Best Restaurants in La Fortuna, Costa Rica: An Arenal Restaurant Guide

three tacos, hamburger and two fruit smoothies on a table at one of the best restaurants in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Tacos, Burger and Fresh Juices at Mercadito Arenal

Looking for the best restaurants in La Fortuna, Costa Rica? This foodie’s got you covered.

With the influx of visitors to this once-sleepy farming village, La Fortuna restaurants popped up in all shapes and sizes. The best restaurants in La Fortuna Costa Rica have something for every appetite and budget. During my 2 month Costa Rica road trip, I ate at them all (and more than once)!

From healthy to indulgent, Asian to Western, and everything in between. I even had one of the best smoothie bowls in my life in La Fortuna, and that’s saying a lot since I am based in Bali for part of the year.

As a full-time traveller and self-declared ‘foodie’, I visited all the top restaurants La Fortuna has on offer. I have whittled it down to this stellar list of restaurants in this Arenal restaurant guide below.

This detailed guide on the best restaurants La Fortuna Costa Rica will also give you information on the best La Fortuna cooking classes, foods to try, and top tips on how to dine in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Let’s dig in!

best restaurants in la fortuna costa rica with grilled steak and mashed potatoes on a round plate with glass of red wine behind
Ribeye Steak at El Jardin de Frida – don’t worry, this guide has vegan options, too!

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Map of Best Restaurants in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Most La Fortuna Costa Rica restaurants will be located in the downtown core of La Fortuna, or on the outskirts a short distance away

It is important to note that no restaurants in this Arenal restaurant guide are located in Nuevo Arenal, a small village west of La Fortuna and are all within walking distance of your downtown La Fortuna hotel.

Click on the best La Fortuna restaurants Costa Rica map below to be taken to an interactive version of My Google Maps giving you the top spots on where to eat in La Fortuna Costa Rica.

digital map of best restaurants in La Fortuna

Healthy Restaurants in La Fortuna

The La Fortuna restaurants in this section share a health-forward approach to their menu. Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore and organic options abound. Honestly, eating through these restaurants was one of my favourite things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

storefront with sign that reads 'organico fortuna' with plants, common of restaurants la fortuna has to offer

Organico Fortuna is my top pick for the best restaurant La Fortuna Costa Rica has to offer in terms of healthy cuisine. This was one of my favourite places to eat in La Fortuna for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Enter into the open-air restaurant located a block from the main centre of downtown La Fortuna, into a whitewashed space, with light wood accents and twinkly lights (if you visit at night). At the front are several tables to choose from with additional seating towards the back. 

To the side, you will see the small coffee bar and organic market. I picked up a few things from the market like healthy snack bars for our many day trips in La Fortuna. 

la fortuna restaurants offer healthy menus with large salad bowls and red drinks on a wooden table

The menu at Organico Fortuna offers gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore menu options, all made with health and well-being in mind. Not to say there aren’t a few indulgent choices on the menu like the Nachos Arenal (a popular menu item), but you will have the most range of healthy meal options at Organico Fortuna.

Breakfast is served from 9AM – 11AM and lunch and dinner from 11AM onward. I really enjoyed a couple of the salad bowls and the choice of iced tea. My partner loved the Nachos Arenal and Chifrijo. Organico Fortuna is at the top of the list of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in La Fortuna Costa Rica.

Type of Cuisine | Healthy Global
Average Menu Price | ~$12 USD per meal
Opening Hours | 9AM – 9PM Daily

Where | Organico Fortuna

open air dining at El Chante Verde, one of the best restaurants la fortuna offers with hanging greenery

Situated along the road to La Fortuna Waterfall, a little off the beaten path of downtown La Fortuna, El Chante Verde offers a beautiful interior and menu. With draping greenery and open-air seating, you can find uncovered and covered seating to suit the weather.

Global cuisine is on offer at this best restaurant in La Fortuna Costa Rica. With options from ceviche (really yum!), to pad thai, to falafel and everything in between

where to eat in la fortuna costa rica with asian inspired dishes and smoothies on wood tabletop

While the menu doesn’t offer the most traditional version of each dish (other than the local Costa Rican items) the setting alone is a reason to visit El Chante Verde (meaning ‘the green song’ in English). 

