Our Favourite Places in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

With fewer and fewer places left to explore, we are nearing the end of our series of favourite places.

Luckily, there were three pretty neat places in San Juan del Sur that I want to share with you guys! So lets get right into it shall we!

P1020989The Loose Moose: The name alone would have sold me on this bar, but then I found out it was owned, operated and themed by and for Canadians. A little slice of home right in the middle of San Juan del Sur. Who would have thunk it “eh”?

The small and cozy reminded me of lots of the bars back home (I guess that’s the point right?) The walls are adorned with gorgeous murals that reminded me of the west coast. Above the bar you will find all sorts of Canadian swag including lots of hockey jerseys and other memorabilia. It didn’t seem to matter who your team was, everyone there was on Team Canada.

What this bar lacks in size, it makes up for in P1020963party. The minimal seating inside doesn’t deter people from hanging out and the party often spills out into the street.

The bar has two big claims to fame, authentic Canadian poutine, and delicious caesers. A novelty for some, but for us it made us feel right at home. They also have a pretty impressive sushi menu as well.

If you are Canadian and looking for a place to get your Canuck on, or just wanting to indulge in a little good ole fashioned Canadian hospitality check out the Loose Moose.

P1020990El Gato Negro: Another place whose name attracted me instantly. Since we had left our big black bear cat at home, a coffee shop called Black Cat obviously caught my attention.

You can imagine my delight when I discovered this was not just any coffee shop, it was a coffee shop/bookstore. I can’t tell you how many times Colleen and I stopped in for a coffee and some girl talk and I would be instantly distracted by reading all of the titles of the books. Not having my selection limited to what I find in a dingy corner of a hostel was intoxicating.

P1020993It wasn’t just their books that made this place a favourite.They use local beans and have a roaster on the premises.As a result, their coffee is amazing. They also have a wide variety of breakfast and lunch options. They focus on offering healthy alternatives and even offer a huge smoothies menu with all sorts of superfoods you can add to them to give them a nutritional boost.

El Gato Negro also has an assortment of products on sale, including tarot cards, organic dried fruit, clay art, and their coffee beans. After indulging in so many cups of coffee I was very tempted to pick up a bag of beans to bring home. But alas, the thought of lugging them around for a month and a half won out.

El Gato Negro is an institution in San Juan del Sur. No trip to the town would be complete without stopping by and checking it out. If you are a coffee drinker, make sure you pick up a bag of their beans. You’ll regret if you don’t!

P1030034Cafe Revolucion: Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat. Cafe Revolution isn’t actually in San Juan del Sur, it is on the beach in Playa Maderas. Despite the fact that it is 9km away from the town, I just couldn’t leave this funky beachside bar/coffee shop off the list.

Cafe Revolucion has a little bit of everything: cold beers, brick oven pizza, coffee bar and lots of things in between. It really is a one stop shop for whatever your post-surf cravings are. They even offer board rental and camping space for those who stop by and just decide not to leave.

 

P1030037The thing that really attracted me to Cafe Revolucion was the view. I could sit on the bar stools, write my blog, sip on a Cappuccino, enjoy the warm breeze while watching Shaun surf. I’ve visited a lot of need places in my travels, but this was an experience that was hard to beat.

So, if you are staying in Playa Maderas, or just heading there for the day, stop  by Cafe Revolucion and enjoy their laid back vibe. Be prepared though, some people arrive and then they never leave!

There ya go and there ya have it, another list of our favourite places. As always, if you have any questions about these or other places we’ve visited, come check out our Facebook page or leave a comment below.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

 

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Our Favourite Places in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

After four visits to Tamarindo, you can imagine my surprise when I realized that I had never done a “Favourite Places” post for it. Blogger Fail. Who knows why this slipped through my fingers, but nevertheless, the week we spent here allowed for the perfect opportunity to get one done.

There are so many places I could have chosen for this post. I actually had to cruise around the town to do some additional taste testing for the restaurants who made the cut, all in the name of research of course. Thankfully it paid off, and I’ve managed to narrow it down to our top three picks.

199591_10150118390849102_7536690_nCR Paradise: When we talk about people that we like to visit while in Costa Rica, Michelle and Steven of CR Paradise are at the top of our list. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without these two. They helped me navigate everything from booking a snorkel tour for a zillion people at Christmas, to getting over the border to Nicaragua. Any time I have a Costa Rica related question I know I can email them and they’ll have answer for me super quick.

