Tamarindo is a veritable foodie haven: Dozens, if not hundreds of worth-your-time restaurants and joints, beachfront spreads and tiny holes-in-the-wall. If you don’t know where to go, it can all be a little overwhelming: everything just smells so good! Seafood and melting cheese, brick ovens and wood-fired grills… But, we’re getting distracted. (It’s easy to do, around all this excellent food.) And so, it’s for just this reason that we’ve updated our Tamarindo restaurants guide for 2019: to help you draft your list of must-eats and must-views.
Note that this latest interation of our restaurant guide doesn’t overwrite or cancel out any of our previous suggestions; they’re still delicious and highly recommended. We just wanted to give you a few more options. A little more room to experiment with your taste buds and hone your Tamarindo palate. A few more inspirations to try new things and taste new tastes. Or, to revisit old favorites. Because, you’ll want to. You really will. Tamarindo’s restaurants have a certain temptation.
So, as we say in Costa Rica, ¡provecho! Enjoy!
Best Tamarindo Restaurants for Breakfast
It’s not easy choosing the best restaurants in Tamarindo for breakfast. That is, not if we want to keep it to a manageable handful. The truth is, Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s foodie hubs: We have quality. We have abundance. And we have arguably the best breakfast views anywhere. So, it’s hard to pick.
Luckily, you don’t have to: For this 2019 version of our Tamarindo restaurant guide, we’ve pulled out five of our favorite breakfast spots, some with above-the-rest coffee, others with excellent fare, and a few with views for daaaaays. So, you don’t have to pick just one. At least, not if you don’t want to.
When we’re looking for breakfast on the lighter side, we often dead to La Bodega, a café known for its healthy fare. Sure, you can grab a hearty breakfast sandwich – on a fresh-made roll with farmer’s cheese! – but you can also delight in eggs your way, yogurt parfaits, vegetarian quiches, and the local favorite – gallo pinto (rice and beans). The lemon scones and banana bread are fab and the coffee, well, who could say no to a freshly brewed cup of the good stuff?
Sometimes, it takes going abroad to realize that you really miss the taste of home. For all those times, we head to Breakfast Grinds, a Tamarindo mainstay serving American breakfasts with ocean views. And, with a name like Breakfast Grinds, you know the former promises to be tasty: pancake stacks, oodles of eggs, fruit-topped waffles, and other breakfast comforts. And as for the second part of their name? Well, that comes courtesy of the two visible surf breaks – perhaps the very reason you’re fueling up?
Nogui’s is the kind of place where you go for the ambiance and return because the food’s good, too. We’re talking basic stick-to-your-ribs fare, like breakfast croissants, coyote eggs, and really great omelets, with some pinch-hitting from new favorites like avocado toast, a fruit sandwich (banana bread, cream cheese, and fruit), and a lobster scramble. But really, we’re here for the local ingredients and the amazing setting: right on the beach, home to our favorite views.
Home to a creative couple (architect and chef), you know that that Santa Rita Café promises to be something special. And it is, especially for its amazing breakfasts – and air-conditioning, if that’s your jam. (It’s definitely ours, some mornings!) Santa Rita is a small but mighty coffee shop, determined to stand out for its superb specialty coffee, plus a few award-winning – okay okay, we’re handing out the rewards but they’re thatgood! – dishes, including the Local and the Big Bang breakfasts. Their pinto may also be the best in Guanacaste!
If you love the slow lifestyle, like we do, then you’ll appreciate an early-morning at Café Tico. This outdoor café features local favorites and plenty of fresh pastries, but the real magic is in the coffee. We mean, they even have a sign on the wall that asks, Smell the magic brewing? Oh yes, yes we do, Café Tico. Could you please bring a cup (or three) onto the shady patio? Please and thank you, and pura vida.
The Best Restaurants in Tamarindo for Lunch
Some things in life are meant to be shared, including this list of the best Tamarindo restaurants for lunch. Because hey, we want you to have a good time. We want you to eat all the foods. We want you to taste for yourself why Tamarindo is the reigning king of all things seaside gastronomy.
We also want you to eat your fill of Mexican street tacos, fresh-caught calamari, vegetarian tikka masala, and oh-so-juicy burgers. Preferably, with a side of horseshoes and foosball. Because that’s how Tamarindo rolls at lunchtime.
If vacationing by the sea makes you crave the sea – and by that, we’re talking more seafoodthan sea activities – then it’s time to make a lunch pilgrimage to Sprout. An easy choice for one of the best Tamarindo restaurants for lunch, this local favorite sources its seafood from anglers committed to sustainable fishing practices; the chicken is also organic. So, dig in. The calamari is ah-maze-ing, and the sandwiches and salads do thing you never thought a sandwich or salad could do. Plus, it’s right across from the beach – close enough to hear the surf!