I think it’s important to note that the hours of operation at El Chante Verde are a little funky. Google notes them as this:

Friday – Sundays: 8 – 11AM, and 12 – 9PM
Monday – Wednesday: 11:30AM – 9PM
Thursday: 12 – 9PM

I arrived at the restaurant within these hours and the place was closed. So I would advise calling the restaurant beforehand to make sure they are open. El Chande Verde can be reached at +506 2479 7097.

A great place to stop after your visit to La Fortuna Waterfall.

Type of Cuisine | Healthy Global 
Average Menu Price | ~$10 USD per meal
Opening Hours | Call the restaurant for the latest hours of operation

Where | El Chante Verde

Top La Fortuna Restaurants for Breakfast + Goodies

Where is the best breakfast in La Fortuna Costa Rica, you may ask? I’ve listed my top picks here which include the best places to eat La Fortuna that offer bomb smoothie bowls, top-notch coffee, and a bit of sweet indulgence. 

Scroll down to my section on Costa Rican fare for a couple of great typical breakfast spots that offer a more savoury choice.

Gosh, if I had it my way, Jungle Bowls would be a massive global chain so I could get their smoothie bowls all over the world. But what makes Jungle Bowls so special is the quality and care that goes into making each beautiful bowl. 

The owners have made the mission here ‘plant-based wellness’, and designed each bowl packed full of superfoods. By the way, Michelle and Andrea handcraft every single bowl themselves, which means you need to enlist some patience while waiting for your order.

You’ll find every hippie, hipster, family and their dog lined up outside of Jungle Bowls. The two smoothie bowls I had here were the best smoothie bowls I’ve had in my life, and that’s saying a lot since I home base in Bali. 

outdoor wood tables at vegetarian restaurants in la fortuna costa rica

Do note that seating here is very limited with only a couple of stooled tables out front. You will likely have to take your smoothie bowl to go.

The bowls here are all-natural, nutritious, organic and vegan. Most definitely on the top of my list for best restaurants La Fortuna Costa Rica has to get your first meal of the day under your belt.

Type of Cuisine | Superfood Smoothie Bowl
Average Menu Price | $13 USD a bowl (believe me, it’s worth it)
Opening Hours | 9:30AM – 6:30PM Daily

Where | Jungle Bowls

restaurants in la fortuna costa rica with wood siding and patio dining on a blue day

Arabigos Coffee House is located in the core of downtown La Fortuna and is a popular coffee spot. While I wouldn’t say Arabigos is one of the best places to eat in La Fortuna, it sure tops my list of the best coffee in La Fortuna, for sure. 

The quality of the coffee and the knowledge of the staff is what granted this cafe a spot on my La Fortuna best restaurants list. 

I chatted with the manager a bit about all the different types of extraction methods for making coffee (you can choose one when you order), and it was an interesting conversation. 

Although the beans themselves come from the neighbouring Valle Central region in Costa Rica and other regions throughout the country, they choose only the highest quality to roast on site.

healty breakfast options at some of the best restaurant la fortuna has

I also picked up a bag of freshly ground coffee here for my coffeemaker back in my La Fortuna hotel since I stayed for two weeks, but you can also bring it home with you as gifts for family and friends or to keep for yourself. You can smell the different roasts and varieties before purchasing.

If La Fortuna is one of your only destinations in Costa Rica, I’d recommend partaking in a combination coffee & chocolate tour. I took the North Fields Craft Chocolate + Coffee Tour and absolutely loved it.

Average Coffee Price | $4.50 USD per coffee
Opening Hours | 7AM – 6PM Daily

Where | Arábigos Coffee House

gourmet chocolates with signage lie in a glass display case

One of the top bakeries in La Fortuna, Chocolate Fusion offers individual chocolates, ice cream, pastries like croissants and cinnamon rolls and a coffee bar to boot. 

