Best 8 Restaurants In Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

For a fine dining experience in Santa Teresa, the Ylang Ylang is a fantastic choice, especially with the beachfront views and wide menu options to accommodate both adults and kids. If you’re on a budget, consider Chicken Joe’s, while the La Doña Pizzeria would be the best choice to eat Pizza at Santa Teresa. 

Santa Teresa has many options for eating out. Whether you’re looking for BBQ joints, vegan cafes, cliff-side dining, or even casual beach bars, there’s a spot for every preference. 

I recently stayed at the Mint Hotel in Santa Teresa for a few weeks and was interested in learning about the best local restaurants from those who had eaten there before.

After prolonged research and visiting some of the most recommended places, I have created this guide to show you eight of the best restaurants in Santa Teresa.

I’ll show you their addresses, budget ranges, and the quality of service you can expect from each of these restaurants beyond what you see on Instagram. 

Key Takeaways

In case you’re in a hurry and need to make a quick decision, here’s a summary of my top recommendations of restaurants to visit in Santa Teresa and the purpose for which they each serve best. 

Purpose  The Best Restaurants in Santa Teresa Address
The restaurant offers the best view and is suitable for families. Ylang Ylang  10-12 minute walk on the beach north of Montezuma at the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort, Montezuma, Costa Rica
The best restaurants for dinner Katana 600 m north of the main crossroads.
The Best Restaurants for Local Meals El Tercer Ojo, Costa Rica Calle las Piedras is next to Hotel Rustico.
Restaurants with the best outdoor seating The Somos Cafe Calle Cobano, Santa Teresa 60111, Costa Rica
The Best Restaurants for Seafood Manzú Restaurant 150 M Noroeste Super Costa Puntarenas Hotel Nantipa, Santa Teresa.
The best romantic beachfront restaurant Banana Beach Villa Bonita Drive.
Best Restaurants on a Budget Chicken Joe’s Main Road across from Soccer Field, Santa Teresa.
The best restaurants for pizza  La Doña Pizzeria  Contiguo Cruce, Mal Pais.

 

1. Ylang-Ylang Restaurant

  • Address: 10-12 minute walk on the beach north of Montezuma at the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort, Montezuma, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: breakfast: 7–10 am; lunch: 10–5 pm; dinner: 5-8 pm; happy hour: 3-5:30 pm.

If I could recommend only one restaurant for a good time in Santa Teresa, it would be the Ylang Ylang restaurant, especially because of its stunning views. 

They are focused on seafood, sushi, Costa Rican, and international dishes. But they also provide special diets with vegetarian-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free options.

This place consistently serves freshly made, delicious food. They also have good options for our three kids. 

Plus, the setting and decor are lovely.

Pro Tip:

  • It’s a good idea to book ahead because they make everything fresh and they want to avoid long waits for reservations. 

What I like about this place

  • The view is fantastic. 
  • Good drinks
  • Most portion sizes are decent for the price. 
  • The wine list is impressive. 

What I don’t like about this place

  • None so far.

2. Katana

  • Opening hours: 6–10 p.m. every day
  • Menu
  • Budget range: Starting from $7 to $40

Katana Asian Cuisine restaurant only opens for dinner and serves up a mix of Asian flavors, featuring tasty dishes like their special pad thai, fresh sushi, butter chicken, and gyoza.

If you’re into Asian cuisine, you’ll be thrilled with everything this beautiful restaurant offers. I tried the volcano roll, butter chicken, and bao, and the portions were generous with unique flavors.

But it’s not just the food that makes this place stand out. The outdoor patio is like a bit of jungle paradise, surrounded by lush greenery and twinkling lights. 

Their cocktail menu is just as creative and thoughtful as their dishes.

Make reservations in advance, especially if you have a group of four or more.

What I like about this place

  • It has a good vibe, a pleasant atmosphere, and chill-out music.
  • A well-designed and classy interior. 
  • Cocktails are good. 

What I don’t like about this place

  • It’s a bit more pricey than the standard Costa Rican eatery but well worth the expense.

3. El Tercer Ojo, Costa Rica

  • Address: Calle las Piedras, next to Hotel Rustico.
  • Opening hours: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

If you’re looking for a restaurant in Santa Teresa where you can enjoy local cuisine, look no further than El Tercer Ojo. 

They serve local dishes and Caribbean and Latin cuisine as well. 

The venue is charming and has live music, making it a peaceful place to enjoy dinner while listening to Caribbean tunes. I suggest trying the beef tacos and fish tacos—they’re delicious! 

When you check their menu, you’ll realize that the prices are about what you’d expect in Santa Teresa, but you definitely get your money’s worth. 

What I like about this place

  • Warm and friendly environment 
  • It was here that I had the best margaritas in Costa Rica so far.
  • Ideal for local dishes 

What I don’t like about this place

  • There is nothing as extraordinary as the 5-star rating you see online. It’s perfectly fine for a casual, easy lunch if you are strolling in off the beach, but that doesn’t equate to the exaggerated hype it gets online.

4. The Somos Cafe

  • Address: Calle Cobano, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: 7:30 a.m.–midnight

Sometimes, choosing the best restaurants to visit in a place like Santa Teresa goes beyond the food experience. 

If you want somewhere outdoorsy with a dining setting outside and the ambiance that comes with it, look at Somos Cafe. 

During the day, it’s an ideal spot to unwind or work on a laptop; by night, it becomes an extremely lively establishment with a drink-oriented atmosphere.

