A Foodie's Guide To Tamarindo

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Tamarindo A Beach Town With Laid Back Vibes And A Serious Foodie Scene

Endless sunshine, long white shores with some rocky patches, sunsets that will sweep you off your feet. Foreigners and locals alike make the essence of the cool laid back beach town of Tamarindo. Tamarindo’s perennial status as Costa Rica’s top surf destination draws a fascinating blend of local and foreign cultures. There is no denying that this pint-size cosmopolitan beach town offers so much. You’ll expect to find endless sunbathing, great eateries, and always a wave to catch somewhere.

TAMARINDO

Although the town is not as crowded as other Pacific Coast beaches like Jaco, tourists and expats make their presence abundantly known. You’ll find more signs in English than in Spanish, and more international restaurants than sodas. Don’t let this discourage you from visiting. This eclectic blend of tico and foreign vibes is what makes Tamarindo a cool place.

With its foreign community, you’ll expect to find down right good food and an amazing farmer’s market. There are no amazing deals in Tamarindo, though, it is a great place to splurge on inventive fusion eateries. This slice of paradise almost felt like home.

There are its imperfections, and plenty of them, which make it that much more authentic and likable. It's humble at its core. Tamarindo's rugged beauty is a special place that even it's luster hasn't worn off with the onslaught of tourists. It is no wonder that this beach town remains a gem.

Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo

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Tamarindo Shortlist

Start with the Tamarindo Feria (Farmer’s Market) on Saturday morning, from 8am - 1pm, for fresh, organic veggies and fruits, superfoods, gluten-free baked goods, natural soaps, oils and lotions, and a fun hippie beach vibe. Fresh fish, caught in the waters of Costa Rica’s Pacific Ocean, is available at good prices. Try a cup of a cool ceviche with hot sauce from the fish guy. A walk through this farmers market, you’ll quickly see that this market is just like any other American farmers market - minimal produce vendors and lots of handcrafted, artisan items, and food. It reminds me a lot of home. A lot like the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco. One can find baked goods including breads, sweets and everything in between at a number of tables throughout the market. One them even offers gluten-free baked goods.

As you walk through town, you’ll come across plenty of restaurants. As a gluten intolerant traveller, Tamarindo offered a variety of places that offered naturally gluten-free options, as well as gluten-free specific places. Grab a bite to eat or stock up on artesian fare or Kombucha at La Bodega. I guarantee you’ll have the best the best and freshest organic sandwiches and salads here.

Grab a cup of coffee at Tico Cafe, which also serves up some delicious pastries and bites. They ever offer gluten-free options. Sprout for fresh, organic salads and smoothies infused in the most delicious of combinations.

Cafe Princessa for a cappuccino and cinnamon roll. Nogui’s for sunset, ceviche and pie. Green Papaya for a fresh Green Papaya Salad or an Ahi Tuna Salad. Also try the Coco Loco desert. It’s amazing. Patagonia Argentinian Grill & Restaurant for Camarones a la Provenzal, Ensalada del Camp and a Skirt Steak washed down with a Malbec or Sangria. If you aren’t a meat eater, don’t worry the offer a few vegetarian dishes and great salads. Or head down to their sister restaurant, Patagonia del Mar for fresh seafood dishes and a notable wine list. The Seafood Skillet is darn good. Bambo for great sushi. Which is owned by the same folks over at Patagonia and Patagonia Del Mar. Pangas for a beautiful sunset dinner. Sprout for fresh, delicious salad or sandwich, and made to order smoothies. It's a little out of town, but it is worth the trek. Grab a brew and enjoy the beach at Witch’s Rock. Shrimp Hole for simple yet amazing shrimp and rice dishes. Falafel Bar for kabobs with a few Mediterranean sides.LongBoards BBQ for smoked wings. Pizzeria La Baula for thin crust pizza. Seasons by Shlomy for one of the best meals you’ll have in Tamarindo. Langosta Beach Club for great ambiance and music along the beach. Langosta is a bit pricey for Costa Rica standards but comparable to a typical big-city restaurant in the States. El Chilito for a Chipotle style dining experience and the only good Mexican restaurant. All other taco spots are a disappointment. Wild Panda for drinks. Cafe Santa Rita for smoothies and coffee. LIVE Sushi for great sushi.

Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo

If you're on the hunt for authentic Costa Rican cuisine, try Doña Rosa along the main road. Doña Rosa has been serving the most traditional Costa Rican grub out of the back of her station wagon on the streets of Tamarindo for ten years. Doña Rosa and her daughter make the food every morning in Cartegena, about a half hour drive from Tamarindo. She serves the typical casado, a platter with arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), black beans, fried plantains, and other traditional fare for only 2,000 colones, or $2 USD. This is by far the most food we’ve been served in Tamarindo for the least amount of money. Still looking for local flavor? Head to FT’s Tamarindo Restaurant for simple local food. Soda El Buen Comer for delicious casado and watermelon drink.

Along the beach, you’ll see a variety of different types of vendors selling things like empanadas, churros, soft, delicate cookies called alfajores, beer, soda, water, amongst other things. The Juice Box is located on the beach closest to the estuary by Witches Rock. The hipster-cool stand carries fresh juices like coconut water, carrot juice, and watermelon juice. The Mango Guy sells fresh green mango on a cup, what you can season with lemon, salt, pepper or hot sauce. The Ceviche Guy sells a mean ceviche along the beach.

Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo

Places like Sno Shack, Mango Verde Smoothie Shop, and Mandarina for fresh fruit batidos (smoothies) that are made to order. The Sno Shack, in particular, makes a really good green smoothie that includes kale, spinach, basil and pineapple. Los Angeles style parmesan hard shell tacos from Eat My Taco. Down the road from Witches Rock is a lady that sells kebobs that she bbq’s fresh. Take you pick between beef or chicken. Keep an eye out the Pipa Guy selling pipa fira (cold coconut water). Walking the Tamarindo streets every day with his blue cooler filled with coconuts, the Pipa Guy attracts customers with his megaphonic voice that traverses the entire town. If you’ve never drunk the water straight from a fresh coconut, then you are in for a pleasantly delicious surprise.

Addy's Famous Cuban Subs for a Cuba Libre after a night out. Stop at the open food court area across from Plaza Conchal and great a smoothie at Pura Vida Tropical Juice Bar; Asian Fusion Bistro for sushi; La Princesa Cafe for coffee or a David’s Chai. If you have a sweet tooth, try the cheesecake. There are other places with in this small food court worth checking out. Just a few store fronts over, next to Mandarina’s is Jazz's Tamarindo for crepes.

Old West Meets Costa Rica at Black Stallion Surf Cafe & Saloon
Old West Meets Costa Rica at Black Stallion Surf Cafe & Saloon
IMG_6Old West Meets Costa Rica at Black Stallion Surf Cafe & Saloon293

Things To Do

The Black Stallion Surf Cafe and Saloon is where the Wild West meets Costa Rica. This eco-park is a short 10-minute drive outside of Tamarindo. Ziplining, horseback riding and a Costa Rican BBQ is what you'll experience here. Marlin Del Rey for a fun afternoon of boozing, snorkeling and sunset chasing. Snuba for an under-the-sea adventure mixed between snorkeling and scuba diving. Rent a bike from Blue Trailz and cruise around town. Catch a wave or take a lesson with one of the many surf shops along the main road. Get balanced with a Friday Sunset Yoga class at Ser Om. Catch a sunset, especially at low-tide, they tend to be pretty spectacular. Take the Avellanas Express to Lola's at Playa Avellana for a day of relaxing.

The nightlife in Tamarindo is happening. The uber trendy Cala Luna on Friday nights. Love champaign? You'll especially love ladies night free champs. Tuesday and Saturday nights at El Garito for EDM. Monkey Bar is great on Friday's, too. They have a live band and a DJ playing, so you are able to choose which side of the party you wish to be on. Aqua a more intense night club experience. A great place to be on Friday or Saturday and there's even a pole on stage. El Pescador for happy hour, and dancing on the beach on Saturday nights. Many love Pasatiempo on Wednesday nights. To be honest... This was not up my alley of "fun." It's more Tamarindo expats reliving their glory years, jamming out to classics. If this is your type of thing, I'm sure you'll have an awesome time.

If shopping is your thing, Buena Nena and Dolores Shop for cute dresses and rompers. The clothing here reminds me much of Coachella wear. Trendy, boho and a lot of fun. Soaps and lotions from Alegria. Books and Samba To The Sea postcards and notecards at Jamie Pelligro Books. There are a few bikini shops with cheeky bikini styles.

Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo
Travel Guide: Tamarindo

More On Tamarindo

Travel Guide: Tamarindo Street Food Best of Tamarindo: Health Foods That Make You Feel Good (and Where To Find Them) 5 Things I Learned at the Cala Luna Boutique Hotel Yoga Retreat Old West Meets Costa Rica at Black Stallion Surf Cafe & Saloon 7 Things To Love About TamarindoHow To Travel To Costa Rica With Your Dog

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Insiders Guide to Costa Rica's Boho Beach Town of Santa Teresa

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Bright sun, gleaming sands, crystal-clear waters make the perfect backdrop for the boho beach town of Santa Teresa. This place is paradise with a great international community that reflects on it's restaurants. Pura Vida (pure life) is the true mantra and lifestyle of this shabby yet charming town. I can see why so many flock here and never leave. The town of Santa Teresa on the Pacific side of Costa Rica has stolen a piece of my heart in an odd and humbling way. There is something about this surf town clustered around a dusty semi-paved road that feels right. Perhaps it is the simplistic way of life, and it’s low key, unpretentiousness. There are no flashy cars or designer duds. There is that feeling anonymity.

I love the international vibe of the people who have settled there – Argentinians, Italians, Israelis, French and Canadians who seem to be following and living their art and passion. There is down right good food, stunning yoga decks, a great farmer’s market, and always a wave to catch somewhere. There are it’s imperfections, plenty of them, which make it that much more authentic and likable. It is a real town. It’s not a bubble; its vibe and counter culture is very much like Burning Man and other places that have moved me.

The small towns that lie next to each other - Mal Pais, Santa Teresa, and Hermosa - all harmoniously play off one another. Whatever you are in the mood for you can find within minutes. The rustic charm and craggy rock pools of Mal Pais, the relative bustle of Santa Teresa with its shops and restaurants, or the quiet, tranquil beauty of Hermosa.

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Santa Teresa’s Shortlist On Where To Eat

The Farmer’s Market on Saturday afternoon for fresh veggies, dream catchers, gluten-free crackers and a fun hippie beach vibe. Product C for the freshest fish in town and awesome lunch. You have to try the fish tacos and ceviche; it’s made with love. Green World Store for fresh fruits and vegetables, including locally grown and organic produce. Also available is a good variety of natural pantry staples such as coffees, honey, nuts, and jams.

As you walk through town, you’ll come across plenty of restaurants. As a gluten intolerant traveller, Santa Teresa offered a variety of places that offered naturally gluten-free options, as well as gluten-free specific places. Chicken Joes for some life changing Peruvian ceviche and the most amazing and flavorful rotisserie style chicken you'll ever have. (I didn’t try the chicken as I don’t eat meat aside from fish.) Koji‘s for incredible sushi and a bit of a scene. If you’re lucky, while you are there the power will go out in town, and you can eat your entire meal by candlelight. Brisas del Mar for a beautiful sunset dinner. Zwart Cafe for delicious fresh food, great people watching, an up close look at Canadian artist Margriet Zwart's studio. You’ll feel like picking up a paint brush releasing your creative energies.

For the gluten-free traveller in Santa Teresa… Olam for fresh, organic salads and juices. If you’re here for breakfast, try the gluten-free pancakes. Marianne, the French bakery, for coconut macaroons. Kasava for gluten-free bread and bagels. Chop It - Holy Cow Burger for delicious burgers, hand-cut fries, salads and smoothies all made with integrity. They also offer a variety of gluten-free options.

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What To Do + Where To Stay

There is plenty to do in Santa Teresa like The Healing Cuisine for a cleanse or cooking class with Joanne focused on eating habits that promote health and sustainability for our planet. Stay at the super chill Otro Lado Lodge to stay and/or to do some beautiful spiritual yoga with on a beautiful deck and then have lunch afterwards. Or rent Milarepa for a quiet vibe with friends.Florblanca Pilates for finding balance and harmony. Pranamar for yoga just steps off the sand. Surf everywhere from Playa Carmen to Santa Teresa to Hermosa. Rent a bike from 360 Surf Shop and ride down to Hermosa for solitude on your very own secluded slice of paradise. Or ride to the end of Mal Pais for a long swim in the calm waters and buy fresh fish when it comes off the fishing boats in the late afternoon. Head to Kika for live music Tuesday and Thursday nights and Rocamar for a lovely sunset vibe on Sundays.

Where To Shop

Ladies, you have to buy one of the locally made surf bikini’s Tica Surf they look amazing and actually manage to stay on as you get tumbled through the ocean. Onda Verde for an eclectic cute collection of clothes, bags, jewellery hand-made locally. Camisado Vintage for vintage. This amazing little vintage shop carries the best in vintage beachwear and is owned and operated by our long time friend and Canadian ex-pat Staysail Shed. Bean & Bejuco where you will only find products with the highest quality ingredients from hand soaps, Burts Bees beauty care, Coconut & Argan Oils and raw snacks. Organic, eco-conscious, ethical… these are just a few words used to describe the various items stocked on the shelves.

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram & bloglovin‘.