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Does anyone know of some good places to eat in Costa Rica that are a cut above the standard fare mentioned in the topic line of this thread? We're heading off tomorrow. I won't bother mentioning exactly where we'll be, just give me any ideas you might have based on experience. Thanks!

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I really thought I had posted about a few places from our trip in 2007, but can't find a post anywhere. Food wasn't the highlight of the trip, but we had a few nice/interesting meals. The one I remember most was at a little place called Ginger, in Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste). Here's Frommer's listing and a little write-up from a local newsletter:

This stylish and modern tapas bar/restaurant resembles a tree house when you catch a glimpse of it from the main road in Playa Hermosa. The open-air platform floats about 20 feet above the ground… just high enough to be cooled by the ocean breezes. The only wall is painted a vibrant red, the same color as wild ginger.

Ginger offers an exceptional menu of small dishes, so you'll find extraordinary choices, such as chicken satay with a macadamia nut rub, seared ahi tuna served in a crispy taco, ginger-glazed chicken wings, spring rolls, and mahi mahi marinated in vodka and Asian spices. Though the dishes are served tapas style (small portions more like samples), our group of four ordered 10 different menu items and shared a tasting of each one.

In Liberia, very inexpensive, traditional food (but not just rice and beans) was found at Los Comales, run by a women's collective. It is clean, but a bit of a dive - lots of single working men in the clientele when we were there.

If you go to Tabacon Springs (and I recommend you do), near Arenal Volcano, skip the buffet option and opt for a ticket with access to the hot springs only. Looking at their website, it's possible they make you buy a meal with the ticket. The food was so-so - you're better off just enjoying a cocktail at one of the pool bars and maybe ordering a sandwich/burger.

Father Rooster's, a beach-front bar and grill near where we stayed, was our go-to while in Ocotal. Nothing special, but a fun place to have a beer or cocktail and a sandwich for lunch or dinner. We also at a LOT of ceviche while we were in Costa Rica.

Sorry if none of these places are near your destination(s) - the birds, plants, animals, and other scenery are the highlights in my memory. Have a great time!

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Thanks! We will be staying near Arenal, and these comments were very useful.
The town of La Fortuna is near (just a few miles east) of Arenal - there's nothing really fancy foodwise there, but there are several small places in town (El Jardin or Don Rufino's might have been places that we tried and enjoyed for the local ambiance). The waterfall near town is also worth a visit (though the 800 steps might be a little steep going back up if the little ones are with you) - bring your bathing suits for a refreshing dip after the trek down. There was also a fun roadhouse just south of town, but the name escapes me. If the weather is clear, Paraiso Arenal resort has a restaurant with a nice view of the volcano (and so-so food).

In Nuevo Arenal, Tom's Pan German Bakery is a relaxing place to stop for a coffee (though I realize German food may not be quite what you're looking for :D ) - if it's still open. It looks like the place is for sale.

If I can find any trip notes or remember any other restaurant ideas, I'll post them tonight. (Sightseeing tip - I recommend the hanging bridges - a beautiful spot with lots of wildlife.)

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Does anyone know of some good places to eat in Costa Rica that are a cut above the standard fare mentioned in the topic line of this thread? We're heading off tomorrow. I won't bother mentioning exactly where we'll be, just give me any ideas you might have based on experience. Thanks!

Had so many super meals all over that country, but can't remember the specific haunts, sorry! One important foodie tip, however. You'll quickly become addicted to the national dish, gallo pinto (yes, the subject of your message thread). One symptom of said addiction is a painful craving for the condiment called Salsa Lizano. Like me, you'll try to bring some back to the states. And, like me, you'll have the bottle confiscated by airport security because it exceeds the liquid threshold. Don't worry about it, you can buy Salsa Lizano when you return home. The Central American markets carry it, so do several online vendors, even amazon.com.

Pura Vida!

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Had so many super meals all over that country, but can't remember the specific haunts, sorry! One important foodie tip, however. You'll quickly become addicted to the national dish, gallo pinto (yes, the subject of your message thread). One symptom of said addiction is a painful craving for the condiment called Salsa Lizano. Like me, you'll try to bring some back to the states. And, like me, you'll have the bottle confiscated by airport security because it exceeds the liquid threshold. Don't worry about it, you can buy Salsa Lizano when you return home. The Central American markets carry it, so do several online vendors, even amazon.com.

Pura Vida!

As much as I like rice and beans, I grew quickly tired of gallo pinto day in, day out, every meal.

If you haven't locked in your plans for La Fortuna, I can highly recommend Rancho Margot, if you're looking for a place off the beaten path. It's an eco-ranch run by a Chilean-American and in spite of the fact that it's off the grid, they generate their own hydroelectric power and have wifi access to the cabins. They grow their own vegetables and meat and have a small dairy to produce fresh cheese daily. While I can't say that the meals are spectacular, they do a decent job.

It's a perfect place to unwind for a week or so. Just google "rancho margot" and you'll find it. Buen viaje!

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