“When I lived in Tamarindo between 2012 and 2014, I fell in love.”
When I lived in Tamarindo between 2012 and 2014, I fell in love. Not only with a tanned local hottie, but also with the town’s awesome laid back vibe, beach culture, cute shops, awesome little waves and the crazy mix of people who call the town home.
I also fell in love with the food. Since Tamarindo is populated by at least as many expats from the US, Israel, Germany, Argentina, Denmark, France, South Africa, and a kaleidoscope of other countries, it only follows that the food there should be just as multicultural.
But – be forewarned. Tamarindo has its fair share of tourist trap restaurants with absurd prices and awful food. Instead, try out these faves that my friends and I would highly recommend.
While Lola’s isn’t technically in Tamarindo (it’s in Playa Avellanas, about 20 minutes away), it’s by far the best food in the Tama area, and unlike many eateries on this list, serves traditional Costa Rican and fusion food in pretty much the best atmosphere you could dream of.
Try the ceviche, the seared ahi salad, the fish and chips (ask for it grilled), and pair with a local beer or a batido (smoothie).
Meanwhile you’re sitting right on the beach, watching some of the best waves and surfers in the area, in the shade of an almond tree. The gorgeous raw-edge tables and chairs are made from local Guanacaste wood. Many of the staff who work here have been around for years and are also lifeguards protecting the beach.
Note that Lola’s is closed on Mondays.
There are few restaurants left in Tamarindo that serve great Costa Rican food. Although Wild Panda is better known for its all-day, every day two for 1 cocktails and the hilarious slogan “Suck my cocktails”, their food is surprisingly delicious and affordable.
Get the ceviche or the fish casado, and wash it down with a pair of watermelon vodkas. You won’t pay more than about $16 USD for a meal and two drinks.
If you see Junior working there, tell him Muffin says hi.
Falafel Bar, on the main road in Tama (not the beach road – the one that goes up the hill) makes, in my opinion, the best budget-friendly dinner in town. Their falafel plates are filling and always fresh, and are priced at around $12 USD.
I’m partial to the fried chicken falafel plate. But the wraps and hummus plates are to die for as well.
For a quick snack, pick up a pack of their pitas. They’re the softest, dreamiest things.
You know those restaurants where the chef comes out and meets his guests? That’s Shlomy. Originally from Israel, Shlomy now heads up the best of Tamarindo’s fine dining establishments. Seated next to a sparkling pool, you can feast on marinated octopus, filet mignon, mahi-mahi and an array of vegan dishes. Go hungry and with a healthy wallet.
Beside Hotel Nahua, diagonal from Banco Nacional, Provincia de Guanacaste, Tamarindo, Costa Rica (map, website)
One of the last bastions of great breakfast in Tamarindo is at La Bodega, a super cozy little spot with an awesome patio that’s made for people-watching on a hot morning. La Bodega specializes in locally sourced ingredients and food that’s made with love, and they have a rotating tap of infused teas. My favourite is the hibiscus.
The meals here aren’t really Costa Rican specialties, but it’s great food and awesome service, ever time.
I’ll venture to say that La Baula serves some of the best Italian-style pizza outside of Italy. La Baula is a local favourite and is one of few restaurants in town that are busy every night of the week, year round – even in the rainy season.
The thin, cripsy crust is done perfectly every time, and the toppings are always fresh. Go with friends and share a few pizzas so you can try several flavours. To find La Baula, take the road up the hill (left off of the beach road) and pass by Wild Panda and the BAC bank. Turn left at the big white condo building, then left again right after La Oveja Negra hostel.
Also, check out their Facebook page to see an adorable video of dozens of baby baulas (sea turtles) attempting to crawl along the sandy beach.
Facebook/Pizzeria La Baula
Where’s your favorite place to eat in Tamarindo? Share with us in the comments.