Jaco is a beach town with a lot going on. For first timers, the options for restaurants can be almost overwhelming. You’ll find everything from upscale gastropubs to hamburger joints and now even Indian food tucked between the many souvenir and surf shops on the main strip. We’ve been living in the Jaco area for a while now and have enjoyed checking out all the options. Here are some of our favorite restaurants to try in Jaco.
Many of the directions below are given based on the POPS building. Like most towns in Costa Rica, Jaco doesn’t use standard addresses. POPS is an ice-cream shop near the center of the strip. It makes for an easy point of reference.
Green Room Café
The Green Room is our go-to restaurant in Jaco. It has a big menu for no matter what you are craving, with everything from burgers and tacos to refined fish and steak dishes. The atmosphere is super laid back and the servers are friendly. It’s a big space with both indoor and outdoor seating. The Green Room focuses on local and organic ingredients. You can also find artisan craft beer from all around the country. Check out their Facebook page for the menu and info on live music and other events. $8-20. Ave. Pastor Diaz, across the street from POPS.
Graffiti Restro Cafe + Wine Bar
This upscale, but edgy, spot is one of the best places in town for a nice dinner out. Graffiti has made its mark with its slow food. They use only local ingredients in their innovative dishes. We’re always interested to see what combinations they come up with next, but some of our favorites have been the blackened mahi mahi with coconut rice and pineapple chutney and poke bowl, full of colorful veggies. They also host events and have live music. Check out their Facebook page for details. $10-30. Dinner only. Closed Sundays. Call ahead for reservations. Located in Jaco Walk, on the southern end of town past Mas X Menos grocery store.
We’re really excited about this new spot on the northern end of town. Amara is a contemporary Mediterranean restaurant. They have a nice list of appetizers for sharing as well as entrees and kids’ meals as well. You’ll find things like Grilled Octopus with hummus and a parsley sauce, Beef Gyro with feta and yogurt dressing, fried artichokes, and chicken-curry croquettes. The ambiance is upscale, but still comfortable. They also have a nice cocktail menu. In a white-washed building on the northern end of Ave. Pastor Diaz, a block up from the entrance to Hotel Tangeri.
The Pizza Shop
Whenever we’re craving pizza from back home, we head to the Pizza Shop. Their thin-crust pies always deliver. They use quality ingredients and smoke many of the meats in house. You can load up on maple-smoked bacon, sausage, and smoked chicken, as well as things like ricotta, pesto, and roasted zucchini. The vibe is super chill. $8-30. Check out their website for the menu. On the northern end of Ave. Pastor Diaz, a block up from the small yellow bridge.
Zona K Bistro
This small bistro is somewhat of a hidden gem in Jaco. The owner is a Costa Rican chef who is known for his innovative fare with Latin and Asian influences. The food at Zona K may take a little longer because everything is made from scratch, but it’s worth the wait. Some of our favorite dishes are the Cajun Tuna with Sesame or the Breakfast Skillet for brunch. This is a popular spot, and the small dining area can fill up quickly, especially on weekends. Closed Mondays. Located on the northern end of town, across the street from Best Brands shoes.
Puddle Fish Brewery
Puddle Fish is a local brewery in Jaco. They had a restaurant in Jaco Walk, but recently closed it to open their new bigger and better brewery and tasting room. Construction is underway now. The large industrial-looking building will house their expanded brewery operations and have a tasting room and beer garden. They’ve also carved out some spaces for projects like a skate bowl, demo on how surf boards are made, and an in-house screen painting studio. The new location will be on the southern end of Jaco across the street from the entrance of Miros Mountain. In the meantime, they have opened Side Car Bar where you can get their craft beer and specialty wines and cocktails. This is next to Graffiti Restro Cafe + Wine Bar in Jaco Walk.
Ohana Sushi Tapas Bar
For tasty (and beautiful) sushi, Ohana is the place to go. This tapas restaurant has innovative sushi made from the local fresh catch and also some other dishes for the non-sushi eaters. Other options include calamari, tempura shrimp, spring rolls, and skewers with meat, fish, or veggies. On a side street off Ave. Pastor Diaz going to the beach (look for a billboard for Hicaco Restaurant).
Sushi at Home
For more affordable, but still yummy, sushi, there’s Sushi at Home. This restaurant is a little hidden. It’s on the second floor of a plaza in the middle of Jaco, with two different areas for seating. One is open air and the other, on the front of the building, is nicely air conditioned. They have a huge sushi menu and options for noodle and rice bowls. Located about a block south of POPs, past Max X Menos and next to AXR ATV company.
The best thing about El Hicaco is its location. It fronts the beach so you can see and hear the waves while you dine. This seafood restaurant is on the upscale side and you do pay a little more for the view, but it’s still worth a visit. The atmosphere is contemporary and the service is very good. We’ve always enjoyed our meals here. Also has a small, nicely shaded playground that’s a hit with the kids. Located on the southern end of town, about a block from Mas X Menos grocery store.
Panaderia Artesanal is a bakery that’s a great stop for breakfast or lunch. Homemade quiche, bagels, empanadas, cookies, and pastries are quick options, and they also make sandwiches, wraps, or breakfast plates with quality ingredients. $5-12. Northern end of Ave. Pastor Diaz in the Palm Plaza. Across from Economy Rent a Car.
Heladeria El Barco
Ice-cream lovers will want to check out Heladeria El Barco. One of our good friends is obsessed with ice cream, and he never misses a stop here when he’s in town. This place has some of the best homemade gelato and ice-cream around. You can choose from more than 20 flavors and load up on toppings, or try a traditional Churchill (shaved ice with fruit syrup and condensed milk) or even a waffle sundae. Ave. Pastor Diaz, a few doors south of POPS.
For traditional specialties like rice with chicken, olla de carne (Costa Rican beef stew), and even beef tongue, head to Rustico. This super simple soda serves up tasty plates of rice, beans, meats, and sides. It’s buffet style so you just go up and order whatever looks good. This place is very popular with locals so there’s usually a line. $5-8 with a drink. On a side street off Ave. Pastor Diaz going to the beach (look for a billboard for Hicaco Restaurant).
Vida Hermosa (Playa Hermosa)
This restaurant isn’t right in Jaco, but we couldn’t leave it out. Vida Hermosa sits on Playa Hermosa, a well-known surfing beach about 10 minutes south. The open-air atmosphere gives a beach-bar vibe (you can sit inside or out on the sand under the palm trees), but the food is more refined and delicious. Menu items include burgers, sandwiches, pasta, wraps, rice bowls, and a variety of seafood dishes. They also have a great cocktail list and some craft beer on tap.
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With so many good options it’s hard to keep this list short, but those are our top picks for restaurants in Jaco.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Jaco? Let us know in the comments below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
Jaco: Costa Rica’s Booming Beach Town – Our destination guide is loaded with tips for visiting Jaco, including where to stay and what to do.
Esterillos Oeste: Surfing, Serenity, and La Siren – Just 25 minutes south of Jaco’s busy strip is the quiet surfing town of Esterillos Oeste. This is the perfect spot to find a palm tree and relax.
Monteverde, Costa Rica: A Forest in the Clouds – Looking to explore the cloud forest from the beach? Monteverde is a short trip away and worth a couple of nights to see a completely different ecosystem. Bring a jacket because it can get chilly compared to Jaco!