Food & Drink, Playa Junquillal Area


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Unless otherwise noted the below restaurants are nearby Las Brisas and in the Playa Junquillal area.



image002Guacamaya Lodge has a range of international cuisine with a specialty in Swiss culinary entrees.  In the Rancho Bar, you can enjoy your favorite cocktail, wine ($4.50) or cool "cerveza" ($2.41).  Your hosts, Bernie and Alice were Swiss-born but are now long time Costa Rican residents. This brother and sister team came for a visit and ended up with families and living here full time.  Recommended, as every year the hospitality and food seems to get better.  My favorite is the fresh Red Snapper.  My young friend Enrique serves up the drinks while practicing his English.  Shop at the only gift shop in Playa Junquillal while you are there.  One trip I asked Alice if my WEB page information about her establishment was OK with her.  Her reply was “It’s nice but I am not first listed!”  And they say the Swiss don’t have a sense of humor.  Isn’t it amazing what a pretty lady can accomplish with two free drinks?   VISA  

(+506) 2658-8431



image004Amigos Bar & Grill - Mitch (on right) and Brad (left) came to Costa Rica initially to surf.  Surfers tend to appreciate good food in a casual atmosphere which could explain the inspiration for this place.  Mitch says, "We are starting with a selection of our favorite foods at good prices and focusing on good service and expanding the menu from there."  We have known these solid guys for some time, best wishes on this new venture.  Update: At our last visit, November 2012, the restaurant had just been sold to ex-waiter Orion & Mitch and wife were there as customers.  BBQ Pulled pork Sandwich $5, Cerveza $2, Vino $4.  Free WIFI.  VISA coming.  4-10PM daily except Wednesday.  Located at the rear of the Tierra Pacifica Business complex. +503-2658-8727



image004Playa Junquillal Eco Lodge, formerly Land Ho at Villa Serena, has been totally remodeled by two very personable couples who have moved here full time from Canadian, kids, dogs and all; Brian & Christine plus Tibor & Elisabeth. One owner was in hotel management for the past 13 years and both guys competed as a team on the competition BBQ circuit. I was pleasantly surprised to find Anna, pictured here with Christine, now working there. A good hire guys! The second-floor open-balcony restaurant overlooks the ocean surf and sunsets. The new ground floor bar area sports a Texas style BBQ pit, go figure. Check the daily specials ($8-$24) for International, Tico and North American dishes.  Happy Hour Drinks are $2 Cerveza (Normally $2.60), a bucket of 6 $10 or 1.79 each, $3.50 (Normally $4.40) Wine, good happy hour prices guys!  WiFi

(506) 2249-9839




image003Hotel Iguanazul has a new Canadian owners fronted by Don Reed.  He and manager Miguel are in the process of refreshing the property.  Start with the daily Happy Hour, where locals and travelers get together to see the amazing sunsets and share their stories.  Fabio will keep the glasses filled! Happy Hour Cerveza $1.54, Wine $5.33  & Nachos $10  VISA  WiFi


 (506) 2658-8124





image006Lola’s is a beach bar and lunch-stand directly on Playa Avellanas and is run by a San Diego, USA transplant.  The owner has quite a menagerie of adopted friendly critters.  Lola, for example, is the only beach basking, ocean swimming pig I have ever seen.  Howler monkeys in the trees are not uncommon.  We recommend Playa Avellanas as a beautiful spot to swim, surf and hang out.  It also makes a good “19th hole” type stop on the way back to Las Brisas after golfing or from another activity in the area.  If you’re lucky Javier, formally of Rudy's, will be your server.  However be aware that it is closed on Mondays and the prices a little steep for Costa Rica.  Beers $3.30, Margaritas $8, Wine $6.00, Pizza $14 - $16 & Nachos $9.60.  Now with a second location Lola’s del Norte on Playa Dante near Hotel Sugar beach.  This one is on a sheltered cove with calmer surf but no pig.


