Thursday, May 3, 2012

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica Restaurants

One thing to know going into a stay in Santa Teresa is that all the good restaurants aimed at tourists have American prices. There's no getting a heaping pile of noodles and veggies for $2 like in Southeast Asia. Also, luckily for me, the town of Santa Teresa has no shortage of veggie-friendly options. We ate like kings here, I did not expect the food to be so amazing. There was not a single restaurant that we left disappointed.  I figured I'd go home from Central America a few pounds lighter (especially with our start in Nicaragua), instead I came back heavier.  I'm really disappointed in myself for not taking more photos of the food.  I'm usually that annoying person that whips out my camera for every little thing. Unfortunately I wasn't thinking about blogging, just satisfying my hunger.

-Camaleon-we got into town on a Saturday evening and were starving and this was the first place we happened along that had a menu we liked. I'm not sure what kind of food you would call it. I had what was called a yellow curry but was very citrusy, not at all what you'd expect from a curry. My brother had a veggie taco appetizer. It was pretty good but didn't floor us.

-Zula-Zula turned out to be one of our favorite restaurants in town, we went back a couple of times. They have great pita sandwiches and hummus, 2 of my favorite vegetarian staples. The sandwiches are about $6-8 US.  Oddly enough my favorite restaurant in Bali is called Zula Vegetarian Paradise and also has fantastic pita sandwiches.
Hummus and falafel plate at Zula

-Pasta Basta-We wandered up the road to this place one night. It seems to be very popular and is always relatively busy. The food was great. I had the pesto (of course). Scott got lasagna and Evan got one of their specials, pumpkin ravioli. They definitely know how to do Italian in Costa Rica, there is a large population of them in Santa Teresa.

-Habaneros-Habaneros is beachfront and located at the Playa Cielo hotel. I had read the reviews on TripAdvisor, fantastic food but pricey. We always miss Mexican food when we go on vacation so we decided to go for it. All the reviews were correct, it has a great vibe and yummy food. It seems to very popular and it was the only experience in town where we had to wait for a table (though not long). However they did not have ANY vegetarian options on their menu. I asked them to make me a veggie burrito and it was delicious but also the most expensive burrito I have ever eaten ($14). I come from the land of fantastic burritos so I don't think this place was worth the money. Also they don't carry any local beers here, only Mexican beers and they're all $4. So while the food was good I just don't think this place is worth the price, especially with so many other food options in town. 

-Pranamar-What can I say about Pranamar? I think this was the best food we had on out entire trip. We were on a strict budget this whole trip and this was worth blowing the bank for. They have an ever evolving eclectic menu so it's just written on a chalkboard every day. everything is fresh and delicious. I daydream about their vinyasa dressing and wish I could re-create it. The dinners ran from $13-$23 US, appetizers $7-$10. They also had great wine for a decent price ($7) by the glass which most places in town do not have.
Noodles & veggies at Pranamar

Pranamar is located at a hotel by the same name on the north edge of town after you drive north of where the road meets the water. The hotel looked absolutely beautiful, reminiscent of one of the places we stayed in Thailand. I would love to stay there but it's a bit pricey for our budget.

-The Bakery-This was the other place we went back to multiple times; twice for breakfast, once for dessert and once for dinner. So we were able to sample a large selection of their foods.  Their large breakfast menu included a lot of traditional things like pancakes, french toast and breakfast burritos. They also have pastries and a good selection of coffee/tea as well as wireless internet. On Monday nights they have all you can eat pizza for 5000 colones ($10 US). The Bakery is located just north of "El Cruze," the crossroads of Mal Pais/Santa Teresa.

-El Pulpo-We happened upon this place one night while driving around trying to find a food option that would make us all happy. We pulled over and I ran in to look at the menu since I'm the picky one. A local guy eating there with his son told me it was the best pizza in the area and I tend to listen to the locals. He was right (of course). They had a huge menu of pizza, pasta and calzones. I judge a pizza by it's crust and they had great crust. Their personal size pizzas fed us all dinner and lunch the next day.
-Horizon Vegetarian Tea House-My brother and I had our final lunch here and I think husband-face was getting a little tired of the veggie eating so he opted out of this one. It has an all-vegetarian menu that I had read about before our trip. Horizon is located at a yoga-centric hotel of the same name up the hill from the main road.  The hotel is gorgeous and the little restaurant has a phenomenal view.  Lunch did not disappoint, bagel sandwiches for both of us as well as quite possibly the best smoothie I have ever tasted (orange, pineapple, raspberry, mint)
The view from Horizon

-Italian Ice Cream-This little gelato place is in the "strip mall" at El Cruze.  You can't see it from the main road, you need to go back into the shopping center. It is SOOOO good, very satisfying to the sweet tooth.  We all agreed that the dark chocolate was the best though every flavor we had was amazing. I have not been to Italy and had gelato there but if it's as good as this I have something to look forward too (planning an Italy trip for September!). 

There were a bunch of other restaurants we wanted to try but didn't get around to.  I really wanted to try Ambrosia but it was closed both times we drove past. Ginger Cafe was another we meant to hit but ran out of time. Also this map is a fantastic guide to the Santa Teresa area and shows you where everything is.

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