El Sapo Doro: The Golden Frog
The website says: "El Sapo Dorado restaurant features original recipes in a blend of international and Costa Rican cuisine. Dishes are prepared with attention to nutritional value and are low in fat, sugar and salt. Whole grains are used whenever possible, vegetarian dishes are always available. At our full bar you may choose from a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
"Enjoy your meal either indoors or on the open-air terrace, accompanied by a variety of Latin, Jazz and Classical music selections. "
Our restaurant / bar is open to the public 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. - Breakfast: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Lunch: 12 noon to 3 p.m. - Dinner: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Lunches are available for outings.
Favorite Dish: I don't remember exactly what we had except that it was delicious. We didn't avail ourselves of the packed lunch option because we had a small refrigerator in the room, and we came back for lunch or packed our own.
- Road Trip
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Adventure Travel
Treehouse Cafe: Unique Ambience
The Treehouse Cafe has a unique location in that it is in the building built around a large tree. It is on the second floor, looking into the tree and onto the street. It is a nice place to have a light meal or a drink with travel companions or yourself.
The food was only so-so. Although the selection is varied, I would not call it extensive and avante guard. I did really like the Passion Fruit batida made with milk. I had the Ham & Cheese sandwich, which was edible but not great. It was a tad bland, despite including gouda and other cheeses. The mango daiquiri was quite enjoyable as was the wonderful guacamole that I had with the chips.
I would rate this place as an okay establishment and tried mainly because it was attached to my hotel. There were other better places in town. A small plus is that it includes an internet cafe that you can add to your bill.
Accepts Credit Cards.
UPDATE (April07): I received an e-mail from someone whom I assume is from the Treehouse Cafe with a link to an updated site and menu. The menu is much different from the one that I saw. Looking at it now, it looks so much better in variety and unique options. I would love to try it again and hope that my so-so review does not disuade you from trying it; even if just for the unique setting.
Flor de Vida: Wonderful vegetarian food
We liked this place so much that we ate here 3 times in 2 days! You do not have to be vegetarian to enjoy the very fresh and flavorful meals here.The atmosphere is also very inviting, with modern and colorful original artwork (available for purchase) on the walls and windows that reveal a panoramic mountain vista.
Favorite Dish: The veggie lasagna was very good, and the veggie burger was huge and excellent! If you have eaten a million garden burgers, you will enjoy this one for a slight change. It seems to be homemade and is very delicious. We also had a peach-mango pie drizzled with chocolate sauce and with two small scoops of incredibly creamy local ice cream on the side. I wish we had a veggie restaurant here in my home town that is this good! Oh ... one thing ... please note that there is no wine or beer served.
Morphos: Good local cuisine
Nice restaurant designed around a butterfly theme. Upstairs just across from the big supermarket. Meal was very good, a veggie casado of salad, half a fried plantain, steamed veggies and of course rice & beans. I also had a very tasty lemonade. The bill includes the 10% automatic tip and the 13% additional tip because it's a fancy restaurant--came to almost $11.
11:30am - 9pm
the café: only cakes...
If you are looking for cakes and coffee this is the place to enter, only don't expect gallo pinto, nor eggs and ham for breakfast... just cakes but my "just" is NOT disparaging: they bake really yummy cakes, serve them with absolutely friendly manners and you can see in action that local coffee machine you have seen only in souvernirs shops till now, it's on the left in my pic...
see down...: arroz or arroz...
In the pic the arroz, a national dish in Costa Rica, served at the soda El Amistad.
When I asked about the bathroom saying I needed some water for something in my eye, which I was keeping closed with an hand on it, the very nice lady told me to go with her in the kitchen as there was no basin in the bathroom. In the kitchen the tap didn't seem to work and the lady gave me water in a basin while she was cooking my meal... someone will find this not in keeping with the cleanliness regulations but as already said, I'm not normal and I liked this place so much to return to one of its only three tables...
It's in front of the hotel "El Atardacer"
Then I tried the soda La Central where I had the best presented (and the taste was more than yummy too) arroz with "carne in salsa".
To find it, follow the main road turning left from the main square, it's one of the last locals on the right side.
And if you are looking for a finer service, go to the restaurant El Atardacer, more infos in my accomodation tip, I don't want to bother you with the same words...
It has a lovely rustic decor full of blue butterflies,called morpho, hence the name of the restaurant.
