Whether you are looking for things to do in Costa Ballena or looking to purchase real estate in Southern Costa Rica, within a few hours you’re going to be looking for a place to eat.
In the Southern zone, once you leave the Quepos area heading south, the first sizable community you come to is Dominical, about 45 minutes south on the coastal highway. That’s not to minimize the smaller communities along the way, but to say that when you hit Dominical your options for activities to try, places to stay, and things to eat increase dramatically.
Even before you get to town, look left in Matapalo for Langosta Feliz right beside the highway. It has some of the best seafood in the area. In Dominical itself, there are about 16 restaurants varying from a back-of-the-grocery-story delicatessen to a Mexican fusion kind of place on the
Dominical is pretty easy to navigate, with only one main street, so you’ll see options just by cruising through town. In case you wants some ideas of what to look for, watch for these:
For specialty foods, consider Sol Frozen Yoghurt (desserts), Phat Noodle (Asian noodle fusion), Mono Congo (Drinks, Bakery, Cool Stuff), Sushi, Pescado Loco (fish tacos) and Del Mar Taco (Tacos, burritos), La Casita Pizza, Mama Toucans (deli sandwichs and salads), Fuego’s (Microbrewery and restaurant) and Tortilla Flats (Mexican fusion plus).
For places that offer a bit of everything, from steaks to seafood to typical Costa Rican dishes, check out Villas Rio Mar, Su Raza, Diuwak, Coco’s and Maracatú. To get a more authentic Costa Rican experience, don’t overlook the little “Sodas” along the
way. Sodas are hole-in-the-wall places to eat. Tucked into nooks and crannies, they offer Costa Rican food that often rivals anything you’d get at the fancier places.
Don’t know what to order?
Try a “casado”. You’ll have a choice of meats and the dish will come with rice, black beans, salad, and maybe fried plantains. It often includes a fruit drink too, making it one of the most filling, economical dishes around.
South of Dominical there are a couple other worthy mentions. Por Que No has a different kind of menu that’s popular as well as a killer view of ocean waves breaking on rock formations (make a reservation in high season). La Parcela sits on a finger of land so you can see ocean breakers on both sides. Villas Alturas has such a fantastic view that you won’t care what you’re eating. And Cuna del Angel’s menu is classy and gluten free.
Much more could be written, and has been, about dining out in Costa Rica. So just a few
You can drink the water. Costa Rica has done a very good job of ensuring water quality around the country. We rarely hear complaints about stomach problems, and when we do, we doubt that it was the water. Portions are often generous. We keep our own “take home” containers in our car to save on single use plastic or Styrofoam when we want to keep some for another meal. You might consider that too. We even have our own stainless steel straws. Every little bit helps.
Fruit smoothies are the elixir of the gods here. If you don’t like them too sweet, don’t forget to mention “no sugar.” Usually the fresh fruits used in the smoothies are sweet enough by themselves.
Tipping is confusing. Check your bill at fancier restaurants and you’ll see that a 10% (minimum) service charge has already been added. So do you add more of a tip yourself? It’s up to you. Most Costa Ricans do not tip any more than what’s on the bill. Many foreigners do so out of
habit. You do what you are comfortable with.
Finally, enjoy the culinary adventure and interact with the people who cook for you and serve you. Food is embedded in culture, so your appreciation for “their” food automatically translates into your appreciation for “them”.