Most visit Costa Rica for its incredible biodiversity -- beautiful flowering plants, rainforests, monkeys, birds, and turtles. Increasingly, the far northern western province of Guanacaste, home to Costa Rica's "Gold Coast" beaches, is a destination for foodies. And we're not talking about the restaurants at the area's luxury resorts. Yes, the Four Seasons offers wonderful dining, but you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you don't try these places.

  • Villa Deevena on Playa Negra. This beautiful and unique lodging and dining location is off the beaten path, but that didn't stop the New York Times from running down the story about the delicious meals prepared by Chef Patrick Jamon, his wife Tasia design capabilities and warm hospitality, and his children's attentive service. I've enjoyed some of the best meals I've had anywhere in the world in this zen-like establishment, while enjoying light conversation with the chef himself and Tasia. Best items on the menu (or off -- ask for them), in my humble opinion, are a composed mango, avocado and grilled shrimp starter, the simple and perfectly prepared and presented lemon sole, and a smooth creme brûlée. The most unexpectedly delightful dish I've enjoyed at Villa Deevena was a bowl full of sauteed chanterelles that the chef and his son harvested from the hills the day they were served. Fantastic wine list, and great recommendations from sommelier/server/son of the chef Dean. Worth the journey. and
  • Maracuya Beach Club at Bahia Pez Vela at Playa Ocotal. This is a relatively new establishment and the first independent restaurant operated by Chef Nicolas Devenelle. Chef Devenelle also runs Poro Poro, part of the Exclusive Resorts establishment on the other side of the Bay of Culebra. Bahia Pez Vela is the only development set in a serene black sand cove off the renowned (and busy) Playa Ocotal. The restaurant is next to the beach and the setting is simply the most beautiful, secluded, and romantic you'll find in the area. The menu is an ambitious mix of locally available fresh foods and French influence. On a good night, it is sublime. On a not so good night, it is better than anything else you'll enjoy in the area. Friday night barbecue is popular, and the pork ribs -- hard to find in Costa Rica -- are terrific. The cocktails are always exceptional -- think of a ruby red dragonfruit and vodka concoction with a sprig of singed rosemary that infuses every sip with a bit of herbal smoke, or a taste bomb mango chipotle margarita. Stay in one of the comfortable homes in the Bahia Pez Vela community and you can dine here every night!
  • Citron in Playas del Coco. Citron is in the Pacifico Center, just down from the Hard Rock Cafe. The restaurant offers air conditioned inside dining in a very simple but sophisticated setting, and outdoor dining on the deck. The menu is limited but superb, and the sea bass and pork tenderloin are always perfectly prepared in the open kitchen. Cocktails include an incredible ginger margarita.
  • La Casita del Mariscos at Playa Hermosa. This little restaurant offers large servings of incredibly fresh seafood at very reasonable prices. It doesn't look like much, but it is set directly on the beach, which is spectacular. We enjoy the Seafood Sambuca, which is fresh fish smothered in a fresh fruit salsa spiked with Sambuca, an anise flavored liquor. Pair it with a sourMargarita's to cut the sweetness, and you have a perfect ending to a fine day in Paradise.
  • Ginger in Playa Hermosa town. Sophisticated, tree-house setting that offers Asian-influenced tapas of great flavor. Never disappoints. We love everything on the menu, but won't leave without a plate of the firecracker shrimp, the ahi tuna, or the Mongolian ribs.
  • Father Rooster's. Beach bar on Playa Ocotal that has upped its culinary game over the last few years. Now offering very fresh and inventive sushi rolls on Wednesday nights, and fresh seafood tacos in additional to more traditional casual foods. The drinks are HUGE. Rooster's often features live music that tends to be a several talent and entertainment value notches above offerings at other locations in the area. If you are in town when Carlos Hiller is doing a painting in collaboration with Costa Rican musicians Brucho y Rafa, call ahead for reservations. It's an incredible experience.
  • Mokoko at Mangroove Hotel at Playa Panama. While I discouraged succumbing to resort restaurants, this one is worth it. Lunch at the beach club is a reasonably priced way to get out of the sun while still being part of the fun. Dinner at the restaurant is a special event -- open air, polished surfaces, subtle design, quiet, and superb food. I choose the fresh sea bass with a horseradish beet sauce, and am always thrilled when they make the effort to serve gluten free breads to me to sate my hunger. Good wine list, fine cocktails. Special event worthy.

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Villa Las Olas, Beachfront & Pool, Bahia Pez Vela

3 Bedrooms  2.5 Bathrooms
5IconIconIconIconIcon121 reviews
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