Out of hundreds of travel reviews we’ve gotten we’ve never had one that spontaneously raved about the food in Costa Rica. Occasionally someone will mention a particular restaurant or resort, but on average they find the food pretty average and prices high.
It’s hard to make much of an argument for amazing culinary prowess when the most famous (infamous?) dish on the menu is also considered one of the blandest in the world. Gallo Pinto is beans and rice…plain and simple… and visitors both rave “pinto was my favorite” and moan “if I never see another plate of rice and beans again it will be too soon.”
On Average the Food in Costa Rica is…Well, Average
We can’t disagree, and it’s one of the reasons that the prices seem so high. It’s one thing to pay $10 for an amazing sandwich or tiny twelve inch personal pizza, but it’s completely another thing to pay that much for an average lunch.
We’re not idiots, we get it that when the ski slopes of Aspen are in the background, Mickey Mouse is posing with the kids, or Scarlet Macaws are screeching in the mangroves at the end of the beach, prices will be higher. Somehow though when we’re in a restaurant instead of a sports stadium or amusement park we expect the quality to be higher too.
There are exceptions to the mediocre restaurants if you know where to find them.
The Caribbean coast gets a (undeserved) bad rap in Costa Rica but one thing that’s clear is that the little independent restaurants strung from Cahuita to Manzanillo are the culinary champions of Costa Rican tourist destinations.
The only real competition would be the sprinkling of excellent restaurants in the upscale urban landscape where brokers, lawyers and real estate developers concentrate around Escazú. But, on the southern Carib you can hop on a beach cruiser bike and spend the entire day touring the coast stopping at a different exceptional restaurant for each meal which makes crowning the king a no-brainer.