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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.)

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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!

where to eat samara costa rica

Pablitos Bar is a stand-by for lunch in Samara, favored by truckers, Ticos and extranjeros alike for good value.

where to eat costa rica

After 20 years at the same roadside location just west of Samara, Pablitos recently moved to a new beach palapa.

beach bar samara costa rica

With lots of parking and a big screen TV, it’ll still be popular with truckers and soccer fans.

dining costa rica

But now it’s beach view and breezes will make for a more pleasant afternoon spot than its previous warren of tiny dark rooms.

food and dining samara beach costa rica

At Pablitos, every beer (or soft drink) comes with a cup of soup (boca).

what to do in costa rica

Olla de Carne is a consistent standard but there’s usually another option or two, which might be shrimp, chicken, carne en salsa, or white bean.  And for less than two bucks (c1,000), you can’t beat it.

comida tipica costa rica

There is a menu with the usual tipico fare, enjoyed by families and cowboys, but most patrons opt for a beer and a boca.

playa samara beach costa rica

Near the west end of Samara Beach, just next to the Rio Lagarto, Pablitos is reached by the road to El Manglar and Lagarto restaurants.

pablitos bar samara costa rica

The biggest problem with the move is that many “direcciones” – We don’t have street names or numbered addresses in Costa Rica.  That’s a subject for a much longer post. – will be obsolete.  My uncle’s “direccion” will forever more be “900 meters northwest of OLD Pablitos Bar.”

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

burger kingThe Burger King in Nicoya brings new meaning to the term “Fast Food”.

burger king in costa ricaThe cashier rides shot-gun, the kitchen is in the back with a service window on the side, and they can just drive away if business gets bad.  These trucks are becoming more common in Costa Rica.  Pizza Hut uses them too.   The playgrounds are very popular with Tico families.

burger king in costa ricaIndeed, Americans only export the very best of cuisine and culture.

mexican food in costa ricaA lot of tourists in Costa Rica make the mistake of expecting Mexican food.   On her first visit my friend, Kathy, famished from a long plane ride, erroneously ordered a taco before I could warn her.  What arrived on her plate was a flat corn tortilla, topped with chunks of chicken, shredded cabbage, ketchup and a generous swirl of mayonnaise.  Just because it’s on the menu doesn’t mean you should order it.  Steve and I have made the same rookie mistake, and all too recently.

restaurants in costa ricaYou have to remember, that even though we’re south of the border, Costa Rica isn’t Mexico and the culture is very different.  The Ticos don’t have a taste for spicy flavors.  Traditionally, food here is fresh but mild.  Beans are always black, tortillas are always corn, and everything is cooked with garlic and cilantro.  Until now.

Finally, in playa samara beachSamara we have good Mexican food at Coco’s Mexican.  Steve and I tried it last night and I know we’ll be back.  The food was delicious.  His chicken fajitas came heaped on a sizzling platter with a side of mildly seasoned pinto beans and accompanied with soft corn torillas and three sauces: guacamole, natilla, and fresh tomato salsa.  I enjoyed the marinated steak tacos.  The guacamole side was nice but the mango salsa was a little sweet so I ate it like compote for dessert.  Although still not picante, it was richly seasoned with Mexican flavors.

Coco’s has long been one of our favorite restaurants in Samara.  Through several owners in the same location, the food and service has been consistently good.  Located in a shady garden off the street and behind the Samara Travel Center, this Mexican version has expanded with more tables near the street.  It’ll be great for people watching.  Open for lunch and dinner.

samara beachOne of our favorite places for an icy cold beer in the afternoon has new owners.  Lo Que Hay (What It Is) on the beach east of the police station has a street entrance as well.  Pass the time in the shade of a wide Almendro tree and watch the surfers and all the beach activity – you’d expect no less from a beach bar in the Tropics. Inside the courtyard, you can keep your feet clean at a bistro table under an umbrella.  Or step into the shelter of the rancho where there is a wide-screen TV.- popular with locals for sports events.

costa rica beaches

restaurants costa ricaBrett, Bonnie, and Justin have created a new menu with southwest flair – check out Taco Tuesdays for bargain plates with a beer.  Eight of us snacked on Jalapeño Poppers – they’re wrapped in thick bacon – and a couple of pizzas.  Both were delicious.  (How do they keep the poppers so crisp and yet mild?)  The pizza is a thicker crust than you find in a lot of Samara pizzerias but the topping was excellent.  The taco plate includes a choice of three from the 6 available flavors.  For lunch, I enjoyed the beef fajitas, blackened fish, and mojo pork, which I loved – all great taco choices.  There’s a nice selection of better wines and beers.  But the best news is that the service is still excellent, driven by veteran waiter Alberto’s charm and experience.

samara beach
Lo Que Hay is dog-friendly (if leashed).