We love Jaco beach in Costa Rica for so many reasons- it’s close to San Jose and our hometown of San Ramon in the Central Valley. We have our all-time favorite accommodations there, and there is so much to do. Plus, the beach is gorgeous. And, it’s just got that quintessential beach town vibe. Also, you don’t really need a car rental here- the whole town is very walkable.
Oh, and did I mention day trips to the Crocodile Bridge, Playa Mantas, Playa Hermosa and Playa Blanca? All just a few kilometers away if you need a change of pace.
I often cook our favorite Costa Rican recipes when we go to the beach- mostly to save money. However, we do like to eat out a few times when we are on a beach vacation- it gives me a break from the kitchen! There is so much food in Jaco, Costa Rica- but these are our favorite Jaco restaurants that we have tried over the years- most serve traditional local food.
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We love Rioasis Pizza- it’s our favorite pizza shop in town. Not only is it tico owned and operated, we think they have the best pizza.
Located along the main strip, you can walk off the beach and enjoy a cold beer at one of the many picnic tables on the open air (no beach views, however).
Or, you can do what we do- we order Rioasis Pizza to our vacation rental and enjoy pizza and beer at sunset. Call them to order: +506 2643 3354
Expect huge pizzas, tons of toppings, and super friendly service. Pizzas range from $20-$10, and they also serve pasta, seafood, nachos and have a full bar. Oh, and did I mention breakfast? Truly our favorite playa Jaco restaurant.
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Soda Marea Alta
This little restaurant on the south end of the main strip is also locally owned and operated, and has amazing typical Costa Rican food. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are practically always open. It’s also just a block from the beach, so it’s easy to walk over for a meal break and head straight back to the beach.
Expect an ample menu of Costa Rican casados, picadillos, gallo pinto, chicken and rice, and more. We took my parents here and they said it was the best meal they’d had in Costa Rica in years.
This restaurant has zero web presence- it’s a local operation with delicious food. Expect to pay between $3-$10 per meal, and for the staff to speak just a little English. Also expect huge plates of delicious Costa Rican food prepared with love.
Note- There is also a place called Soda Marea Baja that is near the main highway in Jaco. It’s a buffet-style place (there’s even a salad bar), the food is very good, it’s super cheap and they do sell beer. However, it’s more of a truck stop/buffet than it is a restaurant experience.
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The Green Room Jaco Beach
The Green Room is a fusion restaurant located along the main strip in Jaco, about a block from the Mas por Menos supermarket. With a focus on fresh local cuisine, organic ingredients, and high-quality food, this is a very popular restaurant in Jaco.
Freshly squeezed juices, kombucha, a huge brunch menu, ingenious cocktails, sandwiches and more, The Green Room prices are a bit higher than other places, expect to pay between $10-$20 per person.
Dinner means a decent wine list, craft beers and some fun dishes like fish tacos. This is the quintessential restaurant for those visiting Costa Rica for the first time and wanting to ease into the local cuisine and food culture.
El Barco de los mariscos
El Barco de los Mariscos is a huge ship-shaped restaurant on the main strip in Jaco. It has been in Jaco longer than Jaco has been in Jaco, and it’s one of the most popular restaurants in Jaco Costa Rica with locals- I’d actually call it an institution.
They serve a traditionally prepared whole red snapper (pargo rojo) and have a bustling ice cream stand next door. The arroz con camarones, seafood pasta in white cream sauce and hand-cut French fries are freshly prepared by local cooks.
The prices here are high, however. Expect to pay between $15-$30 per person. The food is good and the restaurant is a Jaco institution, but we liked the food just as much at Marisqueria el Recreo across the street for less than half the price.
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Marisqueria el Recreo
Marisqueria el recreo is a literal hole in the wall restaurant located on the main strip, identified by a list of the menu items on the main marquee.
It’s very bare-bones- the floor is made of rocks, the roof is an aluminum structure, and there is no formal door. Tables are covered in vinyl and there are old TVs showing Costa Rican programming. The kitchen is tiny, and the service is friendly.
This is a traditional tico restaurant, and if you are well versed in traditional Costa Rican cuisine, you can ask for anything you want to eat and they can probably make it.
Service is a bit slow, prices are rock bottom, and the fish is fresh. When we went they were so good to our kids- they took them crayons and gave them fresh juice while we waited for our food.
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Along the South end of the beach is an open-air restaurant called The Point. It is recently going under a remodel, but it’s adjacent to a surf school and a super budget hostel. This restaurant perfectly captures the quintessential pura vida spirit of Jaco.
Offering relaxing chairs right on the sand, a great reggae soundtrack, and fast, efficient service, we headed here for a quick breakfast and it was delicious. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, and great sunset cocktails.
This place is super cheap, friendly, and laid back. The girls were swinging in hammocks while we used the free wifi before lunch came- and we were right on the beach. we just took our beach stuff with us and hung out on the beach after breakfast. The freshly made juice is to die for.
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Jaco Walk is a two-story modern open-air mall that’s been on the main drag in Jaco for about 5 years. It has all kinds of shops and restaurants including a Cafe Britt coffee shop, a Subway restaurant, and a sushi restaurant. There are 12 total restaurants in the complex, so it’s a good place to go if there are several people in your group with different tastes.
The prices at Jaco Walk are pretty high, and the dining experience is a bit more upscale. Think fine dining, some sushi, a wine bar, etc. Many people say Jaco Walk is home to the best restaurants in Jaco.
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I’ve never been to this soda, (typical low priced Costa Rican restaurant) but it is the talk of literally everyone in town. It’s on my list for the next visit! No trip to Costa Rica is complete without eating some delicious rice, beans, and meat- so I’m excited to see how they deliver and I’ll update the post as needed.
Final tip– If you want a delicious ice cream cone for less than a dollar- head over to the window at the Mas X Menos grocery store on the south end of the main road. You’ll be very happy you did, and your wallet will too!
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This hidden gem in Jaco just came across my desk from a reader and while I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. It comes highly, highly recommended by someone who lives in the country (thanks Elton!).
Where do you eat in Jaco? Let me know of anything I missed so I can add it to the post!
Other Costa Rican food guides you’ll love:
- Best Restaurants in San Jose (for Families)
- A Foodie’s Restaurant Guide To La Fortuna, Costa Rica
- 30 Best San Ramon Restaurants
- 10 Delicious Vegan Options in Costa Rica
- Guide to Gluten Free Costa Rica- A Guide
If you would like to talk to me about a customized itinerary or specific Costa Rica travel advice for your family, (zero sales- just advice!) check out my “Ask Christa” page for more information on custom Costa Rica trip planning geared towards families.