I spent 12 days in the northwest of Costa Rica, flying in and out of Liberia. I'd been warned the food was blander than in Mexico, but found a lot to like especially cafe con leche.
superb steak purchased at Carnes Don Fernando and grilled to order. Off the tourist track north of town, and worth the 1000 colones taxi. Supernice folks.
green papaya salad at Seasons by Shlomi by the pool at the Arco Iris. Inventive menu at reasonable (for Tamarindo) prices. Desserts were too sweet.
tasty carrot cake at Sarita's Bakery.
loved the Monteverde cheese. There's a tiny whole foods store near CASEM close to the Monteverde preserve where I picked up walnuts, homemake tortillas, and dried bananas. I also picked up coffee at the supermercado, but was frustrated that only Britt sells grano entero (unground whole beans) and at prices similar to what I'd pay in San Francisco.
best meals were the homemade breakfasts made by my delightful host at the Bellbird especially his gallo pinto (and I don't like beans) with salsa Lizano. Sweet pineapple and papayas.
I stayed at the Observatory Lodge and ate nearly all my meals there. It's pricey, but good service and the Costa Rican style arroz con pollo (like chicken fried rice) was very good. Don't miss the coconut flan.
We headed to El Castillo to the serpentarium one day and stopped in to visit Pizza John, who obliged with six pies even though it was his day off. Great margarita, wonderful atmosphere outdoors by the lake. Don't miss it.
Rincon de la Vieja:
Delicious inexpensive dinners at Rinconcito Lodge. Corvina and steak were the standouts.
I'd have liked to have brought some Nicaraguan rum home, but had to go through immigration in Miami and would have needed to put it in my checked luggage. Heard a rumor that there's a great Peruvian restaurant in Liberia next to the bus station from friends i met traveling.
If you're a tea drinker, bring your own. I usually do and wish I'd brought more. I also wish I'd brought more high protein snacks or stocked up on them at the start of my trip when I was in towns. I did find myself craving more vegetables; but the butter lettuce served as garnish was delectable.