La Fortuna, Costa Rica is known for its beautiful volcano and its many adventure activities. It also has SOO MANY delicious foods and restaurants – we ate veerrrry well during our time in La Fortuna! This article breaks down where to eat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, including the best restaurants in La Fortuna, types of foods to try, and general info about dining out.
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What to Eat in La Fortuna: Foods You Have to Try
Knowing what to eat is as important as knowing where to eat in La Fortuna – these are the foods and dishes that we ate and loved and should definitely be on your to-eat list!
You will definitely know this word by the end of your trip because batidos are everywhere! I loovvveeeed all the batidos we drank in Costa Rica! The fresh and juicy tropical fruit makes the smoothies absolutely incredible.
I ordered one at every restaurant we went to and don’t regret that choice one bit. You can usually order it made with either milk or water, but… for sure get it with milk. It’s so much better!
Some of the fruits we saw and tried were mango, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple (so juicy!), watermelon, guanabana. The amazing selection of fresh, tropical fruits was refreshing and delicious and the price was generally very reasonable!
A casado isn’t a specific type of food per se, but rather the name for a plate of food that includes rice, beans, plantains, a salad, and some type of meat. Every casado we had was delicious.
Picadillo de Papa
“Potato hash” – this reminded me of a potato stuffing and was my favorite part of the casados. In the casado picture above, the picadillo de papa is in the 10 o’clock/11 o’clock position!
This was served at breakfast one morning, was more savory than sweet, and while it looked like slop, was incredibly delicious. Don’t be put off by the appearance; if you have a chance to try it, definitely do!
I didn’t actually even know what I was ordering when I ordered the patacones, but I’m so glad I did because this was one of my top favorite things I ate in Costa Rica. Patacones are fried plantain chips and were served with guacamole, beans, and salsa.
This rice and beans dish is typically served at breakfast. It was very flavorful! I actually really liked mixing it with my eggs and topping it with…
Salsa Lizano is a uniquely Costa Rican condiment. It is widely served at breakfast and every one of us put it on our breakfast foods each morning. It’s not chunky, but rather it is very smooth and potently flavorful.
A few drops go a long way. It was so good and unique, we brought back little bottles of it as souvenirs! (A 4 oz bottle is about $1 at the grocery store)
Where to Eat in La Fortuna: The Best Restaurants
Don’t miss the patacones appetizer and the smoothies at La Parada – the papaya smoothie I got was one of the best smoothies I had in Costa Rica. I also got the fajitas, which were top notch.
Alfa Venezeulan Food Truck
You can’t beat the prices and the quality of the food you’ll receive at this food truck.
The arepas, a soft english muffin type bread made of corn flour sliced and stuffed with food, and empanadas were super tasty, warm, and STUFFED. The plantain and queso empanada sounds weird, but was really amazing. The arepas were impressive with how much delicious tender meat was overflowing the bread.
The atmosphere was also really sweet. They had an adjoining open-air eating area set aside surrounded by plants and lights. The truck and eating area were directly in front of the owner’s home, which had a nice feel.
La Cava Pizza a La Leña
The pizzas at La Cava Pizza were really thin crust and really flavorful, but the stars of the meal were the two appetizers we ordered: the mushroom dip, and these Venezuelan chorizo tacos.
Frutas Y Verduras Hnos Lazo
This fruit and vegetable stand had THE BEST smoothies! They were so fresh and creamy and flavorful and cheap (~$1.67) My personal favorite was the mango pineapple, but we also loved the guava pineapple as well. Definitely get it with milk. We came back here almost every day, I loved it so much.
It’s an unassuming little place, but was maybe my favorite thing in La Fortuna!
Las Palmas Restaurant
The absolutely gorgeous resort we stayed at had an on-site restaurant – Las Palmas – and their food was incredibly delicious. For dinner, we really enjoyed the casado, the fajitas, and the creamy pasta bowl.
But breakfast, oooooh breakfast. The breakfast buffet was a dream! There was a whole lineup of hot foods, like gallo pinto, plaintain hash, eggs + sausages, and other dishes that rotated daily, PLUS a lineup of fresh fruits, PLUS a lineup of savory and sweet breads, PLUS juices. I looked forward to that breakfast every day!
If you’re into a filling and tasty breakfast, you’ll love staying here!
Soda La Hormiga
When considering where to eat in La Fortuna, you cannot miss eating at a soda – a family run, “fast food” – type restaurant. Sodas are the absolute cheapest places to eat, and they have some delicious food.
We ate at Soda La Hormiga for lunch one day (they are only open for lunch and close at 4pm). I got a burrito and a delicious batidos for under $5. Everyone’s food was very delicious and inexpensive – we were impressed!
Lunch at Lands in Love with Arenal Canopy Tour
This lunch was included in the price of our Adventure Tour with Arenal Canopy Tours and was provided at the Lands in Love Hotel. It’s pretty far out of La Fortuna (it took us an hour to get up there), so I mention this only if you are considering the same adventure tour package.
The lunch was absolutely delicious and very well-prepared. We were given a casado which included picadillo de papa – one of my favorites!
Chocolate Tour with Don Olivo
This tour may be the most unique place on this list of where to eat in La Fortuna, but it’s a delicious feast!
