Sunday, July 20, 2014

Restaurant Reviews

I have been living in Costa Rica for a little over 2 months now, and wanted to share a post about places we have eaten and our thoughts.  Some we have eaten at other times before we moved here as well.  It's hard to pick favorites, as we like different places for different reasons and food.  Here goes though.  I will update this list as we try different places as well and will try to post links to those that have websites.

1.  Green Room Café.  We have eaten here twice for dinner since moving here.  A couple local people recommended it to me, and we finally tried it.  Awesome place.  They have a regular menu, and a special menu that is written out on a chalkboard in the restaurant.  There is indoor and outdoor seating.  They have live music on most Friday and Saturday nights.  They also have a lot of local art displayed inside, which I believe is for sale.  I have also heard that they have an organic market there sometimes, but I have not asked when.  I need to do that.  Anyway, both times we ate there, no wait and easy to get a table.  We were told to sit anywhere we wanted to and both times, we sat indoors.  Both times, we ordered the exact same meals, so I guess we must have liked them!  :).  We started with two appetizers, falafel and guacamole.  Both awesome.  Kurt was leery of the falafel, but the second time we ate there, he ate that entire app himself!  The chips served with the guac are really good and taste homemade.  For my meal, I had the best mahi burrito of my life.  It was super spicy and just incredible.  Kurt had a grilled jalapeno and cheese sandwich with fries.  The sandwich is made with thick bread and the fries crispy.  We both had sodas, but one time Kurt had a juice that he really enjoyed. The second time we ate here, our friend RJ joined us.  He started with ceviche and had the mahi tacos, both of which he raved about.  One note, the Costa Ricans seem to like to go heavy with the cabbage on the tacos, so if you are not a fan, order none or ask for light.  RJ took about half of his off the tacos and I would have too if I ordered them.  The website says cash only, but we have paid with a card both times so I think that is an old entry.  We heard no music the first trip there, but the second time there was an acoustic duo playing American type music and they were really good.  Service has been awesome both times.  Prices are very reasonable.  I think our meal each time was around $40, but that was for drinks, 2 apps, and 2 meals.  They also use all local ingredients to cook their meals and make drinks.  I imagine we will be back here many times over.

2.  Taco Bar.  This is one of my fav places to eat in the world.  It is VERY casual, the one in Jaco anyway.  There is a bar you can sit at with swings, or there are tables outside to sit at as well.  We ate here many times before moving here, and we have eaten here twice since moving back.  They have 3 other locations besides the Jaco one, but the only other one I have been to is in Escazu, and I prefer Jaco, just for the casual beach environment.  Anyway, I get the same thing every single time I go here.  Ahi tuna tacos (two) spicy and well done with cheese.  You order at the window, they bring you the tacos on shells, and then you go to the salad bar in the middle of the restaurant to put the toppings on your tacos.  I usually add lettuce, onion, a spicy sauce they have.  They also have these little potatoes that everyone raves about.  Kurt eats a ton of these every trip.  They have bread as well that is pretty yummy.  You can go to the salad bar as many times as you want, so I have seen people go back multiple times for more salad or potatoes.  Kurt gets smoothies there for most meals and raves about those as well, but I usually get a Diet Coke.  We have never had a bad meal here.  We went with another couple last time, and our male friend said it was the best taco bar he has ever been to, which is saying a lot since he is from the land of taco bars, San Diego.  Prices are reasonable here as well, I think our bill is usually around $25.00.  Side note, they have breakfast here as well.

3.  Los Amigos.  Probably the most popular sports bar in Jaco.  Located on a corner near Taco Bar and El Lagar.  They have a huge menu here for a sports bar, with lots of variety in food. Kurt's fav thing here is the menu item called Big Ass Smoothie.  He adds extra protein and its great for workouts.  Anyway, I always get the shrimp pad thai and its incredible.  Kurt gets the mahi rice bowl most trips.  We had a guac app once that I would say was OK.  They served it with crackers in a package, and I thought that was a turnoff as I hate anything in a package.  But, it was decent besides that. We always get awesome service.  We tried to go here to watch one of the Costa Rica soccer games recently and the entire place was reserved ahead of time, so that shows how popular they are.  They have both indoor and outdoor seating and take credit cards.

4.  Caliche's Wishbone Restaurant and Bar.  We have been here twice after moving and had eaten here once prior to moving.  The seating is right on the Jaco strip so its great for people watching.  The appetizers here are awesome.  We have gotten a couple, both with chips and black beans or guac.  Both good.  I always get the mahi burrito here and it's great.  It used to be my fav until I discovered the one I really like at The Green Room (above).  Credit cards accepted.  Great service and have never had a bad meal here.

5.  Graffiti.  We have been here three times, all prior to moving here.  I consider this higher end dining, for Jaco anyway.  This in no way means you have to dress up though and casual is kind of the way of the land in Jaco and Costa Rica in general.  I think I wore a sundress and sandals.  Anyway, the décor in this place is awesome.  All graffiti covering the walls.  It is a small place, so on busy nights, I would recommend reservations.  We were lucky each time and they fit us in, but it was slammed each time we were there.  It is also kind of out of the way and hard to find, so ask around as it is not right on the main strip.  The menu here is on a whiteboard and changes daily and sometimes changes while you are there depending on availability. Every meal I have had here is creative and awesome.  We also split a dessert there one time for Kurt's bday, it was called Elvis something or other and it was truly amazing.  One of the best I have ever had.  Service is always awesome, and the place is just a gem. Credit cards accepted.   Highly recommend for a nicer meal out.

