Far from so-called civilization, in a remote corner of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, El Gavilán Restaurant invites visitors to experience an original gourmet farm-to-table dining experience at the luxury eco lodge Playa Cativo.
One of only a clutch of exclusive resorts on Golfo Dulce accessible only by boat, Playa Cativo is a beachfront boutique hotel set on 1,000 acres of private rainforest, surrounded by the Piedras Blancas National Park. A vast array of wildlife abounds here, and humpback whales and a school of dolphins are known to frolic in the tranquil surrounding waters.
Hand-crafted cuisine at El Gavilan Restaurant — Photo courtesy of Playa Cativo
Playa Cativo grows most of El Gavilán's food on it own organic farm, modeled after the farm at the resort's sister property: Goodstone Inn & Restaurant in Middleburg, Va. The long list of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs includes organic tomatoes, yucca, green beans, plantains, pineapples, coconuts, papayas, mangos and star fruit, providing the chef with a colorful cornucopia of ingredients all year long.
Victor Castaneda, the executive chef who was born in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, creates a wide range of mouth-watering dishes that are handcrafted and healthy works of art on a plate. Original recipes and Costa Rican favorites like ceviche and casados round out a full menu that offers plenty of options for vegetarians, as well as grass-feed beef, free-range chicken and locally caught seafood, too.
To drink, a wine list offers lots of options for pairing with most every dish. There's Costa Rican craft beer, and signature cocktails made with fresh organic fruits are undeniably refreshing on hot days. They can be made "virgin" for the kids.
The restaurant's named for a large black sparrow hawk with a sharp beak that's designed to break shells. Gavilán can be spotted hunting for snails from very high up in the air, and the appearance of the black and white owl, Scarlet Macaw, Orange-collared Manakin and Turquoise Cotinga may likely accentuate the dining experience.
Getting to El Gavilán Restaurant requires some planning, but the experience is guaranteed to be worth the trip. From San Jose, travel five to seven hours by road (or take a one-hour flight on modern puddle jumpers Sansas and Nature Air) to Puerto Jimenez or Golfito, then enjoy a scenic 25-minute boat ride to Golfo Dulce, courtesy of Playa Cativo.
El Gavilán Restaurant is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Among the many perks for guests of Playa Cativo are the included three meals a day at El Gavilán Restaurant.