image007Tiki Hut is a brand new restaurant / bar is located beachfront in Marbella.  Nice setting, new and very clean.  It's destined to be a new hang for surfers and others.  Food prices are a little high but it is beachfront after all.  Our friends joked that they wanted to take one of the unique tables home but that slice of tree probably weighed 200lbs at least.  We had a relaxing time and will return. Owner Jeff is a surfer from California and has been in the country for over 10 years.  Cerveza $2.50, Vino $7.30, Hamburger $12.75.  VISA 



image007Pablo Picasso’s motto: Hamburgers as big as your head with all the ketchup you can eat. The Grande burger costs $7.00 but as you can see it is very Grande!  Just outside Playa Negro, it caters to the hungry surfer crowd.  Good food, cold beer, fair prices and you are sure to see or meet someone interesting.  Should Pablo himself be working prepare to be served some laughs with your food and drink.  Hey Pablo, how much for a beer?  “1200 colones, they were much cheaper, but I raised the prices just as you parked.”

Pablo sold this and it’s now closed.

(506) 2652-9158   Cel (506) 8389-5268



image009Cabinas Las Olas Bar y Restaurante in Playa Avellanas is basically a rest stop for the non-budget surfers that frequent the Cabinas.  The complex sits near the road but has a long wooden boardwalk through the mangrove swamp to the beautiful beach.  This boardwalk is currently a point of contention with the Costa Rican government due to a lack of construction permits.  If it’s still there it’s worth the walk.  After a walk one day we spent a few pleasant hours visiting with a vacationing couple from the U.S.



image010Pangas Beach Club as on the right at the mouth of the estuary just as you enter Tamarindo.  It is named for the small boats that ferry people across and offer tours up the estuary.  Located right on the beach it offers real upscale presentation included food at upscale prices (for Costa Rica).  I suggest lunch as it is less crowded.  As a bonus it had draft craft beer, Segus $6. Appetizers $8-24, Entrees $15-36, Imperial $Don’t ask

VISA,  Reservations  (506) 2653-0024






La Puesta del Sol is closed and is now being Remodeled.


image010Hotel Tatanka has a casual, open-air restaurant with a bar that specializes in gourmet pizzas ($13) from a wood fired oven, authentic Italian style meals, as well as typical Costa Rican fare.  Italian owners Giovanni and his father Salvatore is possibly the reason the pasta is also very good, I love the Carbonara. Over the years Giovanni has demonstrated that he has a good heart in the community.  That is also reflected in his Food & Restaurant.  Carbonara ($13.30),  Cerveza ($2.77), Vino ($5.61)  VISA







image011La Vida Buena is a under new management restaurant serving lunch, dinner and soon breakfast.  Pictured are waitress Andrea, owner Willie and pizza tossing expert Alex. We were happy to find good guy Adolfo, priorly at Hotel Iguanazul, now working here.  Even more impressive as this is thin crust for the wood fired pizza oven.  I would categorize this restaurant as international with a Tico twist.  Good beef is hard to find in Costa Rica but they seem to have it here.  Don’t over order as the servings are very large. The beer is cold and reasonable priced ($1.90), wine ($4.80) and typical entries are $7 -$18.  Located two intersections west of Play Negra in Las Pargos.  Closed Thursday.  +503-2652-9082  Free WIFI VISA



image010Bahia de los Piratas is an Italian run beachfront hotel with a restaurant on an isolated and beautiful white sand cove.  Prices are a little high but it seems to be worth it.  Carpaccio de Pescado Fresco $12, recommended. Cerveza $3, Vino $5.  No credit cards, Free WiFi.







image010Los Anomalos Restaurant (the anomaly) is located on the road to Playa Marbella to the south of Playa Junquillal.  A tree house restaurant of sorts in a new complex including camping, a Polynesian gift shop and a skate ramp.  This the a unique vision of two Federicos from Argentina and the chef Gioia from Italy.  The specialties as you may have guessed are fresh pastas ($13) and ravioli’s ($16) with the ever present Imperila Cervesa ($1.80).  I suggest this as a lunch stop on a day trip to Playa Marbella.  Closed and for sale.