Who says you can’t have everything? El Mercadito certainly doesn’t: This new part-food-court-part-foodie-heaven pulls together so many of our favorite fares – several different restaurants and cuisines – we’re tempted to move in. What we love most is that no restaurant competes with any other, so if you’re in the mood for poke, there’s one amazing choice for poke. If vegan treats, French pastries, juicy burgers, or ooey gooey pizza are calling your name – well, there’s one eminently satisfying answer to each of those cravings, too.
Bonus: Your lunch group can all order from different places! They’ll give you a pager, to let you know when your food’s ready, so you can all curb your cravings and meet at the table.
Two words for you: Taco Tuesday.
… We are so tempted to just stop there. I mean, what more do we need in our lives? But, if you’re the kind of lunch-goer who needs more of an enticement, will Mexican-style street tacos, killer beats, ice-cold beer, and tequila for days do the trick? Yeah, we thought it would. We will see you there. Probably on a Tuesday!
If you’re anything like us, you may not realize you’re craving Indian food, but once you cross the threshold of Curry On, it’s on. Their lunch special is truly something special, piling good value onto great cuisine. Order up your favorite pakoras, tikkas, dals, and other favorites. (We know we will). This is also an unofficial vegetarian favorite– spinach curry, several dals, paneer tikka masala, and sooooomany other mouthwatering options! – earning it an easy pick as one of the best Tamarindo restaurants for lunch.
If you like your lunch with a side of fun, then welcome to the Surf Club in Langosta: With a semi-official motto of Come Play!– they have pool tables, ping pong, foosball, darts, horseshoes, corn hole, puzzles, and other nostalgic fun– you know it’s going to be good. What you don’t know is that the food is also great, offering some of our favorite sandwiches, salads, tacos, and sliders in the Tamarindo area. No car? No problem; they often have a free shuttle to Langosta from downtown Tamarindo.
Best Tamarindo Restaurants for Dinner
Dinner is the meal that can go either way: If you have kids in tow, you want a place that’ll get food on the table quickly (and serve up some sandy entertainment while you wait). If you’re more in mind of a romantic evening, then you’re after ambiance, excellent food, and low lighting.
Luckily, our town serves up both in spades – sometimes, in the same place! Yes, you read that right: Our little foodie metropolis can work dinner alchemy, pulling together everything you need and desire into just a few of our favorite Tamarindo restaurants.
Steak lovers, unite! At Patagonia, specifically – at Tamarindo’s best steak and one of our favorite dinner spots. This traditional Argentinian grill is known for its superb service and its absolutely incredible fare: fresh-from-the-Pacific seafood, top-notch steaks, and Argentinean empanadas, inclusive. Also, the sangria is recopada, che!
A low-lit dinner on the beach… yes, that’s the promise of Langosta Beach Club, whose ambiance makes it an easy choice for one of the best Tamarindo restaurants. We love that they offer two separate menus for lunch and dinner – come early, stay all day, and never repeat your menu choices – but what keeps us coming back is the lovely ambiance and excellent sushi, plus steak and tropical fusion fare.
As a bonus, Langosta Beach Club is a bonafide club: Here, you can order a beachfront massage, rent surfboards, hop into a sea kayak, do yoga, and avail yourself of other beachy activities.
What do sunset, happy hour, and great food have in common? El Chiringuito, one of our top dinner choices among Tamarindo restaurants. Located on a quiet slice of beach – a rarity in hopping Tamarindo – this dinner favorite is one of our top places to enjoy the sunset with a side of happy hour: $2 beers and $5 drinks. Of course, you’re also here to dine, so you’ll be happy to know that El Chiringuito offers truly wonderful food and wonderful flavors, for everything from its fresh-caught poke tuna bowl to its kid-friendly chicken fingers (they also pair well with beer).
Our perpetual favorite, Pangas is one of the best restaurants in Tamarindo, not just for its food but for its ambiance: neighboring the estuary, overlooking the Pacific, furnished in driftwood, and home to some of the best sunset views on the Gold Coast. If that weren’t enough, Pangas uses all-natural, local ingredients and sources its seafood from the region’s best anglers. And oh, that seafood! Do your palate a favor and order the seafood platter. Maybe a few times.
Italian is such a prevailing favorite, we had to add it to our list. And, while we’re on the subject of Italian, our heart turns to La Pachanga: With a setting that lends itself both to family dinners and romantic evenings, this is the kind of place you’ll want to linger: Order a glass of wine, whet the palate with an amazing bruschetta, and toast to an incredibly plate of homemade Italian pasta. It doesn’t get much better.
And, there you have it: five of our favorite Tamarindo restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – a flavor for every palate and a setting for every vacationer. If we missed one of your favorite discoveries, let us know in the comments!