The restaurant offers Costan Rican dishes as well as vegetarian dishes and pastas, fish and meat dishes.
Favorite Dish: Casado
- Food and Dining
Johnny's: Great pizza
The food is excellent here. Pizza is their specialty, and they also have pasta, steak and fish. You can see the wood oven from the dining area. Their pizza are thin crust and there are many varieites to choose from, and if you can't find one from the menu, you can select your own ingrediants too.
The ambience is very good. When I first walked in, I thought it was an expansive restaurant. It is beautifully decorated.
It is a popular restaurant and I suggest you go early or make a reservation.
If you are staying in Santa Elena, it is possible to walk there. Don't forget to bring a flashlight if you are going for dinner. The road doesn't have street lights.
Boemios: upscale a bit
I should have known by the guy standing outside asking if you want to eat. It ws good, but overpriced at $15 for a small pizza & very tasty lemonade. Veggie pizza has the usual, plus carrots and enough cheese to make a Wisconsinite blush.
Pizza di Pepe: Decent Brick Oven Pizza
Overall, I was satisfied with this place. It was very popular with both tourists and locals, especially at lunch time.
The menu had a great variety of dishes from salads, fresh fish, pastas, traditional italian fare, and pizzas. I had a ham & cheese pizza that was a good size and could easily feed two people. It was a brick oven pizza and was brought out on a nice wooden platform tray. The cheese was good and the sauce equally tasty.
Not a bad place if you are looking for something that is familiar and tasty.
The prices were on par with many other establishments.
Accepts Credit Cards.
Camino Verde: Soda!
I got the feeling this place can do everything. I'm putting it in the "restaurant" category because that's how we used it most, but it's also a gift shop, a money exchange center, a touristic info center and a hotel. As an info center they offer great advice on tours you can do around the area (and sell them to you) but they also let tourist post their message on the walls. Everywhere, you can read, in every language possible, notes, salutations and advice from the peoples that where there before you.
The place is always in motion, always full of travelers and it seems, always open! Staff are friendly... up until you pay. After that, you're somewhat less important... a shame I think.
Favorite Dish: Everything was good, casados to mexican inspired food. Plates a little small.
- Budget Travel
Chunches: Food, books and laundry...
We didn't ate there, but we had to do our laundry. To do so, better here than anywhere else! While waiting for our stinky clothes to become new again, we browsed the books store, magasines stands and the gift shops (great selection of kid stuffs btw).
PS on the laundry: some 5$ a night hotel offer to do your laundry for free... (they want your business so much)
- Budget Travel
El Nido: More soda!
In the triangle of Santa Elena, we tried many little sodas but found this one to be our favorite. It's on the second floor of the bakery and you get a somewhat great view of what's happening in town. The service is very very slow but the food is very good and prices low.
Favorite Dish: Casados again are great.
They have a great variety of salads, which I really enjoy for lunch.
- Budget Travel
Soda Mary's: Gest Gallo Pinto I Had
As guests at the Cabinas Pueblos Hostel, the lady recommended to us to go to a certain soda up the hill. We went there, and didn't exactly enjoy it. Turns out from the guidebooks, it's her mother's soda. For our next breakfast we decided to try Soda Mary's, right next door to Soda Amistad. It had a few tables, it was very clean, you can see right into her kitchen. She used a wood burning stove.
Favorite Dish: I loved that we had nonmatching coffee cups. My friend had $2 pancakes and I had the best gallo pinto w/ eggs of the whole trip. Mostly because the rice was a nice texture, had good seasoning, tomatoes, cilantro, and tasty pork bits. I would definitely recommend this soda for a cheap local meal.
- Budget Travel
Rain Forest Cafe: Great Coffee & Good Food
This place sells a lot of coffee products but also sells light meals. The first floor has a few tables, but the second floor has more, including several on a balcony overlooking the street. The food is decent with great tasting coffee products. The balcony is nice to sit and read or watch the people as you eat. I went a couple times in three days.
Accepts Credit Cards.
Favorite Dish: Cafe Helado - essentially an iced coffee but included a scoop of the fresh ice cream from the local lecheria. Defitely a good choice for a drink or desert.
Cafe Jengibre- black coffee with fresh ginger & honey. I like thing sweet, so I added plenty of sugar.
The quesadillas & the chalupas are pretty tasty for the cost.