They are literally a one stop shop for surfing trips, airport transfers, zip-lining, car rentals, turtle tours, waterfalls and everything in between.

What really sets CR Paradise apart is their level of integrity. They aren’t just going to try and sell you a tour to make a buck (like many people in Tamarindo will do). They’ll be honest with you about the pros and cons, and make sure you are getting the adventure that best suits your needs.

If you are heading to Tamarindo, and looking for a tour company, I can’t recommend them enough. Make sure you tell them Kate sent you 😉

P1020888Nogui’s: We find that most of the beach front bars in Tamarindo are tourist traps. Travellers are lured in by the thought of eating dinner right on the beach, but are then faced with high prices, and lack lustre food. Nogui’s authentic and delicious Costa Rican cuisine makes it stand out from the rest.

Before I even start talking about Nogui’s, I highly suggest you click this link to their website. Their home page beautifully describes their history, and the history of what Tamarindo was like back in the 70’s when it opened. Nogui’s is truly a Tamarindo original, and has grown along with the town itself. Once only open for dinners by reservation, Nogui’s is now open all day serving up a huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So, if you are visiting Tamarindo, make sure to make time to check out Nogui’s. I would suggest snagging one of their bright yellow Adirondack chairs right on  the beach and indulging in one of their famous pineapple, ginger mint juices with a side of their delicious ceviche.

P1020886Green Papaya: Shaun and I have already decided that our final meal in Costa Rica will be at Green Papaya. We’ve eaten here several times, and each time we go our meals are insanely delicious.

Green Papaya is a little off the beaten path, but well worth the trek off the main strip. You’re not only guaranteed a delicious meal, but super fast and friendly service.

Mom and brother Sean enjoying the swings at Christmas!

Mom and brother Sean enjoying the swings at Christmas!

Something that is often hard to find, especially in Tamarindo.

The restaurant has a great design. Guests can beat the heat by sitting inside on big wooden carved stumps (more comfortable then it sounds!). Alternatively guests can opt to sit outside on swings. Seriously! How could you pass up the chance to eat dinner on a swing? Well let me tell you, most people can’t. So get there early, or you will be swingless!

Chicken Tacos....NOM

Chicken Tacos….NOM

As far as suggestions are concerned, you just can’t go wrong with their chicken taco’s. Then again, their chips and salsa, chili, and burrito’s are amazing as well. This is the only problem with Green Papaya, to delicious things to choose from!

My most recent discovery about Green Papaya is their coffee bar. Finding a good coffee on the main strip in Tamarindo can be a little challenging. I’ve already written about my love for Cafe Tico, but Green Papaya certainly gives it a run for its money.

So whether you are looking for taco’s, coffee or swings, Green Papaya is certainly a must visit in Tamarindo.

Well, I certainly feel better now that I’ve got that done! Check out our other favourite places here. As always, if you are looking for other recommendations for Tamarindo, or elsewhere in Costa Rica leave a comment below or visit our Facebook page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Our Favourite Places in Nosara, Costa Rica Part 1

Writing our favourite places post for Nosara is super hard for two reasons. First, we are staying in this small little town for almost a month. Second, it is full of so many awesome little places I want to write about.

So, as with many of my posts that I feel the need to blab on about, I’ll break this up into two posts, or maybe even more!

Regardless, you have to start somewhere, so here are our first couple favourite places in Nosara!

P1020717Baglemans: This little coffee shop first caught my eye during my morning run. Well, I guess it didn’t really catch my eye so much as it caught my nose! The deadly delicious smell of baked goods wafted across my path and left me salivating mid-run. As much as I wanted to pop in for an immediate carb load, I managed to restrain myself until later that afternoon.

Score!!

Score!!

Shaun and I stopped in for a coffee and a treat. My Cappuccino was fabulous, warm and rich. Plus they had an awesome deal on where Shaun could get a warm cinnamon bun pretty much for free with my purchase. Budget friendly sweet treats? We are in!

We sat outside enjoying our purchases, vowing we would be back. We came back a couple days later, and although that specific deal wasn’t on at that time, we still managed to enjoy our indulgences.

Bagleman’s has tons of great lunch combos, as well as a full coffee menu. It’s got a relaxed vibe, free wifi, and an aroma that is to die for. It wasn’t until later that I actually discovered that this place is considered a “fast-food” chain in Costa Rica. I haven’t seen one anywhere else on our travels, which is probably a good thing, since I would likely have to stop in every time!