This spot gets pretty full in the evenings with people sipping on coffee or hot chocolate and enjoying a little after-dinner delight. Or grab an ice cream cone to go and stroll through La Fortuna Central Park just across the street.

Opt for a box of chocolates to take home with you (or devour in your rental car) which you can choose individually. The chocolate is produced on their very own family cacao farm. There are so many different flavours to choose from and each flavour comes in white, milk and dark chocolate variation. 

Alternatively, pop into Chocolate Fusion for a pastry item and coffee before heading off to Rio Celeste for the day, hiking around Arenal Volcano or spanning the Mistico Hanging Bridges.

La Fortuna is also one of the best places in the country to visit a chocolate plantation. Get your chocolate fix at the top chocolate tour in Costa Rica, the Rainforest Chocolate Tour. The tasting at the end of this tour is oh-so-yummy! I loved the vanilla and chilli dark chocolate combo myself.

Type of Cuisine | Bakery
Opening Hours | 9AM – 8PM Daily

Where | Chocolate Fusion

Best Restaurants in La Fortuna for Casual Eats

This list of where to eat La Fortuna is created for all those travellers who need somewhere to grab a bite but don’t want to make a fuss. Best for down-to-earth lunch and dinner meals, you can find some great global options here to satisfy any appetite.

three tacos on a wood tray at the best restaurant in la fortuna costa rica

Mercadito Arenal is a food court-style establishment just a 10-minute walk west of La Fortuna Central Park down the main drag of Route 142. The food court features five different restaurants ranging from a cocktail bar, sushi, burgers, tacos and pizza

This is one of the best La Fortuna restaurants Costa Rica offers if you have different types of eaters in your group, or need to satisfy a family. I particularly enjoyed the fish tacos from Taconga Tacos, the burger from Canalla Street Food and the mixed juices from Voodoo. 

Each restaurant you order from will give you a beeper that will vibrate when your food is ready for pickup. 

Grab a seat in the upper seating area for great views of Arenal Volcano. Or opt to pull two tables together in the lower seating for larger parties. There is a good amount of parking on site for your rental car, or you can hoof it from the town centre.

Type of Cuisine | Western
Average Menu Price | $10 USD per meal
Opening Hours | 12PM – 10PM Daily, Tuesday Closed

Where | Mercadito Arenal

indian food sits on a round table at la fortuna best restaurants

Dig into a big bowl of curry or biryani. Situated along Route 142, you can find India Curry House a family-run spot offering all the Indian favourites. Choose from butter chicken, tikka masala, korma, vindaloo, and smaller bites like samosas and pakora. 

The menu also has a full page dedicated to vegetarian and vegan options, the vegan bowl and tofu curry are delicious. The biryani is full of fresh flavours and spices, too! 

My partner and I particularly enjoyed sitting outside on their small patio. They’ve put together a cute setup with a couple of hanging chairs and plenty of greenery. 

Do note, that because it’s a family business, you will be waiting a bit longer for your meal, but I guarantee you it’s worth it and earns its place on the best restaurants in Fortuna Costa Rica list.

Type of Cuisine | Indian
Average Menu Price | ~$12 USD per meal
Opening Hours | 11AM-3PM and 5PM – 10PM Daily, Closed Wednesdays

Where | India Curry House

la fortuna restaurants costa rica with wooden siding and red sign over outdoor dining

Kappa Sushi is a very popular restaurant in La Fortuna, and there is a reason for it. 

Serving large sushi platters in the shape of a boat, you can find some of the freshest seafood in La Fortuna here. You wouldn’t expect it since La Fortuna is located inland, but you definitely don’t have to worry about the quality of fish at this establishment. 

While I wouldn’t say it is the best sushi in the world (I hail from Vancouver with a huge Japanese influence), it is tasty and substantial and you will leave happy. Take a seat outside to watch the street life of La Fortuna just off the main square.

a variety of rolled sushi sit on a red boat dish on a tabletop
Terrible photo of the sushi boat, but you get the idea

Kappa Sushi also offers options for vegans including an entire section of vegan sushi and vegan ramen. A top choice for Arenal restaurants that offer great Japanese cuisine.  

