Start the day at La Casa de Carol (no tel., Mon., Wed., Fri.), a lovely little French-run café at Playa Chiquita.
A stone’s throw south, La Botánica Orgánica (tel. 506/2750-0696, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) serves health food such as hemp-seed granola, whole-wheat pancakes, and lentil burgers.
Vegetarians might also head to Punta Uva and the Jardín del Ángel (tel. 506/2750-0695), serving granola with fresh fruit and soy milk, plus dishes such as lasagna and curries.
Mediterráneo (tel. 506/2750-0758, noon–10 p.m. daily), at the Totem Hotel Resort, has the advantage of beach views, plus great pizza, risotto, and Italian seafood with homemade pasta. By day its Bar Ostería (noon–8 p.m. daily) serves as an oyster bar and also has Italian dishes.
Speaking of Italian, the finest cuisine east of San José is to be savored south of Punta Cocles  at La Pecora Nera (tel. 506/2750-0490, pecoranera [at] racsa [dot] co [dot] cr, 5:30 p.m.–11 p.m. Tues.–Sun. high season only, $5–20), a genuine fine-dining experience in unpretentious surrounds at fair prices. Ilario Giannono, the young Italian owner, offers delicious bruschetta, spaghetti, pizzas, calzones, and a large selection of daily specials—all exquisitely executed. I recommend the mixed starters plate, a meal in itself. A wine cellar has been added. Credit cards are not accepted. Ilario also runs the adjoining Il Gato Ci Cora (noon–10 p.m. daily), serving salads, pizzas, and panini.
At Punta Uva, I like to kick back in a hammock at the beachfront Punta Uva Lounge (tel. 506/2659-9048, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), with simple thatched dining areas in lawns opening to the beach; it serves sandwiches and simple rice and fish dishes, plus ice cream and cocktails.
Miss Holly’s Kitchen (tel. 506/2750-0131, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Wed.) has a gourmet café with WiFi and wrap-around veranda. It’s a great breakfast spot for omelettes and fruit salads, and for lunchtime salads and sandwiches.
Nearby La Casa del Pan (tel. 506/2750-2010) is a lovely roadside café that doubles as a French bakery and pizzeria.
Que Rico Papito (tel. 506/2750-0080, www.lacostadepapito.com ) has a tremendous tropical atmosphere beneath a huge thatched ceiling. Go for the Caribbean barbecue (7–10 p.m.) and live music (Tues., Thurs.).
For gourmet dining you can’t beat Magic Ginger Restaurant (tel./fax 506/2750-0205, www.costarica-hotelkasha.com , noon–2 p.m. and 6–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), at Hotel Kashá. Owner Louise Ducoudray dishes up culinary treats such as shredded chicken Bombay salad and swordfish in prune sauce with rum.
The open-air Le Numu (tel. 506/2582-0140, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) set in a lush garden at Le Caméléon offers a chicly urbane ambience for enjoying such delights as duck breast salad ($14), salmon and mushroom tart ($14), and Dijon-horseradish-crusted mahimahi ($14). The bar specializes in martinis and hosts live calypso two Saturdays a month.
You can stock up on food at the El Duende Gourmet deli and grocery, or at the fully stockedC. J. Marketplace, both at Punta Cocles; the latter has a no-plastic-bag policy (bring your own bag).