Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide

Last Updated: September 30, 2019

Deciding where to eat in Manuel Antonio can be overwhelming. With over 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 several 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.

Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

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.

Emilio’s Cafe

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. For breakfast, the eggs benedict and brioche French toast are popular, and for lunch, we love the simple sandwiches made with quality ingredients. Homemade baked goods and desserts go great alongside their rich coffee. Often has jazz or Latin music. Located right before Hotel Mariposa on the road leading to Punta Quepos.

Emilio's - an eclectic cafe in Manuel Antonio | Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Tuna Burger at Emilio’s Cafe

Falafel Bar

You wouldn’t expect to find authentic Middle Eastern cuisine in Central America, but Falafel Bar has it. Their falafel is crispy and light, and made even better when combined with amazing hummus and tahini. Be sure to load up on the fresh pickled veggies from the salad bar. We’ve never strayed from the falafel, but they also have shawarma and kabobs that are supposed to be equally as good. Located at the top of the hill across the street from Tulemar Resort.

Buena Vista Beach Club Bar & Grill

Buena Vista Beach Club Bar & Grill is true to its name and located right on Playa Espadilla, the main beach in Manuel Antonio. From your table on the sand, you can take in the ocean breeze while sipping on a fruity cocktail. We love the location, but the service is wonderful too. The restaurant is run by friendly locals who will make sure you have a good time and get a great meal. They’re open for all 3 meals a day or you can just grab a drink at the outdoor rancho. Located at Buena Vista Beach Villas.

Manuel Antonio Restaurants - Buena Vista Beach Villas Restaurant
Tables right on the sand at Buena Vista Beach Club Bar and Grill

El Wagon

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, us included. The Caprichosa with proscuitto, salami, artichokes, and mushrooms is one of our favorites, 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.

Cafe Milagro - a longtime favorite in Manuel Antonio | Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
The comfortable garden patio at Cafe Milagro

Barba Roja

Barba Roja is one of the oldest restaurants in town and 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 good food and good vibes. The menu 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.

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.

Rafael’s Terrazas

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.

Rafael's Terrazas - good food and a great view | Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Seafood Pasta at Rafael’s Terrazas

El Avion

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.

Eating in an old military plane at El Avion | Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
The old military plane at El Avion is hard to miss on the main road in Manuel Antonio.

Restaurants at Marina Pez Vela

The marina in Quepos opens up even more opportunities for fabulous food. One of the most popular restaurants at this seaside locale is Z Gastropub. Z offers primarily seafood dishes, but also has mouthwatering steak and a few different kinds of burgers. 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. 

Sunrice serves healthy Asian food, and we have heard from friends who have 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.

The hot new marina in Quepos | Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Z Gastrobar at the Marina

Mar Luna

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.

Marlin

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.

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 or Soda Sanchez. These simple restaurants have delicious food at a very affordable price. Restaurant Junior is located one block south of the bus station. Take a left at Restorante L’Angolo and it’s on the left-hand side. Soda Sanchez is one block up the road from the bus station, across from BCR bank and the Gollo store.

Best Local Restaurants near Manuel Antonio | Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
A typical Costa Rican casado

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.

Last Updated: September 30, 2019

What is your favorite restaurant in Manuel Antonio? Let us know in the comments below. 

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 TryCeviche, 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.

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31 Comments

  1. Great post! Visited Manuel Antonio this past July and fell in love. Ate at Marlin and Las Gemelas…Las Gemelas was absolutely amazing!! The owner was super fun and the drinks are so pretty and unique. Across from the main beach

      1. Gemelas is good, so is El Sol right across from the bus stop on the beach. Agua Azul has good food and is an amazing sunset spot on the hill.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I always love reading your posts about CR. Last year I lived in Costa Rica for six months, one week of which was spent in Manuel Antonio. Absolutely beautiful place, I loved Kapi Kapi, an excellent place to eat, albeit a little extravagant (but worth the splurge for a special occasion). Delicious thai inspired dishes and great drinks. There is also a great breakfast burrito and fresh juice stand located at hostel Vista Serena.

    1. Our
      Little town esterillos Oeste has one of the best restaurants in the country! Los Almendros. They have amazing pad Thai with tofu chicken or shrimp! Delish as were from NY!

      1. WE live in Esterillos Este, and totally agree that if you are looking to eat out in our area, Los Almendros is great. It is one of our favorites. I also love the Pad Thai with shrimp!

  3. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    We will be visiting MA with our two boys in just over a month. We’ll be eating in for some of our meals, but would love your opinion on the best restaurants to take kids. We love eating at the local haunts (not touristy). Do you have a top 3 or 5 that serve yummy food and are economical?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Vanessa, Most of the non-touristy local places are in Quepos next to Manuel Antonio. We really like Restaurant Junior across from the bus station and Soda Sanchez across from the Gollo on the same street. Marisquería Velamar is great too for seafood. These are more simple restaurants but the food is good and they are very affordable.

  4. Hi Jenn and Matt–
    Thank you for the wonderful advice. We will be coming to Costa Rica (Arenal and MA) in late April for a special birthday. Can you recommend a nice restaurant for just the two of us? Also, do we need to make reservations?

    1. Hi Crissy, We would say La Luna at the Gaia Hotel or Gabriella’s at the Quepos Marina (both are covered above). They have really great food and a romantic atmosphere. And, yes, make a reservation just in case.