image013image015Restaurante Lochito's is an all Costa Rican run establishment in Playa Junquillal.  Local owner’s Numa and Mercedes named the place to honor her father’s memory. I first met Numa when he was turning out great food at former Mary’s place.  It has been a process for them but they finally have their own place open.  In “local speak” they are “solid people”.  As to the food; all bases are covered, daily specials usually include an upscale entrée similar to what he prepared in former jobs, local Tico menu selections and items for Gringo types.  Speaking of Gringo types (Debbie & Leonard pictured to the left) are neighbors that we dine with frequently and 90% of the time they order Hamburguesa’s when available.  Leonard pronounced Numa’s “Best Hamburguesa in Guanacaste” at $5.60. My favorite is the Casado Pescado ($6.50) All menu items, drinks, beer and wine are priced reasonably; Cervasa ($2.22), White Wine ($5.50).  Watch for the special every other Friday BBQ all you can eat night $12.25 p/p. Open 10 AM to 10 PM except closed on Mondays. US$ or Colones only, no-credit cards.  Look for the pictured sign and tell them Grande Ron sent you!




Bar y Restaurante e la Casita Del Marisco is run by Mario Arroyo formally of La Vida Buena.  He has been cooking since he was 13 years old in various places and obviously picked up many skills.  Also he just happens to be the brother of one of our long time Las Brisas employees.  This Restaurant is located beachfront in Playa Hermosa to the North of Playa Coco and just south of Condovac hotel and time shares.  Walk up from the beachside or use the fenced parking at the rear.  Marisco means seafood and that is what they do, international with a Tico twist.  A friend ordered “Jumbo” and I assume inspired by “Gumbo” a Louisiana, USA Cajun specialty. Reasonably priced at $9.50 and the term Jumbo serving size fits. Slightly pricy at $16 the Jumbo Etouffee was large and very good.  There are other than Cajun entrees to choose from also.  Imperial Beers $2.  The view, location and food are worth the drive! 


Tel: +506-2237-6804    WiFi     Visa






Bernardo's (Playa Junquillal Hotel) is the original Costa Rican run establishment of this type in Playa Junquillal and is now run by bartender and Restaurant  Manager Adriana.    After a recent remodeling inspired by the Santa Cruz municipality defining the property line, it no longer has rooms for rent but is an even a nicer bar & restaurant.  It’s a image009good place to meet just before sunset and party with the locals while watching the sunset from the beachfront bar.  I suggest bringing bug repellant although.  Costa Ricans and people from all over the world frequent the bar and not a boring one in the bunch so far.  Hey Capitan Wayne, is that glass ½ full or ½ empty?  Bocas are often served with drinks on weekends.  Bocas, or complementary little snacks are a Costa Rican Bar Tradition.  Adriana tells me ceviche will sometimes be served for “Bocas”, an excellent choice, I’m in!  Lunch, dinner or drinks here is an unpretentious experience here.  For example, Burritos ($6.40) or Quesadillia ($6.40) washed down with a cold Cervezas ($2) or wine ($2.60!).  Colones, US Dollars, Visa or Master Card accepted.


Another one bites the dust.  Due to ongoing concession concerns and with a little “help” from some locals this bar has been leveled.  It will be interesting to see what replaces it!


La Joya de Lagarto - A restaurant on a hill with a panoramic view of the ocean.  Recently reopened with a new owner and with a new theme.  Now it is owned by a local from San Jose offering tasty typico fare with reasonable prices.  In traditional fashion you will be unrushed by the staff, they may even wait till you ask for the check.  Makes a great stop on the way home from the Tiki Hut in Marbella.  Cerveza $2.40, Vino $5.40 & Chicken & Rice $9.00  +503-8636-8568


image015Hotel Sugar Beach - A hotel with a restaurant on a hill with panoramic view of the ocean.  Some kms north of Playa Grande, this makes a good stop on a beach bar hopping day trip.  Combine this with Lola’s del Norte and Bahia de los Piratas.  It’s typico fare upscale with upscale prices.  The wait staff is very attentive.  The menu warns not to feed the critters.  I have become accustom to restaurant dogs but this one features a begging Iguana and blue birds.  Cerveza $2.60, Ceviche $6.00, Shrimp Patacones $8.40 




image015Gina’s Restaurant y La Iguana Sports Bar is just outside of Playa Negro de la Los Pargos.  Gina, formally head waitress at La Vida Buena took over the former Oasis restaurant from French owners Mary & Michel. Our Tica friend Maria works in the kitchen.  With so many influences you get this eclectic place.  A sports bar with 6 big screen TVs and pool table and a state of the art kitchen by international standards.  The lady’s in our party were very impressed by the restaurant and bathroom décor.  We orders 3 different entrees, all well executed with an average cost of $12 each.  Imperials 1200 colones.  We will be going back!  Free WiFi Colones, US Dollars, Visa or Master Card accepted. Closed Sundays. +503-2653-4123  This Restaurant is Currently Closed!