P1020720Robins Ice Cream: I had read great things about robin’s on Trip Advisor, so I knew I would be checking it out. All I needed to hear was that there was gelato, and I was sold. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but their menu is huge and extremely unique for Costa Rica. They offer tons of organic and gluten free breakfast, lunch and early dinner options. The day I was there their special was a vegan sushi roll which looked amazing.

Shaun is making some big  decisions there in the background!

Shaun is making some big decisions there in the background!

Shaun and I popped in here twice during our stay. Both times for ice cream/sorbet. He had oatmeal chocolate chip, and coconut while I opted for a of vegan pineapple-ginger and tropical lime. We can officially vouch for all of those flavours. Don’t worry though, we are willing to continue our taste test when we get back. The things we do for the blog!

Oh, they also sell Pipa’s in their cooler! So if you are too lazy to nip down to the beach to track down a vendor, you can always stop here!

Health Food Store Bliss!

Health Food Store Bliss!

Organico: Health Food Store ALERT! Obviously from my Favourite Places posts from Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, I’m a big fan of health foods stores. Organico is awesome because its a full on grocery store and health food store in one. Often times, the health food stores I encounter have a really limited selection, as merchandise tends to be difficult to get here.

I felt like Organico had it all. Organic veggies, meats, quinoa, even ice cream. A huge perk of Organico is their bulk section. I haven’t seen bulk food anywhere in Costa Rica and hadn’t realized how much I’d missed it! I’m thinking I’ll be picking up for supplies for granola next time I’m there!

Organico also has a little cafe in the front of the store that sells healthy sandwiches, salads and juices. With so many amazing things to offer, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be frequenting this awesome business a lot during our travels back in Nosara.

So there you have it, another round up of our favourite places. If you enjoy the series, check out our other Favourite Places Posts.

As always, if you have any questions about these, or other areas, leave us a comment below, or message us on Twitter or our Facebook Page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Our Favourite Places in Monteverde, Costa Rica

I have to say, I really loved Monteverde. After getting out of the hustle and bustle of the tourist scene of La Fortuna, this quaint little town was way more my scene.

That being said, there certainly was no shortage of things to see and do there!

Although we were only in town for three days, they were very busy and full of all sorts of adventures. Despite the hectic schedule, I did manage to track down a couple of my “Favourite Places” for you to check out.

Our Favourite Places in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Be prepared, their menu is HUGE

Be prepared, their menu is HUGE

Sabor Tico: If you’ve been following the blog closely, you may recognize this name. Yes in fact, there is a Sabor Tico in La Fortuna as well, and it was also one of our favourite places…well it was actually Shaun’s favourite place, as I never actually ate at it.

This Sabor Tico is very different, and having experienced it first hand, I can attest that it a truly delicious place to dine. Sabor Tico is like a traditional soda gone mainstream. Their menu is chalk full traditional Costa Rican favourites, but their restaurant area is a little fancier then what you would find in a regular soda. Don’t worry though, cause it tastes like mama is still cooking up a storm in the kitchen, because everything we ate there was unreal.

On the night we visited we went all out. I was so excited to see they had tamale’s on the PicMonkey Collagemenu, because I hadn’t seen any during our trip yet and at only 900 Colones, how could I resist? Tamales are a dish famous for being served at Christmas here in Costa Rica. The base is masa, usually made from a corn flour dough, then there will be meats, cheese, veggies or sometimes even fruits inside. All of this deliciousness is wrapped up in a banana or plantain leaf and steamed or boiled.

Shaun's Fajitas

Shaun’s Fajitas

I can see why people would eat these at Christmas, it’s like opening a present when you eat them! Ours was full of chicken, and veggies. We combined it with a little Lizano and it was an awesome little appy to share.

Woosh, What a Tamale Tangent!

My Ceviche

My Ceviche

The rest of our meal was just as amazing. I got some ceviche, while Shaun got a Fajita. Both were fabulous!

Sabor Tico is an awesome place if you are looking for some delicious Costa Rican favourites. They are so popular, that they actually have two locations. The original location is in Santa Elena, while the new location, the one we went to, is in Monteverde. They are only 2km apart so you could hit one up for lunch, and one for dinner!

P1020568Orchid Coffee & Tea Shop: I took one for the team again here in Monteverde, and checked out several coffee places to see which ones were the best. The things I do for you guys. Orchid Coffee was my first stop, because it had such a high rating on trip advisor. It did not disappoint.

Despite being in Monteverde for such a short stint, I somehow managed to indulge in several Cappuccino’s at this establishment. I would suggest trying the Spiced Cappuccino with Cinnamon, Nutmeg…and maybe Ginger? Regardless, it was a really nice twist on my traditional coffee choice.

