As someone who has visited Tamarindo for 6+ months I have found a few places that are our go to for cheap and delicious meals! If you have been you will find that most of the sit down restaurants can be pricey. This is because most of the food is prepared for a tourist. But here is a list of the places to go if you are on a budget and want a quick bite to eat. These are mainly street food options that I would take the kids to for a quick lunch or dinner on the cheap.
This is a traditional tico(Costa Ricans call themselves ticos) meal. You can go to a soda (it’s the Costa Rican food restaurant) and purchase casados. At the sodas the prices can vary but typically between $5-8 a plate.
The food is normally some sort of meat chunks, stewed up in a sauce, or fried, over rice and beans with a little cabbage slaw salad and plantains. My favorite is the pollo en salsa – chicken in sauce. My husband loves the Picadillo, its chicken with potatoes in a sauce.
The best way to get a casado is from trunk lady! She is an older woman with her husband that prepares all of her food at home and then serves it out of her cars trunk! She is right in front of the policia van near the Diria casino. It sounds strange but it is awesome! The best part is its only $4! I can get away with buying 3 dishes for the whole family! Emma likes it so much she gets her own now! But when we were there a year ago I would share mine with the kids.
More people have set up shop like trunk lady, but we typically only choose them if the original trunk lady is MIA.
There is also a soda in villa real- near the soccer field – called Marcelas Marisquería. If you like seafood go here they have an amazing dish with rice and tons seafood its a bit pricey for a casado ($15ish or $20 for lobster) but if you went to a regular restaurant in Tamarindo and got it, it would be way more money! I got the special of the day for $5 and that was similar to flank
steak, i enjoyed it:)
We forgot to take a before pic of the lobster house special! Lol this is the after shot!
You will also see people with coolers full of food. The empanadas are traditional to central america. They have a cornmeal style crust filled with beans and rice or chicken and rice. These are awesome because they are only 500 colones! Which is $1 and one fills up a kid!
There is also a pasta shop(in conchal plaza next to the pharmacy) that sells more traditional empanadas. They have a pizza type crust with about 7 or 8 types to choose from! These are a bit more pricey at 900 colones (about $1.75) but they are the bomb! Emma loves the ham and cheese and Conner would chow on the chicken!
They also sell homemade raviolis(to take and cook or eat there) and pesto sauce! I highly recommend both and they are reasonably priced too!
Very good, delicious! That’s what we call her since it’s what she says as you walk by her! She is on the ocean side of the road near El Vaquero most evenings! She sells chicken, pork, and beef! Ask for the spicy sauce!! You will get a kabob and then on top they give you a corn tortilla, so you can make a taco if you want! They are so good and only $3 a kabob!
Subways sandwich of the day
It’s still more expensive than the USA but reasonable for it being imported!
They also have a special for a foot long in the evening! Emma loves Subway she has had it throughout the USA in Oregon, California, Texas, New York, (in a subway station) Panama and Costa Rica!
What’s funny is that they also serve breakfast but it includes beans and rice! I never tried it but it was reasonably priced and looked pretty good!