Type of Cuisine | Japanese
Average Menu Price | $10 USD for sushi roll with 10 pieces 
Opening Hours | 12PM – 10PM Daily

Where | Kappa Sushi

Best La Fortuna Restaurants for
Fine Dining

Sometimes you just have to wine and dine, and that’s what this list of fine dining restaurants in La Fortuna is for. I visited the top two steakhouses in the town and both were nothing but amazing in terms of atmosphere and food quality.

Welcomed by a large mural of Frida herself, El Jardin de Frida offers some top-notch cuisine. But, where they shine is their steak and meat-focused menu items. Take a seat in their trendy open-air space and enjoy!

I went with the phenomenal ribeye with wine sauce with a side of mashed potatoes. My partner had the same but with the healthier roasted vegetable side dish. Combined with a couple of glasses of sangria, and we left fully satiated.

restaurants arenal costa rica with graphic interior with mural of frida kahlo

The share platters for two are also popular. They come with two or three types of meat, and varying sides like chips and salsa, mixed salad, roasted corn, and yucca fries. 

If you aren’t of the meat-eating persuasion, you can opt for one of their highly rated falafel dishes on their vegan and vegetarian menu, like their falafel burger. El Jardin de Frida also serves brunch items like the classic Gallo Pinto, french toast and pancakes from 12PM – 2PM daily. 

Type of Cuisine | Upscale Costa Rican Steakhouse
Average Menu Price | $13.50 USD for steak and side
Opening Hours | 12 PM – 9:30PM Daily, Closed Wednesdays

Where | El Jardin de Frida

outdoor bar in one of the best restaurants arenal offers for steak with sign that reads 'don rufino restaurante' on wood siding

Considered the top fine dining steakhouse-style restaurant Arenal Costa Rica has to offer, the Don Rufino restaurant is a higher-end establishment. 

The restaurant itself offers a beautiful wood interior design, a large 3-sided wood open-air bar top and wood dining tables with cloth placemats and freshly picked flower arrangements. 

It is highly recommended to reserve a table at Don Rufino as early as possible, as this is one of the most popular restaurants in La Fortuna. 

With 72 hours’ notice, the restaurant can provide six different prix fixe menus for groups with different budgets and tastes. The octopus, ceviche, roasted chicken and steak are top choices. 

The beef is grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, additive-free and raised naturally on a local Arenal farm. The ribeye dish with corn tamal, spinach, local blue cheese cannelloni and jus reduction was an absolute stunner.

Alternatively, saddle up to the expansive open-air bartop and enjoy a cocktail, wine or whiskey streetside.

Type of Cuisine | Steakhouse, Fine Dining
Average Menu Price | $27 USD for steak meal, $18 USD for mains
Opening Hours | 12PM – 10PM Daily, 12PM – 9PM Sundays

Where | Don Rufino

Top Restaurants in La Fortuna for
Local Costa Rican Fare

Please don’t leave La Fortuna without trying at least one beautiful meal at a local soda (typical Costa Rican restaurant). While the food at these establishments is quite a bit cheaper than the La Fortuna restaurants that offer global cuisine, they also offer a step above in terms of hospitality

I always choose to saddle up to the eating bar when I visit a soda if I can. This allows you to chat with the locals and watch your delicious food being thoughtfully prepared!

cheap eats la fortuna

My favourite local breakfast of my trip to Costa Rica, Soda Sabres Lulu is a family-run local fare spot in downtown La Fortuna. Opt to sit at the breakfast bar (this is what I did!), and watch the family make your breakfast from scratch. A traditional Gallo Pinto is the recommended option here

There’s no guessing why this local haunt has some of the best reviews in La Fortuna. Lulu herself and the main couple running the restaurant make you feel incredibly welcome and the food they serve is super fresh

The breakfast comes with rice, beans, eggs, local cheese, tortilla and fried plantain. I asked for my cheese to be fried which added another level of decadence. Also, add the avocado and bacon and you are set! Talk about cheap eats, the typical breakfast is only $4 USD.