Hotel Playa Negra


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This beach hotel has a large rancho style restaurant and bar over looking a famous surfer’s beach. Think of it as a Tico non-nuclear cooling tower.  The hot air rises and exits at the top, pulling in cooler air at the bottom.  Try a hamburger ($8.80 with fries) while overlooking this famous surf beach. The Cervezas ($2.88) and Wines ($5.57) are cold. The cattle in Costa Rica are free-range and grass-fed.  Although not much good for tender steaks, the locally raised beef makes a flavorful hamburger. Now also included in the choices are some more upscale items such as a Tropical Salad with tuna sashimi (12.50).  But also unscaled are the prices with hamburgers going up 55% in the last few years.  VISA

(506) 2658 – 8034


image017Bar y Restaurant Latino  Just outside of Pargos, which is just North West of Paraíso.  As one local patron, Jeremy, put it this is the locals restaurant for the area.  While we were there Mike, ex-part owner of La Vida Buena, stopped in for a beer which added credence to the claim.  MacDonald Espmoza (pictured with tourists Lynn & Harlene) serves up local favorites with many choices favoring sea food as an ingredient.  Patacones (Plantain Fries with toppings) is what we order regularly and recommend for an appetizer. While there I got my ceviche de Pescado fix.  There were seven of us in our party and everyone seemed to enjoy the meal and the evening. Entrées  around $9, Beer $2.79  & Wine $5.50.  Free WIFI VISA




image009Restaurante Las Tucitas, Rio Seco  Las Tucas was a prior favorite but Mom retired and sold out and the old place was demolished, now her daughter continues the tradition just next door. The restaurant is run strictly as a family affair.  The cooking was done entirely on a custom molded cement wood-fired stove.  Every pot had a hole to fit in.  We had 4 very good meals of chicken or smoked pork and 7 cervezas (@ $2.10) which came to a total of about $53 or about $12 per person.  Watch for the signs on the right 3km outside of Paraíso, on the road to Santa Cruz, near the right turn to Play Nosara and points south.  (Please keep this place our top secret!) 



image016Bar Resturante Pizzeria Rapala in the building formally housing Chayita’s Just outside of Paraíso, on the road to Santa Cruz.  They offer the best Pizza deal nearby Playa Junquillal, Supreme Large for $12.75.  Beer $1.45 and a very large glass of white wine $4.50.  This keeps us happy.  The menu also lists typico food but Pizza is the star here.  It’s where the locals eat.  One trip we ate there three times including taking our Caretaker and his family there.  Closed on Tuesdays. This restaurant is now open only as a bar.



image018Bar Resturante Chayito formally Chayita’s just outside of Paraíso, now further up on the road to Santa Cruz.   A new authentic Tico Soda featuring typico food run by Ovidio & family.  Try a Casado (Married Man) which consists of a meat of choice, salad, beans, rice and plaintains a great deal at $5.45. The Cervezas ($1.45) are cold and go well with Ceviche available in boca (small $.89) or large sizes ($5.35).  One of the best Ceviche’s around!  Last time there was a 2 Imperials for 1400 special ($1.20 each), best price around!  This restaurant is reopened with the addition of a pulperίa (small Store), not yet reviewed.





image010The Hibiscus has friendly German owner, Rainer, who offers a restaurant specializing in fresh seafood and German fare served with European class.  Meals are custom prepared, so call a day in advance for a reservation or stop by and plan the menu with him.  Some German dishes require more preparation and hence more than one day advance notice.  We took a party of 13 which is about the largest crowed he likes to serve.  The multi-coursed dinner set us back about $20 a couple plus drinks.   Sadly, Rainer has passed away.  The Hibiscus has just been reopened by Chris. 

