Even though Dominical is a small town, there are no shortages of great restaurants to choose from during your Costa Rican vacation. While most of the options are casual, there are a few higher end restaurants you and your family can dine at. And since Dominical lies directly on the Pacific Ocean, seafood is a major highlight throughout most of the menus.
Here are our family's favorite places to eat in Dominical and the surrounding area.
Cafe Mono Congo
Coinciding with Costa Rica's relaxed attitude, Cafe Mono Congo is the epitome of Pura Vida. You can sit upon a porch swing next to the ocean, order a strong coffee and enjoy local food with a modern twist. Its a great spot to start off your morning and its ingredients come from local, organic produce. If you and your family are vegetarian, this is a great option for you. Most of the dishes are meatless but that doesn't mean they lack any flavor. This open-air cafe is located right off the main road into Dominical.
While we lived in Costa Rica, you could often find our family at Delicias enjoying a coffee and some of the fluffiest pancakes we've ever had. Like the name implies, Delicias serves some delicious food! The owner serves Dota coffee which is some of the most flavorful coffee in Costa Rica and the restaurant has a wide range of options for breakfast and lunch.
Make sure to order the gallo pinto, a local delicacy, or the banana pancakes and you can even buy bags of Dota coffee to take home with you. You can find Delicias on the main road into Dominical on the right hand side.
Pollo Frito Dominical
For a country known for its seafood, fried chicken is surprisingly delicious in Costa Rica. Pollo Frito offers fast, cheap and juicy fried chicken which is a perfect meal after a day on the beach. The restaurant also serves up Asian food, (random, yes I know) but its also tasty and quick. Pollo Frito is on the left hand side of the main road into Dominical and is a small, open air restaurant.
*If you are visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season, make sure to check if they are open. Pollo Frito has different hours during the off season and may even close permanently until November.
Locally run restaurants ended up being our family's favorite places to eat while we lived in Dominical. Cafe Ensuenos is an unassuming yet great place to have a meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Its prices are very reasonable and the food is local and fresh. The cafe is tucked away across from the Tropical Sands hotel.
Throughout town and on the side of the main highway, you will see several ceviche stands set up sporadically along the road. These are owned by local families that serve fish that was delivered by fisherman earlier that day. You honestly can't get any fresher than that!
The ceviche is served with fried plantains (pantacones) or chips and you can grab seat at their small stand or take the ceviche home with you.
This is by far my favorite place to eat in Dominical. While we lived in Costa Rica, we ate here nearly every time we went to the beach. Its so, so good. This is a locally owned restaurant located about 15 minutes north of town in Matapalo and can be hard to spot from the highway. Everything we have tried on their menu has been fresh and delicious. Their fried shrimp or shrimp in white sauce are excellent and their arroz mixto (rice with mixed seafood) are our favorites.
If you are a huge fan of seafood, make to order their large seafood platter which is a giant plate of whatever was caught that day. The last time we ordered it there was octopus, squid, shrimp, mussels and various fish. Its a fun, relaxed restaurant and you truly get the taste of Costa Rica.
El Pescado Loco
In downtown Dominical, El Pescado Loco serves up fresh fish tacos with a modern twist. Its a small open-air restaurant and only serves a few items but its always made to order and comes with delicious sauces that you just have to try! I end up always ordering their fish and chips which are flaky and oh so good!
Bar Jolly Roger
One of the most iconic and best restaurants in the Dominical/Uvita area is Bar Jolly Roger. Sitting high on a hill with clear views of the Pacific, this wing joint serves up some of the best buffalo wings I've ever had. Jolly Roger is a relaxed restaurant and a perfect spot to enjoy a beer and wings after a busy day of zip lining or surfing. The road to the Jolly Roger is a Costa Rican adventure all in itself! You have to have a 4x4 to make it up the hill which is about a 8 minute drive.
While their wings are their most famous dish, don't pass up on their burgers. They are amazing! Also, order a side of storm fries which are covered in butter, garlic and a ton of parmesan cheese. And of course, their margaritas are a must! Even though they are a bar, it is still a family friendly restaurant and they have live music every Wednesday.
*Make sure to bring cash! They do not accept credit cards and there is no ATM.
A favorite for many people who visit the Dominical area, Exotica perfectly blends its upscale menu with the relaxed atmosphere of Costa Rica. The small restaurant is owned by a French family and serves a French/South Asian influenced menu that uses local ingredients.
Exotica isn't located in Dominical but rather in Ojochal which is about 30 minutes south. Its an easy drive to the restaurant and well worth it. Since Exotica is small, I recommend to call and make a reservation beforehand.
Charter is a great restaurant to check out not only for its upscale take on comida tipico, but for its atmosphere. On site there is a hollowed out airplane which has a full-serving bar inside and music. Its a great place to have a drink after eating a delicious meal. Charter knows how to cook a good steak and their pasta dishes are always a good choice as well.
If you are traveling with kiddos, they have a pool and a playground which you and your kids can enjoy during your meal. The owner and staff are always friendly which will make your experience even better.
Palapa Restaurant at Cuna Del Angel
One of the nicest restaurants in the area, Palapa is a must when visiting Dominical. From the unique ingredients on its menu, to the design of the building which pays homage to the local ancestors, everything about this restaurant serves an important purpose and is a symbol of the Costa Rican culture.
While you enjoy your meal, you can overlook the rainforest and even spot toucans or monkeys moving in the trees. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
While these happen to by favorite places to eat, there are even more great restaurants in and around Dominical. So while you may be visiting Costa Rica for its jaw-dropping views, outdoor activities and relaxed atmosphere, you are for sure going to have an awesome meal while you are here! Pura vida.