Travel plans are starting to look more like a possibility this summer and after a mostly shut-in 2020, I know so many people are excited to explore new areas safely again. My husband and I actually had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for our friends’ wedding in January 2021, and it was such a wonderful experience. From the beautiful elopement ceremony, to the natural beauty of Costa Rica, to the excursions, it was a trip we will remember forever. As a millennial traveler, one thing I always ask for recommendations on when exploring a new place is where to eat!
Below, I’ve listed all the restaurants we ate at during our week-long stay in the Tamarindo and Playa Langosta, Costa Rica area. I give all the credit for the restaurant selections to our friends who planned the trip for their wedding. They are excellent planners and picked all of the establishments we ate at. All of the food was good, but some were straight up culinary marvels. We did go during the COVID-19 pandemic, but everyone wore masks and followed CDC social distancing guidelines. All restaurants and venues followed the same protocols, so we truly felt safe. As always, travel at your own risk and only if you feel safe enough to do so. But without further ado, let’s get into the list of restaurants, shall we?
1- El Barco Restaurant at Hotel Capitan Suizo
Our first day in Costa Rica was your typical arrival day. Arrive in your new location, go through Customs, find transportation into the city, and check into your hotel. We stayed in a beautiful private villa overlooking the ocean and explored the property. After enjoying some fresh, local mango and wine, we freshened up for dinner and headed out to El Barco Restaurant at Hotel Capitan Suizo. The atmosphere of this restaurant at night is simply stunning. Guests enjoy a dinner under the stars while enjoying the ambience of string lights, the private pool and hotel bar. We had a party of six and everyone enjoyed their meal. My beverage of the night was a caipirinha, which I had for the first time. The star of the drink is lime, and it is so refreshing. I opted for a pasta dish in red sauce. It was surprisingly sweet, yet savory. I loved it.
2- Langosta Beach Club
The next day, we drove to the public beach to soak up some sun and sand. After a few hours of chatting, playing in the waves and reading a bit, we all worked up an appetite and were ready for lunch. Our villa came with a temporary pass to the Langosta Beach Club and let me tell you, the casual atmosphere of beautiful people lounging around the pool mixed with locals and tourists enjoying cocktails and hearty fare right on the beach, you can’t beat it. I was so hungry, so I actually opted for a mushroom and Swiss burger with fries. I also had a pineapple mojito. Both were delicious!
3- Little Lucha
Later that night, we dined at Little Lucha, an authentic Mexican street style taco restaurant. When you walk into the restaurant, you can’t help but smile. With colorful framed art of luchadores and a Volkswagen bus that’s been transformed into high top seating, it’s a really fun and quaint atmosphere. There are so many combinations and flavor profiles you can create from the beef, chicken, barbacoa, pork or seafood tacos. And arguably, that is part of the fun! This meal was also one of the more reasonably priced on the trip, so that was also really nice.
Breakfast options? I thought you’d never ask. The day of the wedding ceremony, we ate at NOI Bistro. Located right in the middle of downtown Tamarindo, Noi is a charming eatery where you can find locals, expats and tourists enjoying a long or short meal, nonetheless satisfying. We were welcomed by the sweetest management team and truly enjoyed every second there. I ordered beans, poached eggs and salsa over a small tortilla with sweet potatoes, plantain chip and a side of avocado. The breakfast was fresh and tasty, but the coffee was phenomenal. They make their coffee in-house, and when served over ice, the ice seems to have creamer in it already. It was so sweet and cold, and gives you just the jolt of caffeine you need. I asked if their coffee was available for purchase and it was! So I ordered a bag of ground coffee beans to take home.
The next day, we had a morning excursion of zip lining and UTV riding in the rainforest. I am actually not that big of a fan of zip lining, but I did it for my friends! It was scary and fun at the same time. The guided UTV tour is an excellent way to see parts of Costa Rica that you normally wouldn’t see in the built up areas of town. After the excursion, we all were famished. We headed over to El Chiringuito for lunch. The beachfront establishment seems like a popular spot for surfers and beach goers, but don’t let the relaxed vibe fool you. The food here is so good! Crazy good! If I had to rate it, I’d say this was the best meal we had on the trip. We had ceviche and calamari as starters, and both dishes were so fresh and full of flavor. My main dish was the caramelized chicken wings with soy, which I’m crying that I didn’t take a picture of because it was just as beautiful as it was tasty. My husband had the grilled octopus kebabs over polenta and he said it was very good.
Our last full day of Tamarindo was spent shopping in town and winding down at the pool. It felt great to soak up those last few hours of Costa Rican sun while floating in the cool blue water. We couldn’t leave without one more memorable meal together, so we all got freshened up and drove to our last reservation as the sky faded into nightfall. We arrived at Pangas Beach Club in a more secluded area of Tamarindo. The atmosphere had everything we love: String lights, sand, candlelit tables and of course, food with flair. The food was good. We ordered a good bit of seafood around the table, including the mixed seafood platter, grilled lobster and lobster risotto. I closed out the night with a caipirinha.