P1020647Desafio Monteverde: Although I am a little biased, because I absolutely love this company, Desafio Monteverde was still one of our favourite places. The staff are incredible, and will set you up with everything you need to make your stay in Monteverde beyond memorable.

Beyond the tours, the building itself is awesome as well. They offer the only truly “Free” activity in Monteverde. They have a hummingbird and monkey garden in the back of their property that is open to the public. Also, there is an amazing coffee shop upstairs that roasts its own beans (you know I’ll take any opportunity to pop into another coffee shop!)

So whether you are looking for a tour, wanting to see some hummingbirds/monkeys, or just wanting to meet some really awesome people, stop by Desafio Monteverde, and tell them I sent you!

That’s a wrap on another edition of our Favourite Places. Check out other posts in this series, and as always feel free to pop us any questions in the comments below or on Facebook.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Favourite Places in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

As I mentioned before, we were kind of grouchy during our stay in La Fortuna. That being said, we did manage to rustle up a few of our favourite places for you to check out.

The entrance, I loved this little patio.

The entrance, I loved this little patio.

My Coffee: Seriously, what would a “Favourite Places” post be without a coffee shop.

Being away from the beach certainly had one huge perk, we were now in the land of coffee! There were coffee shops everywhere in La Fortuna, some of which even grew their own beans. I was a trooper, and tested out three different shops before deciding on my favourite.

I had to put my glasses on because I looked so tired, this coffee helped!

I had to put my glasses on because I looked so tired, this coffee helped!

My Coffee is centrally located right across from the central park. It’s actually a nice combination of restaurant and coffee shop. I could have easily gone there for a glass of wine and dinner, but I also didn’t feel bad just ordering a Cappuccino and sitting down.

Their service is wonderful, and it is apparent that the owners take a lot of pride in their establishment. Little touches like bringing you water, and playing ziplining videos on their flat screen really make them stand out.

If you are looking for a delicious coffee in La Fortuna, I would highly suggest My Coffee.

Doesn't look like much I know!

Doesn’t look like much I know!

Soda Sabor Tico: I can’t take credit for this place, it’s all Shaun. During our time in La Fortuna, Shaun was definitely getting sick of chickpeas and eggs and was on the hunt for some delicious, and cheap grub. He struck out one evening on a quest for a burger and fries.

When he returned, I could tell he struck gold. Not only had he found a soda that sold a burger and fries for 5 dollars, but it was half a block from our hostel. This soda sold both typical Costa Rican, and western food. It was always packed, a sure sign that it is a good place to eat. If you are looking for a bargain, this is a great place to go.

It was a cloudy day, but I swear there is a volcano there!

It was a cloudy day, but I swear there is a volcano there!

La Fortuna Park: This park isn’t hard to miss, it is literally the centre of La Fortuna. Like I said in previous posts, there isn’t much to do in La Fortuna outside of tours. So, I ended up spending a lot of time in the park. It’s not huge, but it has a lot of benches, and other places to sit, enjoy a coffee, and marvel at the Arenal volcano looming overhead.

The church in the background is also worth checking out. I popped in one afternoon while I was wandering around and It is gorgeous inside.

So there you have it, anther edition of “Our Favourite Places” is complete. As always, if you have questions about this area, or any others we’ve visited. Feel free to ask in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Favourite Places in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Although most people go to Manuel Antonio just to see the National Park, we decided to spend an extra day poking around, and exploring everything the little town had to offer.

Our adventure was well worth it, the town is full of great restaurants, coffee shops, and hidden beaches. Plus, with the hilly terrain, there are breathtaking views at every turn. So without further ado, here are our favourite places in Manuel Antonio

The entrance to Emilio's. You can see the view from the front door!

The entrance to Emilio’s. You can see the view from the front door!

Emilio’s Cafe– One of the first things I asked David when we checked into our hostel was, “where is the best place for coffee?” My stomach was finally feeling better, and I was ready to jump back on the coffee band wagon. He recommended Emilio’s, which was only about a 7 minute walk from our hostel.
Emilio’s is, just off the main road to Manuel Antonio near the Falafel Bar. It is an open concept coffee shop/restaurant which means when you peer through the door from the road, you can already see that the view is breathtaking.

The view from Emilio's. This was the perfect incentive to make it a two coffee day!

The view from Emilio’s. This was the perfect incentive to make it a two coffee day!

