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In Playa Pelada, Olga’s (no tel., 10 A.M.–10 P.M. daily) is a rustic Tico-owned place, recommended for seafood ($5) and filling casados (set meals).
Sitting over the main road in the heart of Guiones, Marlin Bill’s (tel. 506/2682-0458, 11 A.M.–2 P.M. and 6 P.M.–midnight daily, $3.50–13) offers great dining on a lofty, breeze-swept terrace with views. Lunch might include a blackened tuna salad or sandwich, french onion soup ($3.50), and brownie sundae or Key lime pie. Pork loin chops, New York strip steak, and eggplant parmesan typify the dinner menu. The bar has a TV.
Fifty meters east of Marlin Bill’s, Orgánico (tel. 506/2682-1434, www.web.organico.com, 7:30 A.M.–7:30 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 9 A.M.–7:30 P.M. Sun.) has a great deli, including veggie and vegan foods, plus Middle Eastern specialties. At Robin’s (tel. 506/2682-0617, 8 A.M.–7 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 10 A.M.–4:30 P.M. Sun.), the namesake owner greets you with a smile at her ever-lively café (which has WiFi) in Guiones. It’s a great place for sandwiches, wraps, potato salads, and homemade ice cream (try the ginger and pineapple sorbet).
The French-run Café de Paris (tel. 506/2682-0087, 7 A.M.–11 P.M. daily, $4–10) serves Gallic fare such as crepes and french toast, but also omelettes, sandwiches such as chicken curry or turkey, and entrées such as penne pasta with creamed pesto fish and duck breast in green pepper sauce, plus wood-fired pizza.
Another great place to start the day, Beach Dog Café (tel. 506/2682-1293, 7 A.M.–8 P.M. daily) serves fresh-baked breads, sandwiches, slow-cooked meats, filling burritos, wraps, and smoothies. It’s just steps from Guiones beach and has a terrific outdoor ambience. It offers free WiFi and international calls.
The Gilded Iguana (tel. 506/2682-0259, 7 A.M.–10 P.M. daily, $2.50–8) is a favorite with locals and serves super tacos, stuffed jalapeños, tuna salad, seafood, and great shakes. It has free WiFi, plus live music Tuesday and Friday nights.
Harmony Hotel (7–10:30 A.M., noon–3:30 P.M., and 6–9 P.M., $5–15) is a winner for vegetarian cuisine and fusion cuisine such as coconut basil and ginger jumbo shrimp ($8), and a superb five-spice chicken risotto, although the sushi menu is disappointingly meager.
For pizza, head to Pancho’s (tel. 506/2682-0591, 5–8 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 11 A.M.–8 P.M. Sun.), set under a thatch roof. You can stock up on olives and olive oil at its deli (11 A.M.–8 P.M. daily).
It’s definitely worth the snaking drive into the hills to dine at Restaurante Vista del Paraíso (tel. 506/2682-0637, 11 A.M.–10 P.M. Mon.–Sat.), where you can enjoy sensational views. Debbie, the Texan owner, is a French-trained chef who conjures up the likes of baked goat cheese salad ($8), filet mignon ($19), and napoleon of beef tenderloin with layers of grilled pineapple and blue cheese ($18).
Vegan or carnivore? Either way, chef Susan Prior’s The Rising Sun (tel. 506/2682-0080, www.the-rising-sun.com, 8 A.M.–9 P.M. Mon.–Wed., 8 A.M.–10 P.M. Thurs., 8 A.M.–9 P.M. Fri., 8 A.M.–10 P.M. Sat.), behind the beach at Guiones, pleases with its hearty tofu-scramble breakfasts, awesome burgers, Asian rice bowls, and Wednesday-evening all-you-can-eat pasta feast.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition