including breakfast! You’ll also find a heavy use of plantain, from the banana family, which can be fried, mashed, cooked into chips or made into soup.
A typical breakfast features rice and black beans, eggs, tortillas, fried plantains and a big cup of coffee! Main meat dishes use pork or beef but you can also get chicken and fish (especially along the coast).
Although the meals can be starchy, the use of an abundance of fruits and vegetables and lack of dairy products make this a fairly healthy nutritional region. The tropical fruits and veggies found in Costa Rica will make meal time fun and educational for the whole family, not to mention delicious! You’ll have plenty of fresh papaya, guava, watermelon and coconut to eat! In fact, coconut is another “Tico” favorite and is featured in many dishes.
Costa Rica’s main export is coffee, and rich bold coffee is available everywhere you look. It’s a caffeine lover’s dream vacation! Served black or with milk, the fresh beans are hard to beat. Another local special you can enjoy while shopping in the tourists districts is Agua de pipa (quite literally a young green coconut with a straw). Suffice to say, you will be well feed during your Costa Rica Rios Adventure Vacation!