Shaun, and I popped in here one morning after a beach walk.  As we sat outside, looking out over the National Park, sipping a Cappuccino and a Gingerale, and listening to Jack Johnson, I knew I would be writing about this place. Luckily for me, I hadn’t brought my camera, so I had the perfect excuse to come back later in the afternoon for another coffee,  to snap some photo’s, and use their free WiFi to catch up on some blogging.
Emilio’s offers a small, but delicious looking menu. The morning we were there, the special was a French Toast with pineapple, and ginger syrup. Holy yum! Their dessert display was even more tempting. I was astounded by the sheer physics of their Mississippi Mud Pie. A towering pie of whipped cream, and chocolate that seemed beyond belief. My Cappuccino had the most beautiful coffee art on the top, something that I’ve always taken for granted at home, but so appreciate when I find it here.
Although it is only about 3km from the bustling tourist hub near the park, the chilled out atmosphere makes Emilio’s feel like a different world. If you are looking to relax, have coffee, enjoy some amazing food, and enjoy a view that will take your breath away, Emilio’s Cafe is the place to be.

Can you spot the plane?

Can you spot the plane?

El Avion: This restaurant seems to be a rite of passage for guests visiting Manuel Antonio, and rightly so. It’s not everyday that you come across a restaurant inside a green cargo plane that is perched precariously on the top of a hill. Since you have to pass it on your way to the park, many tourists get curious, and stop either on their way to the park, or on their way back.
The story about how this plane ended up on the side of the road in Manuel Antonio is full of mystery, corruption, and scandal. You can read all about it here.

I had visited the restaurant three years ago on a previous visit, but Shaun had never seen it. We made a point to stop in for a happy hour to check out both the feat of engineering, and the breathtaking view.

Impressive eh!

Impressive eh!

If you are eating, make sure you keep an eye out when your food arrives. The kitchen is below, and food is delivered fuselage dumbwaiter!

If you visit, make sure you check out the bar inside the plane. It is open during the day, but at night converts into a night club. You can go right in, and sit in the cockpit!

Shaun rocking the tourist shot!

Shaun rocking the tourist shot!

If you are leaving Manuel Antonio after a big day at the park, I highly suggest making a pit stop at El Avion. Don’t worry if you are sweaty, sandy or wet, they are used to it. It’s a great place for a meal, snack, beverage or final photo op before making your way back home.

The farmer's market in Quepos

The farmer’s market in Quepos

Raw Food Express– Okay, so this one is a little bit of a cheat, as it’s actually located in Quespos, a town located about 6km from Manuel Antonio.

We were lucky enough to be in the area over the weekend, which meant the farmer’s market was open on the boardwalk in Quespos. So, we hopped on the bus to check it out.

Nuts, seeds, cookies, cocoa butter.  A little bit of everything!

Nuts, seeds, cookies, cocoa butter. A little bit of everything!

The market was lovely. It was mostly vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, and of course Pipas. There were a few artisans selling jewellery, soaps, and clothes, but one vendor in particular caught my eye.

The table for Raw Food Express was covered in all sorts of amazing raw food items.  As many of you know, I’m always on the look out for unique healthy options while travelling here, so I had to stop and take a look.

My beloved kale chips

My beloved kale chips

I met Debbie, and Gabrielle whose passion for raw healthy food was evident.I scanned their many products, and was impressed by the diversity, and uniqueness of their merchandise. There were so many items that I hadn’t seen in Costa Rica before like: raw cookies, coconut milk, raw crackers, Spirulina, and even my beloved peanut butter.

I could have bought it all, but when my eyes fell upon Kale chips, I knew there would be a sale. Our next stop on our trip was to a remote town, and we didn’t have a fridge. I had been trying to figure out how I was going to get my vegetables in while we were there. Kale chips were the perfect solution. I opted for two bags, one honey mustard, and one herb flavoured.  I am eating them as we speak, and they are so delicious.

Raw Food Express also makes food that you can pre order, and pick up at the market. Everything from raw lasagne with zucchini noodles, to mango sushi. A great option for those interested in raw food, but unsure how to get started.

If you are into raw food, or just looking for some healthy alternatives while travelling in Manuel Antonio, I would definitely look up Raw Food Express. Try the honey mustard kale chips, you won’t be disappointed!

So there you have it, our favourite places in Manuel Antonio. There are lots more where that came from, so if you are looking for more recommendations, drop me a line!
Pura Vida!
Kate
Follow me on Twitter: @caketress