If you’ve made your way to Tamarindo for the waves (and those incredible sunsets), you’ll also want to know another aspect of this laid-back paradise that deserves your attention: the food scene. Whether you’re looking to load up on carbs before an early morning session, refuel after hours of catching waves or celebrate that perfect ride with some beachside dining, we’ve got you covered with some top Costa Rica food. 

Grab your board, work up an appetite, and let’s dive into Tamarindo’s culinary offerings. The surf’s up, and dinner is served.

Early Morning Fuel-Ups

Catching those glassy morning waves means an early start, but don’t worry as Tamarindo has some great options for early risers looking to get some food in Costa Rica.

Café Tico

This local favorite opens early and serves up some of the best coffee in town. Their breakfast burritos are packed with eggs, cheese, and your choice of bacon or chorizo—perfect for fueling up before hitting the waves. Pair it with their strong Costa Rican coffee, and you’ll be ready to tackle even the biggest swells.

Tip: Grab one of their homemade energy bars for a mid-session snack. They’re packed with nuts and dried fruit, giving you a quick energy boost between sets.

Santa Rita Café

An image of an acai bowl

For health-conscious surfers, Santa Rita Café is the perfect morning pit stop. This charming spot opens early, serving up a menu full of fresh, locally-sourced fuel for your dawn patrol.

Their açaí bowls are legendary – packed with antioxidants and topped with tropical fruits and crunchy granola, they’re the ideal pre-surf breakfast. Pair it with their locally-sourced coffee for a real wake-up call.

If you need something heartier, the avocado toast topped with a poached egg will keep you riding waves all morning. In a rush? Grab a ‘Green Machine’ smoothie to go – it’s like a liquid multivitamin that actually tastes good.

Don’t miss: homemade energy balls, perfect for stashing in your board shorts for a mid-session boost.

Post-Surf Refuel Stations

After hours in the water, you’ll need to replenish those calories. Here are some great spots to satisfy your post-surf hunger.

Surf Shack

A casual spot popular with local surfers, Surf Shack’s portions are generous, prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is relaxed. The burgers here are a local favorite. Think juicy patties topped with fresh ingredients and you’re not far off. It’s a great place to refuel after a long session in the water.

Don’t miss: Their all-day breakfast menu. Eggs any style, bacon, pancakes, and bottomless coffee make for a perfect post-surf meal.

Green Papaya

An image of fish tacos

If you’re looking for something lighter after surfing, Green Papaya is worth a visit. They’re known for their fresh fish tacos, made with locally caught fish and topped with tangy slaw and house-made salsas. Pair it with one of their fresh-pressed juices for a refreshing and healthy post-surf meal.

Surfer’s special: Ask about their daily specials – they often feature unique combinations of local ingredients.

Beachfront Bites

Sometimes, you just want to stay close to the waves. Luckily, Tamarindo has plenty of spots where you can enjoy a meal with your toes in the sand.


A short trip from Tamarindo, Lola’s at Playa Avellanas is worth the journey. This beachfront restaurant is famous among surfers and food lovers alike. Their wood-fired pizzas are crispy and delicious, and the fish tacos are some of the best in the area. The best part? You can watch the surf while you eat, with a cold drink in hand.

Local’s tip: Try to snag a table right on the beach for the best views of the surf.


Located right on Tamarindo beach, Nogui’s is perfect for a sunset dinner after a day of surfing. They’re known for their fresh seafood, always caught locally and expertly prepared. Their ceviche is a must-try—tangy, spicy, and made with the catch of the day. It’s the perfect light meal when you’re too sun-kissed for anything heavy.

Surfer’s choice: Try their grilled fish of the day. It’s simply prepared, allowing the freshness of the fish to shine through.

Healthy Options

Surfing is demanding, and keeping your body in top shape is all part of the process to excelling on the waves. These spots serve up nutrient-dense meals to keep you energized and surf-ready.

Organic Market

An image of coconuts

Every Saturday morning, local farmers and artisans gather to sell their produce and goods. It’s a great place to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables for your stay. You’ll also find food stalls selling healthy treats like fresh coconut water (nature’s own sports drink) and homemade kombucha.

Don’t miss: Look for stalls selling local superfoods like chia seeds and raw cacao. They make great additions to your morning smoothie.

Cala Luna Restaurant

Nestled in the Cala Luna Boutique Hotel, this restaurant is a hidden gem for health-conscious surfers. With a focus on organic, locally-sourced ingredients, Cala Luna offers a menu that’s both nutritious and delicious.

Their farm-to-table concept shines in dishes like the quinoa and roasted vegetable bowl, packed with protein and complex carbs to fuel your surf sessions. For a refreshing post-surf meal, try their tuna poke bowl, featuring fresh, locally-caught fish.

Cala Luna also caters to various dietary needs with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Don’t miss their fresh smoothies and cold-pressed juices – perfect for rehydrating after a day in the waves.

Check out: the restaurant’s tranquil garden setting offers a peaceful retreat from the beach bustle. 

Special Occasion Spots

Had an exceptional day on the waves? Celebrate with some of Tamarindo’s finer dining options.

Pangas Beach Club

With its beachfront location and stunning sunset views, Pangas is perfect for a special night out. The seafood here is excellent – try the seafood risotto, packed with locally caught shrimp, fish, and calamari. They also have a great selection of cocktails that perfectly complement the beach setting.

Surfer’s splurge: If it’s available, try the grilled lobster. It’s a treat that’s worth the splurge after a week of casual dining.

Seasons by Shlomy

For a true gastronomic adventure, head to Seasons. This restaurant takes Costa Rican dishes and elevates them to fine dining status. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect innovative dishes that showcase local ingredients in new and exciting ways.

Chef’s choice: Consider trying the tasting menu for a full tour of the chef’s culinary skills.

Late Night Options

After a day of surfing and maybe a bit of nightlife, you might find yourself craving a late-night snack. Here are some options that stay open late.

La Pachanga

This casual spot is open late and serves up satisfying comfort food. La Pachanga are known for their pizzas and calzones, which hit the spot after a night out. The portions are generous, perfect for satisfying those post-surfing, post-partying hunger pangs.

Hangover helper: Their breakfast menu, served all day, is perfect for those mornings when you might have overdone it the night before.

Tacos Tacos

When nothing but tacos will do, Tacos Tacos is there for you. Open late, especially on weekends, this spot serves up simple but delicious tacos. The al pastor (marinated pork) is a favorite, but their fish tacos are also excellent – a nod to Tamarindo’s coastal location.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to try their selection of salsas. From mild to fiery, there’s something for every palate.

Surf Camp Cuisine

If you’re staying at a surf camp, such as Pura Vida, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. Many of Tamarindo’s camps are stepping up their culinary game.

Pura Vida Surf Camp from Rapture Surfcamps

At Rapture Surfcamps in Playa Avellanas, the culinary experience is as enticing as the waves. The camp’s chefs craft delicious meals using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, offering a delightful mix of cuisines. 

Guests can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet and mouth watering dinners from Monday to Friday, all prepared in the camp’s kitchen. The full bar also serves refreshing drinks throughout the day.

Local Specialties to Try

While in Tamarindo, don’t miss the chance to try some Costa Rican specialties before or after your surf. Here are a few dishes to look out for:

Gallo Pinto 

This mixture of rice and beans is a Costa Rican meal that’s a staple of the country, often served at breakfast. It’s usually accompanied by eggs, plantains, and sometimes meat or cheese. It’s a hearty, filling dish that’s perfect for fueling up before a morning surf session.


A typical lunch dish, casado consists of rice, beans, plantains, salad, and a choice of meat or fish. It’s a balanced meal that provides all the nutrients you need to get back on your board.


These twice-fried plantain slices are a popular side dish or snack. Often served with black bean dip or guacamole, they’re crispy, salty, and utterly addictive.


While not unique to Costa Rica, the local version of this raw fish dish is not to be missed. Made with fresh, locally caught fish, lime juice, and vegetables, it’s the perfect light meal for a hot day.

Agua Dulce 

This traditional drink is made from sugar cane juice and water. It’s sweet and refreshing, perfect for rehydrating after a long surf session.

Dining Etiquette and Tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind when dining out in Tamarindo:

  1. Tipping: A 10% service charge is usually included in restaurant bills. If it’s not, or if the service was exceptional, an additional tip is appreciated.
  2. Reservations: For higher-end restaurants, especially during peak tourist season, it’s a good idea to make reservations.
  3. Dress code: Most places in Tamarindo are pretty casual, but for finer dining establishments, you might want to change out of your board shorts and flip-flops.
  4. Water: Tap water is generally safe to drink in Tamarindo, but if you’re unsure, stick to bottled water.
  5. Local specialties: Don’t be afraid to try local dishes and ingredients. Costa Rican cuisine is diverse and delicious!
  6. Timing: Many restaurants in Tamarindo cater to the surf crowd, opening early for pre-surf breakfasts and staying open late for post-surf dinners.

Summing up: Surf and Turf

From pre-dawn breakfasts to late-night snacks, this surf town has a wealth of options to keep you well-fed and energized for those waves. Remember, good food is as much a part of the surfing lifestyle as the perfect wave. So don’t be afraid to explore and indulge in the local cuisine. After all, you’ll burn it off in the water tomorrow, right? Now get out there and enjoy both the surf and the local flavors.