El Sueño Tropical Restaurant has been a Sámara area standby for all the years we’ve been coming to Costa Rica. We love the atmosphere. The dining room sits underneath a typical thatched Bribri roof, completely open air, without walls. The fresh breezes and sounds of birds and Congos from the adjacent forest flush the room. At night, it’s magical.
When you get tired of rice and beans, and need to refresh your taste buds with some pub grub, El Sueño is the place to go. The current owners have composed the menu with a mix of the American South – Vinnie’s from Georgia – and Costa Rica tipico food – Zaida grew up in the southern mountains of Costa Rica.
Yesterday, I satisfied my urge for a Philly cheese steak sandwich: nicely spiced shredded beef and cheese on a fresh-baked roll with a side of jalapeño gravy. The onion rings were light and crisp. Steve had a veggie pizza with a thick chewy crust, different from the thin crisp Italian style we typically find around here – there’s a big Italian community in Sámara – and it was loaded with vegetables and cheese. El Sueño has a full bar including a nice selection of wines. The menu includes steaks, fish and chicken, pasta and salads. But I go there for the great sandwiches, which I can’t get anywhere else.
With two televisions and all the appropriate software, there’s always a game on over the bar. Sunday afternoons have been crowded lately – it’s football season somewhere. If you stay for a while, you might be visited by the “pet” parrot which was rescued from a brush fire by a neighboring farmer. He is completely free but likes to visit the restaurant and his beloved family. His loyalty is firm, albeit shifting. Even though Zaida hand fed the bird when he first came to live with them, because she left for two weeks on holiday, he now only has eyes for Vinnie. He’s mean to everyone else so don’t try to pet him; he bites.
Seven kilometers southeast of Sámara, El Sueño Tropical is worth the 20 minute drive from Casa Mango and Casa Papaya. Or make it an excursion: Stop on the way for a swim at Playa Carrillo or a peek at the crocodile that lives under the bridge.