Of course, Lulu also serves up some mean Casados and other delicious local fares for lunch. She closes the restaurant at 3PM. I also love that she opens at 7AM for all you early birds, me included!

Type of Cuisine | Costa Rican 
Average Menu Price | $4 USD for breakfast, $6 USD for lunch
Opening Hours | 7AM – 3PM Daily, 8AM – 2PM Saturday, Closed Sunday

Where | Soda Sabres Lulu

food la fortuna includes roast chicken and rice on round white plates

If you are asking around town for Costa Rican food in La Fortuna, you will likely hear about Soda La Hormiga. A cut above the rest, the open-air restaurant on a backstreet offers some of the best Casado and rice dishes

I enjoyed the Casado con Bistec (Casado with steak) recommended by my server, which came with rice, picadillo, salad and beans. Most definitely order yourself one of the natural juices, they are super fresh!

A great spot to eat lunch if you are headed for the bus station that is located next store.

Type of Cuisine | Costa Rican
Average Menu Price | $3.50 USD a meal
Opening Hours | 7AM – 4PM Daily, 7AM – 3PM Sunday

Where | Soda La Hormiga

Caribbean restaurants near la fortuna costa rica serving chicken, rice and greens on a square white plate

For something a little different (and delicious) from your typical Costa Rican cuisine found in the western part of the country, try Restaurante La Caribena

This red, green and yellow decorated restaurant was recommended by my Costa Rican tour guide that hails from the Caribean side of the country. He says it is his favourite restaurant for a taste of home. 

green, yellow and red sign reading 'rastaurant caribbean style food'

Now, how does Caribbean Costa Rican food differ? You’ll find more warm spices, chillies and coconut milk added to the traditional Casados and meals. For this reason, I highly recommend you to drive westerly the 5 minutes outside of town on Route 142, to try a meal here.

I opted for the Casado with chicken stew, and wow! It was like an explosion of flavours in my mouth. Complimented by one of the local craft beers they serve at Restaurante La Caribena, you have yourself a winning time.

Type of Cuisine | Caribbean Costa Rican
Average Menu Price | ~$9.50 USD per meal
Opening Hours | 11AM – 9PM Daily

Where | Restaurante La Caribena

people sitting at bars in la fortuna costa rica

I went to El Comalito Tortilleria for a typical Costa Rican breakfast. I sat at the coffee bar and watched them make my food from scratch and it was definitely delicious. But, what El Comalito Tortilleria is best known for is its homemade tacos and empanadas. 

The trio of tortillas is the top seller here, with 3 kinds of cheese, chicken and meat with melted cheese. It’s decadent and super satisfying. 

Type of Cuisine | Costa Rican
Average Menu Price | $3.75 USD per meal
Opening Hours | 7AM – 6PM Daily

Where | El Comalito Tortilleria

Best La Fortuna Cooking Classes
in Costa Rica

I imagine you’ve come across this blog of the best restaurants in La Fortuna because you are a bit of a foodie yourself. And for that reason, I’ve included the top cooking classes in La Fortuna here for your enjoyment. 

It’s the best way to get to know the Costa Rican culture through their food and get a fun hands-on experience in the process. The 3-course cooking class looks incredible. I regret not doing one.

Top Cooking Classes in La Fortuna
3-course Cooking Class
Tortilla Making and Cooking Class
Ceviche and Empanadas Cooking Class

Costa Rica La Fortuna Food
you Need to Try

You can’t visit Costa Rica without trying some of the best food in La Fortuna. Besides visiting the best places to eat in La Fortuna, you can scope out these recommended typical local fare items.


Served for lunch and dinner, this typical Costa Rican meal consists of a plate of rice, surrounded by side servings of beans, plantains, salad, tortilla and optional protein choices like beef, pork, chicken or fish.

The term Casado means ‘married’, just like the ingredients on the plate.

places to eat in la fortuna

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is the typical Costa Rican breakfast meal, meaning ‘spotted rooster’ for the speckled appearance of the beans mixed into the rice. Similar to the Casado, you will get a mixture of ingredients that all marry well together. 

