Manuel Antonio is the most visited national park in Costa Rica, hosting over 350,000 visitors annually.
It’s not hard to see why – with its lush rainforests and stunning beaches all in one place, it’s an ideal location to experience the natural beauty of the country.
The park covers a relatively small area so it’s difficult to miss the plethora of animal life that the country is so famous for.
White-faced monkeys, sloths and tropical birds can all be seen and heard in the dense rainforest which borders golden surf-friendly beaches.
Travelers tend to spend their nights in either the small town of Manuel Antonio or just down the road in the larger town of Quepos.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Manuel Antonio and Quepos:
Le Papillon at Hotel La Mariposa
This restaurant has arguably some of the best views in Costa Rica. Le Papillon is an open-air restaurant located at the Hotel La Mariposa, 1,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner looking out over the water and the national park.
The views are certainly spectacular and this is a popular spot for watching the sunset with a cocktail. The menu offers a range of international cuisines and would be a good choice for a special celebratory meal.
It’s not a cheap eatery but you’re paying for the scenery here. Reservations in the evenings are recommended.
The famous El Avión also lays claim to some of the best sunset views in the area.
This unique restaurant created inside an old airplane has a fascinating history. As part of the notorious Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, it was purchased for use in the US-backed plot to attack the Nicaraguan Sandinista government.
However, the Fairchild C-123 was never used after its sister plane was shot down over Nicaragua. Subsequently, the plane was abandoned at the airport in San Jose until its purchase in August 2000 with the view to becoming a restaurant.
After being transported to Manuel Antonio, it now sits proudly on the cliff-side, housing this unusual restaurant and various bars.
Seafood is their specialty but there’s plenty of other meat and vegetarian options. You can make a night of it here as the bars get lively in the evenings.
This unique location offers a prime photo opportunity whilst sipping a cocktail in the cockpit.
El Patio de Café Milagro
On the main road in Manuel Antonio, El Patio de Café Milagro is a café and restaurant serving excellent breakfasts, lunches and dinners ranging from light bites to full main meals.
The food is reasonably priced, with a lunchtime choice of healthy salads, sandwiches, tacos and quesadillas. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options to choose from.
Its spacious outdoor area and laidback atmosphere make it a good place for families with children during the day and there’s live music most evenings.
This independently owned company’s Café Milagro coffee is roasted just down the road in Quepos at their original location, so it’s also ideal for a coffee stop.
Their famous house blend even comes with bonus free refills. The little gift shop inside sells locally made souvenirs and crafts and you can pick yourself up some coffee beans to take home.
A less than ten minute drive from Manuel Antonio and with constant cheap buses running all throughout the day, the town of Quepos is a good choice to stay in for many travelers visiting this area.
It’s home to the Marina Pez Vela, famed for a series of fishing tournaments each year. It’s no surprise that you can find incredible seafood in the town.
Both a seafood shop and popular local restaurant, Marisquería Sabromar is located right on the water’s edge just north of the big colorful Quepos sign.
You can sit at the very back of the restaurant, literally a stone’s throw from the fishing boats which have just brought in the day’s catch. You can certainly smell the freshness – this is quality seafood and it’s delicious.
The local take on the famous South American dish of ceviche – fresh raw fish cured in citrus juice – is recommended and a good sharing starter.
Restaurante Club Banana
Quepos was once a banana plantation town populated by workers of the United Fruits Company.
The old factory, derelict and abandoned after its closure in the 1980s, can be found on the main road along the sea front. At the back of this street on a quiet residential track hides the Restaurante Club Banana.
This historical building was used for the plantation employees and still carries the vibe of an old-fashioned workers social club with the bar and restaurant in a large hall.
It’s a little out of the way and perhaps for this reason, it has maintained its popularity with locals young and old.
There are not many tourists to be found here so it’s an ideal place to practice your Spanish with the staff. They are really friendly and will go out of their way to make you feel at home.
Order yourself a large portion of reasonably priced typical Costa Rican food – such as a casado, rice and seafood, or fried chicken – then enjoy a beer and spend the evening playing American pool or other games on offer.
On some nights of the week, the place packs out with karaoke lovers from across town. It tends to get busier as the evening goes on and it’s a fun place to have dinner and hang out with some Ticos. Ask any local resident where to go for an authentic experience of life in Quepos, and Restaurante Club Banana will be the answer!
Best Restaurants in Manuel Antonio and Quepos
Manuel Antonio and Quepos are must-visit destinations on the Costa Rican map with the famous national park, excellent surfing opportunities and magnificent sunsets all right on your doorstep.
These are some of the best restaurants in Manuel Antonio and Quepos to try some local specialties, enjoy the views and make the most of your time here.