VISA  (506) 2658-8437



GROCERIES/ SUPPLIES (and restaurants for when you shop)

Unlike other tropical destinations, groceries are very affordable on the whole.  Fruit in season is incredibly low cost.  But try to buy Costa Rican brands to avoid imported goods, which can cost more than in the exporting nations.  We tend to buy supplies for breakfasts, some lunches and dinners.  Hard to believe, but with wise shopping, eating at home can cost even less than the already low dining out costs.  On your way to Las Brisas it might be wise to stop for at least staples but keep in mind that many stores are closed on Sunday.


image023The Mini Super Junquillal is a welcome addition to our community.  They have just moved from a small store to a larger space in Tierra Pacifica.  It has a wide variety of items, even olive oil, which is a rare find in rural Costa Rica.  I guess this is not surprising as the Owner, Loris, is Italian.  Loris tells me they are going to keep the prices competitive with the stores in Santa Cruz.  As one Las Brisas owner puts it, “It is great.  Prices are reasonable.  We have found that we do not need to go into Santa Cruz as often with this new store here.  They also carry breads from the German bakery.”  So shop “downtown” Playa Junquillal and save the drive.  News flash: The store has been taken over by Diego, Loris former silent partner in a sudden strange way.  Loris was running Congo Loco listed on this page but sadly has passed away, Rest In Peace friend.


Christian Perez the fish guy usually stop by Las Brisas in their truck late Fridays.  Tell fellow Las Brisas guests and owners to inform you when they arrive.  We got about a kilo of Swordfish for about $14.00.  Ask to see what they have, so you can pick the freshest.  Very little English spoken.  Bring a flashlight and calculator. (506) 8860-9953


Paraíso Pulperias are 10 minutes from Playa Junquillal.  Watch out or you may pay the special “Gringo” prices (higher).


SuprCompro, Veintisiete de Abril is small store but part of a chain featuring lower prices as in Santa Cruz but nearer to Playa Junquillal.  Newly expanded for a larger meat & produce department and with a very friendly English speaking and helpful manager.  Recommended!


Santa Cruz Outdoor Farmer’s Market on the main Square.


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Every Saturday morning the local farmers erect stands and sell their produce and wares and almost everyone comes to shop.  This is a better place to buy fruits and produce than in the stores.  Bring a calculator so the locals can type in the prices for you, assuming that you need help with your Spanish numbers.  Shopping here is part of the vacation adventure as you stock up on food.  Don’t miss this one!   Bring you camera but try to not look like too much of a tourist while you shop.  Colones in small denominations work the best.


image021Congo Loco Mini Super Licorereia, Lagunillia de Santa Cruz Crazy Monkey liquor store is it?  Next trip I’ll have to ask the owner Pablo whom it was named after.  His customers maybe?  Loris, formally of Mini Super Junquillal is now running the place. On the road from Santa Cruz to Pariso watch for the store on the left.  It’s a good place to stock up on the way to Las Brisas.  At last visit they have added a selection of groceries and fresh produce to the normal Licorereia fare.  Imperial ($2.74/Liter)  +(506 ) 2680-2797


The Beers of Costa Rica


Maxi Pali, Santa Cruz (grocery store plus) If it seems like a Walmart with an emphasis on groceries, that is because the Chain is owned by them.  Groceries, Beer, Toasters   It’s on the right just as you approach town.


MegaSuperCompro, Santa Cruz (grocery store) If you can’t find something in Maxi Pali try walking next door. For example I like the Drink Juice concentrate they have in the cooler.


image023SuprCompro, Santa Cruz (grocery store) in a new and expanded building is located in the south eastern part of town near the bus stop.  We seem to end up shopping here frequently.  It seems to have reasonable prices but not a wide range of exotic items.  Guillermo, the very tall Tico and ex Floridian manager gives an extra special welcome and help to Gringos.  A large fenced in parking lot makes shopping here convenient.  VISA



SuprCompro, Veintisiete de Abril (grocery store) A smaller store than above and more “Tico” but at ½ the distance to Santa Cruz a winner.  We shop here often.


Super Mercado, Santa Cruz (grocery store) center of town on the main street VISA


KION, Santa Cruz (grocery store) center of town on the main street VISA


Pali, Santa Cruz (warehouse style grocery store) north central part of town.  The parking area and store are enclosed by a chain-linked fence.