The Gallo Pinto meal includes a rice and beans portion, usually mixed together, local cheese, eggs, fried plantain and a side of mayo. Common add-ins are bacon and avocado.

brown rice with rolled tortilla on a plate of Gallo Pinto


Patacones are essentially large flattened fried plantain that is used like a nacho chip and dipped into salsa, guacamole and beans. Can be eaten as a starter or main.

Fruit (Fresh + Smoothies)

Gosh, one of the best things about travelling to a tropical country is the plethora of juicy, ripe fruits available to you. We are talkin’ more recognizable fruits like mangoes, bananas, pineapple, watermelon and papayas, but also less familiar fruits like rambutans, mangosteens and passionfruit. 

Stop into any restaurant in La Fortuna, and they usually offer a fruit smoothie (Batidos). Do note that this isn’t the type of smoothie you are likely used to at home with a ton of ingredients. They are simple and straightforward. Juicy, ripe fruit and either water or milk. 

fruit stand offering common food in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Arroz con Leche

I had a very special cup of Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) purchased from a hard-working man on the side of the road on my trip back to La Fortuna from the Tabacon Hot Springs. For $1.50 USD you can enjoy a cup of rice pudding either sweetened with condensed milk or coconut milk.

roadside stand that serves Arroz con Leche near La Fortuna restaurants

Salsa Lizano

Everyone’s favourite condiment in Costa Rica goes on absolutely anything! I enjoyed it several times on my Gallo Pinto and Casados. 

Salsa Lizano is basically a brand of bottled salsa, except the consistency is smooth and not chunky. Most people stash a few of these bottles away in their suitcases to take home.

Tips for Eating at La Fortuna Restaurants

Tipping in Costa Rica

It seems like everywhere I travel in the world, the tipping culture is different. So, here I will explain what the culture is like in the best restaurants in La Fortuna Costa Rica. Unfortunately, they don’t all do the same thing. Make sure to check your bill for an automatic 10% service fee

If this isn’t added, you can feel free to leave a 10% tip in cash for your server. There is no way to add a tip via the credit card machine in Costa Rica. 

best restaurants in la fortuna arenal with wood picnic tables and bar
Mercadito Arenal

Can I drink Tap Water in Costa Rica?

It is always good to be cautious when it comes to drinking tap water in Costa Rica. Generally speaking, yes, you can drink tap water in most parts of the country, especially heavily touristic places like La Fortuna. 

I invested in a purifying reusable water bottle and it’s honestly the best thing since sliced bread. I drank, and purified, water all over the country and didn’t once buy a single-use plastic water bottle. I encourage you to do the same. 

The gentleman that ran my La Fortuna apartment building said the water was exceptionally clean, so take that as you will.

What are the Average Meal Costs?

I’ve included the average cost of menu items for each of the best restaurants in La Fortuna Costa Rica above in hopes you will be able to pick and choose based on budget and taste. 

Generally, a Costa Rican soda, or typical restaurant, will be the cheapest, with western and global cuisine being more expensive, similar to North American prices.

countertop at a La Fortuna soda with traditional Costa Rica breakfast and coffee in red cups
Soda Sabres Lulu

How do I Get my Check?

Even though Costa Rica is not an island, you can regard the service here as following the slow, island life vibe. The staff here want you to enjoy yourself, so they will never force the check on you. 

Simply wave down a server and ask for your check when you are ready to go. Do account for some time to wait for them to grab your check though, it won’t be speedy.

How Do I Pay?

As a tourist hotspot in Costa Rica, La Fortuna enjoys modern amenities like credit card payment at most, if not all, La Fortuna restaurants. 

Do note that only Visa and Mastercard are accepted, not American Express. You can also pay in Costa Rican Colones (CRC) or American Dollars (USD). But, if paying in USD cash, you will get CRC in change.

If you can, always pay in colones whether you are using cash or a credit card. The exchange rate given to you by your bank will likely be better than the exchange rate your server will be applying to your bill. 

1,000 CRC = $1.50 USD approximately. Always check the latest exchange rates before visiting.

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