La Fortuna is a glut with restaurant options, even if you had the desire and budget to sample them all, it would take a long time just to eat at each of them once, let alone enough times to really make an evaluation of the foods they have to offer. TripAdvisor is great for crowd-sourcing this kind of information, so I won’t get into too much detail on many restaurants.
However, while TripAdvisor does provide cost estimates on food, I wanted to give some advice about places that provide quality food, at prices that aren’t marked way up for tourists. I also like to recommend restaurants that I know the owners are good people. There are one or two restaurants I know of in town that are highly rated on TripAdvisor, but the owners are, how can I put it politely….jerks.
Below are my recommendations for places that have good food and good value for what you get. The price range on the food options vary, but all of the restaurants I recommend provide what I feel is good quality and portions for what you pay.
(Check at the end of this post for a map and directions to each of my recommendations.)
I firmly believe that a key to a successful restaurant is an attentive, concerned owner. In this regards Café Mediterráneo is top notch. When the restaurant was first opening, my wife was passing by doing some volunteer work with some friends; the owner asked them to come in and try a whole sampling of their desserts because he wanted feedback. That policy continues, the owner is usually there, wanting genuine feedback on the food. Not just superficially asking, but actually having made changes based off feedback we’ve given him.
And following with the friendly owner theme, I think good deeds shouldn’t go unnoticed. When we were getting married we picked up pizzas from here one night after the rehearsal and he gave us a very generous discount as a wedding gift, despite the fact that we hadn’t been able to eat there much because of budgeting for a wedding.
I will say that it is hard to get a quality pizza in this country, especially because I’m picky about my pizza. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, one time in the US I ate at 6 different pizza joints in a week, so I know pizza. That said, this restaurant makes good brick oven pizza. I took a New Yorker there who refused to believe that there could be good pizza outside of NY and even he had to admit that he found it very tasty.
One house specialty is their Alfredo pizza made with Alfredo sauce instead of tomatoes. While I usually would recommend a nice cold beer with pizza, get their Basil Lemonade instead. I’ve tried for months to match the flavor of their Basil Lemonade…I’m getting close, but their’s is quality stuff.
Rain Forest Café & Restaurant
There are two coffee shops in La Fortuna of note. If you just want coffee, either Rain Forest Café & Restaurant or My Coffee (located in front of the park) will serve you well. However, if you also want a bite to eat, hands down Rain Forest is my suggestion. They have a varied menu from the typical coffee shop pastries (and some very delicious cakes), American foods, and typical Costa Rican food as well.
If you’re looking for something “local” but not really feeling like a whole plate of food, they have some awesome sandwiches for under $2. They’re listed on the menu as “prensadas”. My personal favorite is the pulled pork with cheese sandwich. Ask them to add avocado and you might even call it a healthy option (or I just have very low standards for healthy food). Their nachos are also very tasty as well, and you can get them with the same pulled pork they use in the prensada.
Personally I am not a coffee drinker, but despite my distaste for coffee, their chilled drinks are delicious (even with espresso in them). From the unfortunately translated Propio Placer (listed on the English menu as Self-Pleasure) to the jungle inspired Mono Loco (Crazy Monkey) there isn’t really a drink on their list that I wouldn’t recommend. Also my coffee loving wife and father both tell me they have top notch coffee, unlike the low grade stuff you’ll get in the local bakeries.
Chifa La Familia Feliz
Chifa La Familia Feliz is a mix between a restaurant and local’s place. I remember eating there when it just opened, and now it’s the #1 place on Trip Advisor. The owner/chef is a very friendly Tico from San José who does food called chifa. Chifa is a Peruvian-Chinese fusion that is popular in Peru. The food is good and reasonably priced. He recently moved to a location in town much closer to the park which makes it very easy to get to as well.
This is another example of a friendly, attentive owner. One sweltering day I was walking home and passed by the restaurant. He saw I was sweating like crazy and even though I was on the other side of the street with headphones in he got my attention and invited me over just to give me some of his house specialty fruit drink (a Peruvian Hibiscus drink) and to chat.
La Fortuna Pub
For a more in-depth look at the La Fortuna Pub and craft beer in Costa Rica click here. The La Fortuna Pub opened in October 2016 with the vision of providing Craft Beer and pub food in La Fortuna, something that until now has been unavailable. They provide beer on tap from the Lake Arenal Brewery and are in the process (as of this writing) of making their own beer as well. Their food is tasty and reasonable priced.
Our restaurant recommendations: