Deciding where to eat in Manuel Antonio can be overwhelming. With almost 75 restaurants tucked away in town and dozens more in nearby Quepos, knowing where to get a good meal isn’t always easy. We have been fortunate to live near Manuel Antonio for a couple of years now and eat there often. If you’re visiting, you will be happy to know that the food and overall dining experience is one of the best in Costa Rica. This guide covers some of our favorite restaurants in Manuel Antonio.
Note: All directions are given as if you are coming from Quepos.
Best Restaurants in Manuel Antonio
La Luna Restaurant at Gaia Hotel and Reserve
For fine dining and first-class service, head to La Luna Restaurant at the luxury Gaia Hotel. You will be whisked away by friendly hotel staff on a golf cart to the plush open-air restaurant on top of the hill. Enjoy a gourmet dinner or get the experience for less with a happy hour cocktail and tapas in the lounge (4-6 p.m.). Our favorite is the pineapple-jalapeno margarita. Located 2 km (1.2 miles) from downtown Quepos, left side of road after Hotel Plaza Yara.
Rafael’s Terrazas is a friendly, locally owned restaurant that serves upscale Costa Rican cuisine. The lunch menu has sandwiches, salads (the fresh tuna salad is recommended), seafood dishes, ceviche, and pasta. The dinner menu has more refined dishes that incorporate sauces like Mahi-Mahi in lemon and tuna in ginger-wasabi. The ocean view at Rafael’s is outstanding and we’ve even seen whales breaching while dining. This casual spot is kid and dog friendly. Set back from the road after La Cantina Restaurant on the right.
Manuel Antonio doesn’t have a lot of options for dining near the beach, but Marlin is a good one. This open-air restaurant serves traditional Costa Rican dishes like casados and fried snapper, but also has American classics like sandwiches, burritos, and fish tacos. Marlin is a popular spot during the day with people relaxing with a cool beverage after soaking up the sun or walking in the national park. Places come and go, but this restaurant has been around for a long time. Directly across from the main beach in Manuel Antonio.
One of our favorites in town is Barba Roja. Barba Roja has been in Manuel Antonio since 1975. Even in the low season, this chill restaurant/bar is a fun spot to hang out. Both tourists and locals come for the delicious food and good vibes. The menu, which has been recently updated, includes smoked ribs, sushi, and fresh fish dishes. Tuesdays are still big with 2-for-1 burgers and live music. Sunset is spectacular as well, as the restaurant sits high on the hill. At the top of the hill, across from Economy Rent a Car and right before the road to Hotel Mariposa.
If you have hit your limit on rice and beans, check out El Wagon for excellent wood-fired pizza. Costa Rica isn’t known for its pizza, but this is a go-to spot for many pizza enthusiasts we know. The Diavola with peppers, chorizo, and salami is a favorite, or try the El Wagon with mushrooms, onions, peppers, ham, and pineapple. After El Avion Restaurant on the right, on the way down the hill towards the beach.
El Patio de Cafe Milagro
Cafe Milagro is a longtime favorite in Manuel Antonio. Milagro specializes in gourmet coffee and roasts its own beans, but it’s also a wonderful spot for a meal. For breakfast, head to their lush outdoor dining area for an omelet or banana pancakes. For dinner, savor one of their meat or fish dishes and enjoy live music while sipping a local craft beer. Open all three meals. Vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. At the top of the hill across from Los Altos Resort and the road to Hotel Mariposa.
Ronny’s Place, Restaurante y Mirador Mi Lugar
This open-air restaurant situated on a peninsula overlooking the ocean has one of the best views of sunset around. You have to work a little to get there, but the vista, fun atmosphere, and good food at Ronny’s Place are worth it. As you’re driving up the hill, look for Amigos del Rio rafting and kayaking company on the left. Take a right and follow the bumpy dirt road for 800 meters.
Emilio’s is an eclectic cafe with gorgeous ocean and jungle views. While it is open for all three meals, we recommend it for breakfast or lunch so that you can take in the scenery. The food here is fresh and simple. For breakfast, the eggs benedict and brioche French toast are popular, and for lunch, people love the sandwiches and curry dishes. Homemade baked goods go great alongside their rich coffee. Often has jazz or Latin music. Located right before Hotel Mariposa on the road leading to Punta Quepos.