The Santa Cruz Country Market



Look for the building 1/2 block north of the NW corner of the park where the Saturday market is held.    This place has a small central market feel.  It has a wider selection of good fresh produce than the Santa Cruz grocery stores and at lower prices if you miss the Saturday market. 


image017Motel, Bar, Restaurant El Marriono, Santa Cruz is a good spot for an affordable, tipico lunch break in a clean, modern, open-air restaurant.  We like to relax and eat lunch here after a morning of shopping in Santa Cruz. The WIFI is free, open and about 500Kbps.  Bring your Spanish to English dictionary as the menus and service staff might speak Spanish exclusively.  Try the Casado – Gallo Pinto (rice & beans), cabbage  salad, plantain and meat of choice ($7.50) or a traditional ceviche (lime juice marinated seafood) or hearts of palm (verde) salad ($6).  Located in the central western part of town.  Colones, US$ & Visa are OK. (506) 2680-2509



Bar y Restaurante la Yunta Santa Cruz A nice place to stop for lunch when shopping Santa Cruz.  On the plaza in the northwest of town where the temporary bull ring is constructed.  Ceviche Mixto ($3.70), Patacones (Fried Plantain Chips $2.96), Cervesa $1.58 Currently Closed.


image033Restaurant La Venus de Diria, Santa Cruz

This Tipico restaurant is located two blocks into town from the traffic light on the right.  We were served lunch by a very busy and friendly waiter.  I asked if he was the owner, he said with a laugh, “no, if it was my restaurant I would have two more waiters and another cook, my brother owns this”.  I think they were busy because the food was good & with LARGE portions, no need for dinner tonight!  Most of the clients were locals which is always a good sign.  Free WiFi, just ask for the password.  The ceviche was good and served with a cilantro / jalapeno sauce on the side, very good and unique.  Casados $8.00, Beers $2.50


Bar Restaurant Cacique Marino, Santa Cruz This Tipico restaurant specializes in seafood but has standard Tico menu items also.  Locals eat here which is a good sign. It is located on the right a few kilometers down the road that runs between Santa Cruz and Liberia. Cevesa $2. Open WiFi, VISA



Nicoya downtown with many shops is minutes down the road from Santa Cruz on the route to San Jose.



Liberia downtown is about 10 minutes from the Liberian International airport and 1 hour and 50 minutes away from Playa Junquillal. It’s possible pick up supplies after landing but before heading to Playa Junquillal.


Perimercado Liberia.  In the Mall on the right just before the overpass.  This is a fairly large store almost as well stocked with hard to find Gringo items as the Auto Mercado in Tamarindo.


Super Compro, Plaza 25 DE Julio, Liberia.  This market has a slightly better selection of groceries than those in Santa Cruz.  Park right in front.  Beware of the kids hustling for a $1 to push your cart 12 feet.  Don’t encourage this behavior or Costa Rica will turn into the dreaded Jamaica.  VISA


Resturant Café Europa The new owner has transformed this Bar / Restaurant / Beer Garden into perhaps the best food option near the Airport, it’s on the right before you get there. Most are very expensive, bad or both, with Players inside the Terminal being the worst example.  Beer $2.34 and Entrees are as reasonable. The food we ordered was good but next time we try the Wood fired oven Pizza because it looked interesting as it passed our table.  VISA



Visiting Playa Tamarindo for fun or trinket shopping?  You can pick up basic supplies at the Super Mercado Langosta near the Barceló Playa Langosta Resort.  Or for a wide selection of hard to find “Gringo” items try the Auto Mercado on the left on the way into town. The prices are higher here however.  VISA


image038Fish and Cheeses, Playa Langosta next to Tamarindo The store and owner, Walter Vezzoli, seems sufficiently eclectic to make this WEB site.  Originally from Northern Italy he has lived in Costa Rica for many years.  Wine, Cheeses, Fresh and frozen Meats & Seafood. Mussels and heads on Prawns caught my eye. There are things in stock that I have never seen in Costa Rica before. Tuna at $18 US per kilo we thought was pretty reasonable especially as it was very hard to find period at that time.  If you like to cook, like me, and ingredient there might inspire a menu.  +506-4700-6947  VISA






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