6.  Lemon Zest.  This place is raved about by everyone I encounter and it is a favorite for people.  We ate here once after the move.  I would suggest reservations on busy nights, but we lucked out and got a table.  They have indoor and outdoor seating.  This place is higher end, both in price and ambiance.  I would say it may even be a little snobby for Kurt and I, since we like casual places.  Service was perfect though.  They had a regular menu and specials which are told to you by the waiter.  Truthfully, I would prefer special written down so I don't have to remember them.  I had a seafood soup that was amazing, followed by a coconut shrimp entrée.  Both fabulous and prepared perfectly.  Prices are high for Jaco, but the food is worth it here.  Credit cards accepted.

7.  Jaco Taco.  I have eaten here once, and it was the night I arrived in Costa Rica to live and I was exhausted.  But, they were open as they are 24 hours, and Kurt had no food in the house since he can't cook without me.  Mexican food is very sparse in Costa Rica, so this place is popular when one wants to get a Mexican fix.  Great service, although we were the only table when we were there late at night.  I had a burrito and it was awesome.  It also was a great serving size, as I was starving and it filled me up.  Prices are great, and it's awesome to have a place open all night in Jaco in case you are craving a snack.  Kurt ate here quite often before I moved down, and he liked every meal.  It's a great place to watch the game, and they play American sports so Kurt would watch the Tigers.

8.  Amancio's.  Italian place in Jaco.  Pizza and pastas.  We should have only ordered one pizza.  We thought they were smaller sized, but they were HUGE.  I had a tuna and onion pizza and Kurt had cheese.  We ended up bringing home the equivalent of an entire pizza.  Super good food and exceptional service.  Indoor and outdoor seating, we sat outdoors here.  We also had a yummy bruschetta appetizer.  The credit card machine went down while we were eating, so we had to pay cash, which could have been a problem if we had no cash, but it was fine.  TVs to watch as you eat as well. 

9.  Pizza Pata.  Kurt ate here once before I moved down, and the other day, we were waiting for our travel agent to finish with some other people and he was hungry, so we stopped in.  I ordered a tuna and spinach one slice pizza and Kurt ordered three cheese. The pizza is awesome and a huge serving for one slice.  Cooked while we were there, and the prices were low.  Service was great.  They also have cheese and crushed pepper in packets on the table.  And wow, that crushed pepper was spicy, even for me!  Many say this is the best pizza in Jaco.  I don't have much to compare it to, but I thought it was pretty great.  They also deliver.

10.  Pops.  Chain ice cream place.  Lots of choices, both yogurt and ice cream.  Lots of different shakes, sundaes and other ways to have your ice cream.  I have not had much here, as I usually just go with Kurt and watch him eat.  But, I had a sundae there once with caramel ice cream and it was amazing.  They have waffle bowls for the sundaes made from scratch that were awesome.  Quick service and good prices.

11.  Heladeria El Barco.  Located next to Restaurant El Barco.  Gelato style ice cream served in a variety of ways.  Super yummy.  I have only technically eaten there once and had a cookie gelato that was amazing, one scoop in a cone.  Kurt has tried a lot and likes it all.  They have this meal you can get with a waffle and ice cream on top that looks amazing.  Have not had that yet.
12.  I Love Sushi.  When we ate here the first time, pre-move, it was located on the main highway and not in downtown Jaco.  They have since moved to downtown Jaco.  We ate here one time since moving.  The service was perfect in both locations.  The last time we ate there, the waiter brought out a free appetizer to try, fried green beans, that were awesome.  We both started with miso soup, and split three sushi rolls.  The rolls were all incredible.  Kurt commented it was possibly the best sushi he ever had.  Downfall to this place is price.  It seemed really high priced for Jaco.  Our bill was around $70 and we did not have alcohol, just sodas.  Supposedly, the local favorite place for sushi that has more reasonable prices is Arigato, so we will be trying that next for sushi just to save money.
13.  Dolce Vita.  I met up with a friend for lunch and she suggested Dolce Vita.  This place is located in the marina shopping area in Los Suenos Resort in Herradura.  This place has a menu and also inside, lots of bakery like treats and desserts.  I was not super hungry, so I had a bowl of minestrone soup which came with some amazing bread.  The soup was awesome.  My friend had soup and bread as well.  Service was good and there was seating outside and inside.  Prices were reasonable as well and the views are great there.

14. Surf Dogs.  Ate here once while watching Costa Rica lose in the World Cup.  Boo.  Kurt and I split some appetizers and I had one passionfruit daiquiri.  They have all these premixed units on the wall with different flavors.  Anyway, the daiquiri was incredible and left me buzzed the entire time I was there and after.  So, fabulous drinks.  The food was below average.  I was starving, so it hit the spot, but was your typical bar food that is nothing special.  Service was OK.  Waitress did not come to the table very often to see if we needed more to drink.  The place was slammed though, so I will cut her some slack.   I would prob not eat here again, but would have drinks for sure.

15.  Arigato.  Sushi.  Always busy, and is supposedly THE place to get sushi.  Once seated, I noticed the Happy Hour Specials on the table which look great, but alas, it was not happy hour while we were there.  That's OK though.  Prices were about half of what I Love Sushi were, so that was great.  Rolls were not as "fancy" or filling, but were good just the same.  We ordered two miso soups and three rolls to split.  The miso was awesome and had some little noodles instead of tofu, which Kurt loved.  Super yummy.  Service was great and quick.  Super friendly staff. Highly recommend.

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