Dining Is Fun at Costa Rica's 10 Best Family-Friendly Restaurants

Costa Rica's best restaurants for families offer a chance for the tribe to indulge in a leisurely, fun dining experience of delicious cuisine de la pura vida. At La Criollita, a garden patio that's home to a family of birds is a kid-friendly highlight, but truly the generous platters of traditional Costa Rican favorites made to order in the open kitchen are what make this long-standing restaurant so popular. Seating is at tables in two dining rooms and there's a well-stocked dessert case. In Puerto Viejo de Limon you'll find a bevy of family-friendly restaurants dotting the dazzling Caribbean coast. There's Bread and Chocolate for breakfast, lunch, custom cakes for special occasions, and local chocolate among the sweet treats. At Amimodo, pizzas and pasta are among the family recipes served in a cozy open-air space perched between the road and the water's edge. Along the beach and across from the police station awaits bakery cafe Pan Pay, a casual place with an extensive menu of traditional and Spanish plates for breakfast and lunch. Last but not least, don't miss the pancakes at the Lizard King Resort, these swoon inducing towers of goodness are downright legendary; sure-fire favorites for foodies of all ages.


With a name like Chimera, one might expect an a diverse selection of food, and this Santa Elena restaurant delivers. Every plate is a creative fusion of flavors, many of which are Latin, all of which are wrought from the bounty of local ingredients that only the little enclave of Santa Elena, near the Monteverde Cloudforest, can offer. Tapas are the perfect solution for hungry travelers, and Chimera has a way with them. Perfect for sharing among a group of friends and especially for a romantic tasting dinner, each dish is an inspired fusion. The gazpacho appetizer, coconut shrimp, and ginger margarita all come highly recommended.

La Casona del Cafetal is a restaurant and event destination located amidst a sprawling coffee farm, offering excellent cuisine and sweeping views of its lushly planted grounds, complete with a glistening lake, Lago de Cachi. The ambience alone makes La Casona del Cafetal an ideal choice for romantic dinners and special occasions, especially weddings and anniversaries because of its romantic setting, and since it can accommodate up to 300 guests at once, it is often booked in advance. For the casual diner, however, there is a bright and airy dining room and chef-served buffet tables heaped high with international cuisine cooked to perfection.

Pan Pay
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Pan Pay is Puerto Viejo's most popular spot for locals; here is where everyone comes for coffee, croissants, baguettes for later, and to catch up with the neighbors- and if there's a soccer game on, you can watch it here. Located in a casual open air spot adjacent to the police station, many of the tables outside have a view of the water. The prices for breakfast and lunch are the lowest in town and you get plenty of bang for your buck. Owned by two Spanish brothers who take baking seriously, the glass display is brimming with goodies that are hard to resist. Pan Pay opens at 7 but closes in the late afternoon, and everything on the menu is good.


Cartago, Costa Rica's original capital city, has its history on display in enlarged vintage photographs hung throughout this restaurant, enlightening guests to the town's rich history. Highlighted by the earthquake of 1910 that nearly demolished the town of Cartago and most of its residents, the photos provide a window into a past full. The menu at Restaurant 1910 is full of classic Costa Rican dishes like the cheese tortillas and the chorreadas prepared with sweet locally harvested corn, plus a wide variety of appetizing options for all kinds of foodies. Kids will be pleased to find a playground just for them right out in front.

A lovely atmosphere met with large portions of delectable fare make Restaurante Don Porfi a longstanding favorite in Turrialba. The owner is a gregarious gent named Sergio, who may have more than a little something to do with this place's popularity, as he's been known to help diners make tour arrangements as well as suggest the best glass of wine to match their meal. Families traveling with little ones will appreciate the kid-friendly vibes and there is something on the menu for everyone. Finding this place is easy, just ask a taxi to take you there since it's a couple of miles north of the town center.

In the southernmost corner of Costa Rica in the postcard perfect region known as the Osa Peninsula, lies Il Giardino, the first, and many agree, the best, Italian restaurant in Puerto Jimenez, owned and operated by an Italian family that takes nothing more seriously than providing a delightful, thoughtful dining experience. At Il Giradino, the food is deeply rooted in family tradition; each recipe is a family secret, right down to the made to order and from scratch pastas and even lasagna. Daily specials include catch-of-the-day seafood, and there is a wine selection for everything. Nowhere else in the Osa can you enjoy such fine Italian food, exceptional service and take in a relaxing ocean view while feasting on scrumptious Italian fare.

Bread and Chocolate is a must-visit cafe fit for the whole family in Puerto Viejo where locals and tourists gather to partake in wholesome breakfasts, lunches, and signature baked goods. Handmade truffles, delectable brownies, and scrumptious muffins are among the offerings. There are only a handful of tables on the raised deck just off the main road in the center of town, but even when there's a full house it just seems cozy rather than crowded. Bread and Chocolate is open from 6:30am to 6:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 6:30 to 2:30 on Sundays (closed Mondays). It's also cash only.

Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Amimodo is an old-school yet new-school family style and family friendly Italian restaurant on the main road in Puerto Viejo. A nondescript, single story cafe style that's invitingly and casual from the street side and the beach side, Amimodo doesn't need to toot it's own horn; those in the know have been coming here for excellent authentic Italian dishes and special occasions since the doors opened nearly twenty years ago. The seating spills out from inside to out, and there is a little bar inside for pizza and cocktails. Some nights a live band plays spirited Caribbean music, but mostly it is a mellow vibe.

Whether you're in the mood for fluffy pancakes made with real organic chocolate or a platter of huevos rancheros, the Lizard King Caf� has something on its menu for almost everyone. Burritos at the Lizard King are legendarily delicious flour tortillas stuffed with farm fresh ingredients and topped with special salsa unlike any other. The lunch menu includes a range of farm fresh dishes from traditional casados to Caribbean specialties and twists on Mexican favorites, like the reggae roots nachos and the marlin and pineapple kabobs served with coconut rice. Homemade bread and pastries are treats, as are the cheeseburgers.

La Criollita
Photo courtesy of slamonica

La Criollita is an excellent place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has something on the menu for everyone. The fare is traditional Costa Rican; generous portions of meat, chicken and fish with rice, beans and salad on the side, and big selection of delicious appetizers like Tico-style ceviche and a tasty chicken soup to whet the appetite. There are three dining spaces, a main room that overlooks the big and busy kitchen, a bright and airy side room with art-filled walls, and a charming covered outdoor terrace with a bird garden and wrought iron furniture. There is rarely a wait for a table, but lunch time fills up early with nearby business people, so breakfast and dinner are ideal for settling into a relaxing meal. The coffee is excellent, too,save room for dessert; checkout the options like flan and cheesecake on display under the glass on your way in. Bonus: Full Bar.


Meet Sophia LaMonica

On Sophia's first trip to Costa Rica, she came face to face with white-faced monkeys, gasped at the sight of giant purple crabs, and rode horseback through plunging waterfalls. Costa Rica...  More About Sophia