  5. Hi Matt and Jenn,

    We used your guide extensively for our 2 week trip to Tamarindo in March and it was a huge help. We are planning a trip to Manuel Antonio and would like some advice regarding whether to find accommodation near the beach or on the hill. We will not have a car so we’d like to be close to the restaurants and bars but also not too far from the beach, if possible. Where are most of the restaurants? How long is the walk to the main beach from the hill? We are planning on getting a place with Airbnb or similar so that might impact our choice as well. Finally, we are thinking of going in November but are wondering how much sun and rain to expect. Would we be better off to go to Puerto Viejo or Manzanillo in November and go to MA next March? Thanks for all your help.

    1. Hi Denise, If you won’t have a car, it’s better to stay down by the beach. There are a good handful of restaurants there as well as the national park and you can easily take the local bus or a cab if you want to go to a different restaurant. Most of the hotels in the hill are at least a 15 minute walk down a steep hill. But if you find that most vacation rentals are on the hill, you could see if there’s something in the area of Hotel Mariposa. That area near the top of the hill is close to several restaurants and small markets.

      Most years, Manuel Antonio isn’t too rainy in November and the Caribbean side is the opposite so you are better off sticking to your original plan. You can read our Weather post for more information.

  6. Hi I recently stayed in Quepos and found the most wonderful cake shop run by a local couple. They are starting to sell their cakes in mini price super market also. Their shop was on the corner of Calle 2 and avenida 3. I’m trying to track down its name. Do you know it?

  7. Hi Jenn and Matt, our first trip to costa rica in November with 10 month old twins. Thanks so much for your website it is very helpful! What restaurants are family friendly? and also high chairs available. we are thinking of renting a car

    1. Hi Rebecca, I think you will find that most restaurants in Costa Rica, even nice ones, are family friendly. The culture loves children! Some particularly family-friendly options are El Avion, Emilio’s, Cafe Milagro, and any of the places down by the beach. Most restaurants have a more relaxed, outdoor setting so a little noise from a couple of babies doesn’t usually matter 🙂 High chairs are usually, but not always, available. You should read our Traveling with a Baby post for more on what to expect. And if you do decide to rent a car, be sure to check out our discount.

      1. Thank you for the response Jenn and Matt. Traveling with baby is helpful. We are going to San Manuel Antonio on November 10, we read that it will be a rainy season? since you have hiked and travel with your little one, any recommendations around San Manuel? My husband would like to hike the hanging bridges and visit La Fortunate falls? Are the places you entioned 7 off beaten path okay and safe to take our one year old twins?

        https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/7-things-to-do-manuel-Antonio

        1. Hi Rebecca, Yes, it will be rainy season when you visit but it usually starts to let up in November. Manuel Antonio National Park would be good with your kids because the trails are fairly easy and one of the beaches inside the park has calm water. Everything in our Off the Beaten Path post would be fine for your family, except I wouldn’t venture the drive to La Iguana Chocolate because it is quite far and remote. If you’re going to La Fortuna, that would be a good option for a waterfall to see. You would just have to carry them down and up the 500 stairs to reach the waterfall. There’s also a really nice little waterfall that is good for kids in the town of Uvita (1 hr south). The Uvita Waterfall is only a 2 min hike down and has a river you could wade in (be careful if it has just rained recently because the water will be higher/faster). You could also do a boat tour at Isla Damas to see wildlife like monkeys. This is a mangrove estuary outside Manuel Antonio that has a lot of wildlife. We recently went on this with our son and he really enjoyed it. Let us know if you need a recommendation for a tour company. We can make bookings for just about any tour, including the one at Isla Damas.

          1. Hello Matt and Jenn

            Thank you so much for the info. We have been so busy working and just realized we do have the upcoming trip to CR. I have a quick question, is there a place to rent pool gate or stairs gate? We are renting a villa in Manuel Antonio and it is a four story on a cliff and our master suite and pool on first level which is a concern with our now walking twin babies and the openness of the pool? Tia
            Michael

          2. Hi Michael, It is somewhat difficult to find baby gates here, especially outside of San Jose. One option is to ask the person you are renting through if they can provide one or have a suggestion for where to get one locally. You could try a store called Mini Price Mart in downtown Quepos, near Manuel Antonio. That may or may not have one. In our own search for these, we’ve had the best luck in San Jose, if you’re flying into that airport. EPA (big box store similar to Home Depot) and Alyss, both off Highway 27 in Escazu have them, and you can sometimes find them in baby stores too (the Multiplaza Mall). You should also check out our post about Traveling with a Baby in CR if you haven’t already.

  8. Hi Jenn and Matt-

    We’ll be renting a house in Quepos in July and are looking for a good in-house option for one night. Do you have recommendations for a chef that will come cook for a group of 11 (with two kids under 4) or a restaurant that does catering or carry out?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Kay, There are people who offer chef services in Manuel Antonio (we have seen them advertising), but we can’t vouch for them since we haven’t tried their food. We would ask the person you’re renting the house from. They should have some local contacts for you. Lots of the restaurants do carry out and many deliver too (delivery is called express here). For something casual, you could get pizza at El Wagon or there’s Emilio’s. Emilio’s has more simple kid-friendly sandwiches but also interesting dishes like curries, octopus, tuna, etc.

  9. Love your site! fun to read….We will be visiting MA this November with our 8 year old daughter. My daughter and I are vegetarians that eat no egg, fish or gelatin. My husband will eat anything, LOL Where is a good place to eat for us girls?

    1. Hi Jamey, I think Cafe Milagro has some vegan options and I know they have vegetarian dishes. Also check out the menu at Emilio’s Cafe and you could get pizza at El Wagon if you do cheese. Falafel Bar would probably work, and of course there’s pasta at Victoria’s. Hope that gets you started!

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