It is marketed as a chocolate tour, but you get to try all sorts of interesting tropical fruits as well. Come hungry because you will get stuffed!
This is a family run farm grown just for tours and teaching tourists, but you get a really intimate, authentic-feeling experience! The son gave the whole tour and the dad freshly cut the fruit and passed it out during the tour.
Other family members were there to sell handmade goods and freshly made cocoa powder from their farm.
You try the most fresh, delicious fruits such as mango, guanabana, pineapple, apple bananas, starfruit, papayas, and fresh squeezed oranges. You also get to try cocoa beans in all stages and squeezed sugar cane juice, and can make your own chocolate from the cocoa beans you’ve just pressed.
In addition, you get to see really unique things and animals: a really weird caterpillar/slug, hummingbird babies, a large iguana, a tattoo plant, and pink, non-edible bananas.
General Information about Eating Out in Costa Rica
Tip 10% of your meal charge. Double check the bill – sometimes the 10% is already included in the charge, and sometimes it isn’t. If it’s not already included, you will need to pay the tip in cash – there’s not a way to add it in like in the United States.
I would say that food was slightly less expensive than the United States – although it depended a lot on where you ate in La Fortuna!
We got delicious fresh smoothies for $1.50, and a burrito for $3, but also spent $20 on dinner one night. Most entrees I bought were around $10, and my dinner bills usually came out to between $15-20 (that included the entrée, smoothie, tax, and tip). Read more about our trip costs in my Costa Rica budget post here.
We had read before we went that you can’t drink the water in Costa Rica, unless you are at a big resort (and even then, confirm that the water is purified). However, we asked at a few places if the water was purified and were told either yes, it was, or that the water in the whole region is purified.
We still only drank tap water at restaurants a few times – but later realized that we were drinking smoothies that they had put tap water into *shrug*. Our MO was to drink bottled water.
Okay you don’t really want to eat at Walmart, ha! But I mention it here because it’s the best place to stop and stock up on water bottles, sunscreen, and bug spray. Water was about $5 for a case, and $10 for a can of sunscreen or bug spray.
As an aside, Walmart in Costa Rica is fancy. There were security guards out and the workers inside were dressed up like perfume salespeople in Dillard’s. Definitely a different vibe than in the US!
All restaurants in La Fortuna (and in any spot we saw in Costa Rica) are open-air. Meaning, there is a roof, but no windows or walls. We actually loved this! The restaurants were all very pleasant and it added to the ambiance of the area to have the bustle of restaurants open to the street.
Getting Your Check
You will need to ask your waiter/waitress specifically for your check when you want to go – they don’t want to rush you out and so won’t bring it until you ask for it.
How to Pay
The currency in Costa Rica is the colon (plural is colones). The current exchange rate is about 670 colones to $1. We found it easiest to figure prices by figuring 6000 colones is equal to $10, so 12,000 colones was $20, etc.
Most places (even small, independent shops or restaurants) took credit cards (Visa or Mastercard, not American Express or Discover) so I paid almost exclusively with my card. You can always pay with colones, of course, but everyone also takes the US dollar in cash as well. If you pay in cash dollars, you will usually get colones in change!
Do note that the price they give you in dollars is not as good as the price in colones, but it is helpful to have the option to pay in dollars.
When paying with a credit card, always ask them to run the bill in colones, not dollars. Your credit card will automatically make the conversion when it bills you, but you will get a better exchange rate that way.
Funny story about this: Our first night in Costa Rica, my parents’ bill for dinner came to 23,000 colones. My dad gave our waitress his credit card and told her to run it in colones. A few minutes later, he got a text from his credit card company that his purchase was denied because it was over his credit limit.
He understandably had a short heart attack before figuring out the issue – our waitress had mistakenly run the bill as 23,000 DOLLARS!
We really believe it was an honest mistake and everything got sorted out just fine, and we never had this problem anywhere else in Costa Rica. Now we have a great story – we laughed about it through the entire trip!
Other Helpful Tips for La Fortuna
Where to Stay
We really adored our stay at Los Lagos, a gorgeous hot springs resort. It was an incredible value for the high quality stay we got! There are extensive, gorgeously landscaped grounds, a large, hot breakfast buffet (as I waxed poetic on above!), a couple of regular pools with seriously fast waterslides, 8+ hot springs, a wet bar, a perfect view of the volcano, and really nice rooms.
We loved ending our day hopping between the all the hot springs on the resort.
How to Get Around
I would 100% recommend renting a car for your time in Costa Rica – it’s hands down the easiest and most convenient way to get around. Definitely check out my article about everything to know about driving in Costa Rica before you go – there are a lot of helpful and money-saving tips in there!
Other Posts About Costa Rica
- Our Costa Rica Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Costa Rica Cost?
- A 10 Day Costa Rica Itinerary
- 16 Awesome Things to Do in La Fortuna
- Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: Sleep, Eat, And Do
- A Guide to Driving in Costa Rica
Final Thoughts on Eating in Costa Rica
There’s so much good food in Costa Rica that no matter where you decide to eat in La Fortuna, you’ll be sure to find something delicious. Definitely don’t miss the smoothies, the casado, or the patacone!