Reviews – places and services you’ll love

breakfast samara costa rica

Ted Jackson is serving breakfast at the El Pollo Palace on the plaza.


Sorry - I should have photographed before I started eating

Sorry – I should have photographed before I started eating

His morning special of two eggs, gallo pinto, maduras, and coffee for c1,500 is the best deal around. But next time I’m going to try his Biscuits and Gravy for c1,300.

breafast samara costa rica

We’re going to make breakfast with Ted part of our Wednesday morning routine – that’s the day we take the garbage to town for weekly pick-up. (It’s an old family tradition, brought from the Pacific Northwest, to treat ourselves to breakfast on Dump Day.)

what to eat samara costa rica

Two of my favorite people – Brookie and Lisa were some of my first readers when I started this blog in 2011 – are running one of my favorite businesses in Playa Sámara. Pura Paleta makes all natural gourmet popsicles that offer just the right mix of refreshment and self-righteousness; natural sweeteners like agave nectar and raw honey are used only in the flavors that need them like Blackberry Ginger Limeade. These pops combine whole tropical fruits and fresh herbs for very interesting flavors and thirst-quenching, not too sweet frozen treats. Pineapple Cilantro Lime and Mango Ginger Mojito are two of my favorites.


Pura Paleta started producing pops and selling them on the street a little over a year ago. This high season in our little beach town, they’re opening with a new “permanent” location in front of Dragonfly Gallery at the main intersection. Now you don’t have to hunt for them as they stake a daily claim for valuable street-side real estate among the vendors of fish fillets, farm fruits and vegetables, fresh squeezed orange juice, and hot empanadas as well as occasional rattan furniture and concrete planters that make our pueblo oh, so Tico. Most of the vendors set up early each morning in front of the Palí supermarket. Just a few steps away, Pura Paleta now has a home from noon to 5 each day. Read More

ceviche in costa rica

Ceviche is a dish of lime cured fish and is sold at every truck stop and street corner in Costa Rica.  For 1500 colones ($3.00) and served with soda crackers, hot sauce and mayonnaise to taste, it makes a low calorie snack or a cheap lunch.

what to eat in costa rica

Yesterday at the “bomba” (gas station) just outside of Samara, the vendor only had shrimp.  Her misfortune was my reward.  Delicious!  Pura Costa Rica!

restaurants sammara carrillo costa rica

We’ve always loved the ambiance at El Sueno Tropical.  The open air restaurant, tucked under a traditional Bri-Bri roof is quintessential Costa Rica.  Now that Vinnie and Zaida are off to a new project, we’re excited to see the restaurant re-opened and renamed Salsas.

The new owner, Jose, brings from his Cuban heritage-Miami upbringing and his world travels a slight Spanish flavor to the menu with a nice selection of Tapas (or starters).  We shared  torta espanola, ceviche, frittata de zucchini, and eggplant with mozzarella.  All ranged in the $3-4 and were delicious.  The marinara on the eggplant was a special treat.  An eclectic mix of entrees followed, all beautifully plated and in the $8 range.   The beef teriyaki was cooked to order and the sauce had an authentic taste.  (What is that spice that isn’t in my recipe?)  We’ll have to encourage Jose to add a chicken teriyaki choice for non beef eaters.  My cousin found the Tropical Chicken very good but not enough of the raspberry reduction was presented to add much to the flavor.  So she treated herself to Chocolate Crusted Key Lime Pudding.  Fabulous!  I’m not a big dessert fan but I could do that again.

Welcome Jose and Salsas.  Thanks for bringing a new flavor to Samara-Carrillo.  Although I forgot to ask Jose, I imagine the hours haven’t changed.  Because of the hotel, Salsas is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  About 8 kilometers southeast of downtown Samara or 2k. from Puerto Carrillo.

el sueno tropical carrillo costa rica

restaurants samara costa ricaThe freshest  food in town is at Kai Bella.  The Owner and chef, Belle, personally prepares each plate of delicious Thai cuisine.  Entrees include chicken, beef, seafood and of course vegetarian choices.  The vegetables are hand-cut with such care that each plate is a work of art.  And art takes time.  But now since Kai Bella has a liquor license, the wait is not unpleasant.  We started with Thai Spring Rolls and followed with Generals’s Spicy Chicken and Jerk Chicken from the Carribean page of the menu.  There’s also a Chinese page.  Everything was gorgeous, delicious, crispy and savory.  Could have been a little hotter for me so I’ll ask for an additional star next time.kai bella samara costa rica

visit playa samara beach costa ricaGrocery shopping in Costa Rica doesn’t look like it does at home, especially if you live in the US or Canada, where supermarkets take up a block of real estate and are appointed with expensive delis and 22 year old wine stewards. Supermarkets in Costa Rica are smaller with fewer products and more utilitarian lighting.  They’ll feel foreign at first.  But, isn’t that part of the fun of travel?  To help you find what you need for survival and sustenance, here’s a primer of shops in and around Samara.  All are locally owned as for as I know, except as noted. Read More

where to eat in samara costa ricaIn Costa Rica, a “soda” is a small street-side café, usually with an open counter and stools.  They serve a small range of fresh food for a very fair price.  Casados are popular – see my post ”6 things to eat in Costa Rica?” –  but usually there are gallos and empanadas, too. A “refresco del dia”  is made with fruit or rice and water, while a “batido” is a fruit smoothy.  Eating at a soda is quick and inexpensive, so you might have to fight the lunch crowd for a stool.  Off-hours it’s a great place for a cool refreshment while catching up on the cook’s favorite soap opera.

Our favorite Samara soda is La Perla is Cangrejal, just a block off the northwest end ofthe beach. try her fried chicken.restaurants costa rica