Try the banh mi ga (a delicious chicken sandwich with salad), the breakfast burrito, and their excellent coffees.

The burger served here also slaps. 

What I like about this place

  • I like the setting—walking into a vast, private, tricked-out garden with a massive Airstream trailer parked in the middle of it all.
  • Big, overstuffed couches handle peeps who wait for tables.
  •  The surf shop is open late for browsing!
  • A fun place to hang out

What I don’t like about this place

  • More heavy on ambiance than food

5. Manzú Restaurant

  • Address: 150 M Noroeste Super Costa Puntarenas Hotel Nantipa, Santa Teresa.
  • Opening hours: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.

For seafood cravings, the best stop in Santa Teresa is the Mazu Restaurant. Of course, their cuisine also extends to Latin, Central American, Costa Rican, and contemporary, but seafood is the most praised dish here, especially the seafood risotto. 

The prices are incredibly low compared to the quality of the food. The tuna dish was outstanding, and it was only $16. 

And let’s not forget about the location—it’s right by the beach, making it the perfect spot for enjoying a sunset drink.

What I like about this place

  • Fantastic seafood options at affordable prices.
  • Beach view to watch the sunset
  • The best part of Nantipa Hotel

What I don’t like about this place

  • I haven’t observed any so far.

6. Banana Beach

  • Address: Villa Bonita Drive, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: 7.30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Budget range: Starts from $12 to $30

I totally recommend Banana Beach Restaurant, especially for couples in Santa Teresa looking for a romantic place to eat with a beachfront ambiance. 

The food is excellent, the cocktails are fine, and you can relax under palm trees. Plus, you might even have hermit crabs joining you at your table—it’s quite an experience! 

You might even catch some live music if you’re lucky.

With amazing beach views, it’s a fun spot for the whole family or a romantic date. 

The food is decent, but the service is just okay—maybe a C at best. 

What I like about this place

  • Kids-friendly area with a playground. 
  • Good place for morning coffee and drinks.
  • The romantic environment at night, with its ambiance, makes surfboards available for surfing.

What I don’t like about this place

  • Not for someone on a really tight budget.

7. Chicken Joe’s

  • Address: Main Road across from Soccer Field, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
  • Opening hours: 12–9 p.m. 
  • Website
  • Budget range: Starting from $4 to $21

It can be hard to find a place that serves quality food at cheap prices. This is where Chicken Joe’s comes in. It’s a perfect restaurant in Santa Teresa for those on a tight budget, especially if you’re craving chicken. 

There were many good options on the menu, but I chose the fish and chicken tacos. The yuca fries were outstanding—perfectly crispy with just the right amount of salt. 

The tacos looked just like they did in the photos. 

The chicken was freshly sliced breast meat, and the fish was lightly breaded Mahi Mahi (dorado). They weren’t too spicy, and the portions were satisfying.

It felt great to support a local, family-owned business and be appreciated for being their customer.

What I like about this place

  • Excellent local food, with the best service. 
  • Prices are lower compared to other restaurants in Playa Santa Teresa.

What I don’t like about this place

  • Some people still question the prices of chicken, as they seem high for a budget-friendly restaurant.

8. La Doña Pizzeria 

  • Address: Contiguo Cruce, Mal Pais
  • Opening hours: 5:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m. (Tuesday–Sunday)
  • Website
  • Budget range: Starting from $2 to $13.

La Doña is hands down the top spot for pizza in town. They cook their pizzas to perfection in a traditional brick oven.

My husband and I had a fantastic dinner here. The place’s décor truly impressed us. We sat in a big booth and enjoyed looking at all the decorations. To start, we had the zucchini carpaccio.

Their pizza style is thin and light, so you can quickly finish a whole pie by yourself. Try the classic pepperoni pizza along with some seasonal ravioli!

What I like about this place

  • Honestly, the best pizza I’ve ever had (perhaps ever, but definitely outside of Italy!) 
  • They have an outdoor brick oven.

What I don’t like about this place

  • It’s located around the south end of Santa Teresa. The distance might be longer, depending on where you’re staying.

What are the best things to do in Santa Teresa? 

I suggest visiting the Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco as the best activity to do in Santa Teresa. It’s only a 25-minute ride away by taxi or rental vehicle. There’s a lovely 5-kilometer hike to the beach through the forest, and it’s safe even if you’re alone.

Afterward, you can head to Cabuya, a gorgeous white sand beach in front of the Hotel Cabo Blanco.

Santa Teresa is great because it’s close to Manzanillo, Cóbano, Montezuma, Malpais, and Tambor. 

From Montezuma, you can book day tours to Curú Refugio Nacional, Isla Tortuga, and more. I’ve done these tours alone and still had a great time.

In Santa Teresa, you can take a long stroll on the beach, swim in the rock pools, or visit the beach bars of any hotel, as they are open to the public. 

There are many other things to do, and you can draw inspiration from posts on Instagram. For example, I like the suggestions in this Instagram reel: 

 

Pro Tip: 

  • Remember to bring plenty of water, insect repellent, and sunscreen! 
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Avoid going out alone after 9 p.m., especially in remote areas.

Final Take on Santa Teresa’s Best Restaurants

Santa Teresa is a really excellent place, especially for backpackers, so you’ll meet plenty of other solo travelers here. To have the best dining experience, you have to be sure of what you want. 

While I’d totally recommend Katana for any purpose, some other spots do well for specific purposes. If you need quality seafood, manzu is your best bet. On the other hand, for romantic beachfront settings, Banana Beach is a solid choice. 

I hope you find this guide helpful. 

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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