Pizza Pata is a super casual spot for a quick bite or delivery. Their rectangular pizza is sold by the meter and comes with yummy dipping sauces like pesto and spicy oil. Next to Sancho’s Taqueria and across from the soccer field.
If you’re wondering why a US military plane sits as if it crashed into the hillside of Manuel Antonio, you’re not alone. The story behind El Avion can be found on the back of their menu and reading it is a good excuse to sit down for some good food and drink. Before you leave, make sure to take some selfies in the plane’s cockpit, which is also the bar. This is the perfect place for the whole family, with a large menu and kid-friendly options. On the right after Hotel Villa Roca.
Restaurants at Marina Pez Vela
The new marina in Quepos opens up even more opportunities for fabulous food. One of the most popular restaurants at this seaside locale is Z Seafood. As the name implies, Z offers seafood dishes, but also homemade pasta and mouthwatering steak. The food feels sophisticated and so does the modern dining area. For something more laid back, there’s the Runaway Grill where you will find fishermen tipping back a beer after a day out on the water. From their balcony overlooking the ocean, you can enjoy great burgers, sandwiches, apps, and mains. Runaway also hosts a live radio broadcast of Radio Dos on Thursday evenings with updates on fishing conditions and local events.
Sunrice recently occupied one of the vacant spaces at the marina and is quickly making a name for itself. It serves healthy Asian food, and we have heard from friends who lived in this region of the world that it is the best around. Finally, Gabriella’s is popular for a fine dining experience. And of course, don’t forget to end your meal with a sweet treat from Gelateria Amorosi – we can never resist! The marina is in Quepos on the southern end of town.
If you need a ride, the marina has a shuttle that runs to the hotels in Manuel Antonio for free. Just ask your hotel to make the arrangements.
A Costa Rican friend recommended Mar Luna on one of our first visits to Costa Rica for a romantic night out. Mar Luna delivered. This rustic restaurant isn’t fancy by any means, but the warm wooden decor, candlelight, and majestic ocean view is guaranteed to set the mood. Don’t leave without sampling the seafood; it’s their specialty. After Hostel Vista Serena on the right.
Gondola Gourmet Restaurant
Gondola Gourmet is known for its authentic Italian food. They offer meat dishes like stuffed chicken and lamp chops, but the homemade pasta is the highlight. Portions are a little small considering the high price tag, but you can always get dessert. At Plaza Yara Hotel, on the left after Hotel Mono Azul.
Head to this chill cafe in downtown Quepos for the best breads and baked goods on the central Pacific coast. The welcoming expats who own the Brooklyn Bakery take their work seriously. You can see their love for good food in their hearty sandwiches, chewy bagels, and mouthwatering cakes. Next to the Gran Escape Restaurant in Quepos.
Restaurant Junior and Soda Sanchez
Quepos has many casual sodas (local restaurants) to choose from that will give you a taste of the culture. But for the best typical Costa Rican cuisine, we recommend Restaurant Junior, across the street from the bus station, or Soda Sanchez, a block up the road across from BCR bank and the Gollo store. These simple restaurants have delicious food at a very affordable price.
As you can see, Manuel Antonio has more great restaurants to choose from than you could possibly try on one vacation alone. With everything from laid back cafes and pizza shops, to elegant fine dining with rainforest views, Manuel Antonio’s dining scene has something for everyone.
What is your favorite restaurant in Manuel Antonio? Let us know in the comments below. (Email subscribers, click here to post your comment online.)
Check out these posts for more information to help plan your visit to Costa Rica:
- Manuel Antonio Trip Planning: Now you know where to eat, but what about hotels and activities? Check out this detailed guide for all the info.
- A Taste of Costa Rica: 7 Traditional Foods to Try – Ceviche, pargo, casados, and more. Learn the lingo for what to order at a local soda.
- 6 Great Eats Around Lake Arenal – If you’re driving from La Fortuna to Monteverde, there are some great restaurants along the way. Here are six of our favorites.