After a day of trekking around the enormous Volcan Arenal, there are likely only two things you want: a soak in a nearby hot spring and a good meal. Luckily, La Fortuna is a tourist haven, and there's no shortage of restaurants. Find Mediterranean fare, Peruvian dishes, great sushi, elevated Costa Rican cuisine, and more—most within short walking distance from the main square—with this list.

Café Mediterraneo

Café Mediterraneo does wood-fired pizzas among other Italian favorites

Located just south of the town center, you’ll find this popular osteria. Wood-fired pizzas and fresh-made pasta are the specialties here, but you can’t go wrong with the Caesar salad either. In fact, there’s plenty of vegetarian options, like the green fettucini made with avocado and tomato.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find spaghetti and meatballs and other pasta dishes with meat and bacon sauces (best paired with a Chilean red from the respectable wine list Chile). After dinner, it’s time for a well-prepared espresso or cappuccino—and if you’ve got the appetite, don't miss the tiramisu or the more unique dessert offerings like banana ice-cream crepes and pizza dough with Nutella and almonds. During the day, sit on the patio for great views of Arenal Volcano.

On the 702 highway, 500 meters from the town center and the Catholic church

Chifa la Familia Feliz

Chifa la Familia Feliz serves a mix of cuisine, including traditional Peruvian dishes like causa rellena

This restaurant is one of the more unique options in town. Chifa la Familia Feliz does Peruvian twists on Chinese staples like fried wontons and sweet and sour pork, along with traditional Peruvian dishes like causa rellena—mashed potatoes mixed with yellow pepper paste and filled with chicken, vegetables, or shrimp.

One selling point is that Chef Martin has been known to tour the dining room, making guests feel right at home and personally recommending dishes according to their preference. Vegetarians will be happy here, too—there are a good number of veggie options, all explicitly labeled on the menu. Before dinner, be sure to treat yourself to that most classic of Peruvian cocktails, the pisco sour.

Located diagonally across from the Alamo Rent a Car

Don Rufino

Elevated Costa Rican fare at Don Rufino

This restaurant is one of the top dining options in La Fortuna for a variety of reasons, and ticks all the boxes that any socially responsible eatery should: it sources grass-fed beef from local farms, seafood is locally caught and sustainable, and the vegetables have the label “organic” written in stone.

As for the food, it’s best described as “elevated surf and turf.” There’s the requisite New York strip, filet, and rib-eye steaks on the menu; the seafood selections include locally caught trout, Pacific jumbo shrimp, and grilled octopus. Unique side dishes you can find here are arracacha root puree, pickled fennel, and purple corn polenta. This one of the fancier restaurants in town, so be prepared to pay fine-dining prices. It’s a great place to come for a formal evening after a long day’s trekking around the volcano and enjoy one of six different prix fixe menus. 

La Fortuna town center, one block east of the park

Flying Tomato

The Flying Tomato sources their all-vegetarian menu fresh each day

As the name infers, this is an all-vegetarian restaurant (La Fortuna’s only one). In reality, most of the fare you’ll find here is all vegan. The menu is fairly dynamic, too, going beyond mere veggie burgers and offering local plates like fried plantains with black beans and guacamole, and even veggie sushi rolls. They also do twists on local standards like gallo pinto, substituting tofu for the eggs but keeping the black beans and rice.

The owners source the ingredients that day, and their house doubles as the restaurant. Overall, it’s a good place to come whether you’re an orthodox vegetarian or an omnivore looking for a break from all those grilled meats Costa Rica produces in abundance.

La Fortuna town center, Av. 333

Kappa Sushi

Set sail on a "sushi boat" at Kappa Sushi

Other than the bright red sign out front, this tiny sushi bar is rather unassuming. But you’re not coming here for flash—you’re coming here for the freshest and best-prepared sushi in La Fortuna. The menu is heavy on standards like nigiri, gyoza, and classic rolls, all with outstanding quality. This is another dining option that makes for a nice alternative to the meat-heavy staples of Costa Rican cuisine. They do some creative vegetarian and vegan dishes here as well, like crispy coconut teriyaki tofu.

La Fortuna town center, north of the park

La Parilla de Maria Bonita

Surf and turf at Maria Bonita

To the uninitiated, parilla is the Latin American version of barbecue. Like it’s American counterpart, this style of cooking is all about grilled meats—and for carnivores sojourning in La Fortuna, La Parilla de Maria Bonita is a paradise. There’s a wide variety to choose from, including everything from sausage platters and stuffed pork to Black Angus skirt steak and St. Louis Style ribs. Interestingly, there’s a heavy Lebanese influence here, and you can also find veggie-friendly Mediterranean options like falafel, and tabbouleh and fattoush salad. This restaurant is indeed a little place, a couple blocks off the city center.

La Fortuna town center, 100 meters south of Banco Popular

Marisquerias Snapper's House

Fresh ceviche at Snapper's House

Translated, a marisqueria is a seafood restaurant, and that’s mostly what this breezy open-air eatery does. Here you’ll find colorful and creative plates of Costa Rican seafood, often with a Caribbean twist. The options are enough to make your head spin and delight your stomach: ceviche, arroz con camarones (shrimp rice), fried tilapia, avocados stuffed with shrimp in seafood sauce, rib-eye surf and turf with langoustine, and much, much more. Many of the dishes you’ll find here are served with traditional Latin American/Caribbean staples like fried yucca and plantains. If you’re only eating here once during your stay in La Fortuna, go straight for the red snapper.

La Fortuna town center, one block south of the park

Nene’s Restaurant

The seafood soup at Nene's

Open for lunch and dinner, this restaurant really comes alive with creative plates of fried, steamed, and broiled fish and flambéed seafood. The menu is a monster, including everything from shrimp cocktails and ceviche to arroz con pollo, pasta, and burgers. And in case you're wondering, yes, they certainly do solid grilled steaks and chops. For dessert go for a Tico staple like tres leches cake or flan de coco (coconut flan). They also have a solid wine list featuring blends, cabs, pinots, and Chilean and Argentine standouts like Malbec and Carménere.

La Fortuna town center, 50 meters north of Farmacia El Pueblo

Rancho Perla

Get ready to dine al fresco at Rancho Perla

This local staple has been serving up hearty Costa Rican fare for years—and even though this is one of the most renowned eateries in town, it won’t break the bank. Some popular dishes on the menu include tuna ceviche, beef casado with plantains, and some of the best steaks in the area. Moreover, its open-air location at the edge of town and adjacent to some forest means you might just spot a sloth hanging from the nearby trees as you enjoy your meal.

Located on the northwest edge of town, next to Arenal Backpackers Resort

Soda La Parada

La Parada serves a wide variety of comfort food staples

In Costa Rica, there are traditional eateries called sodas, typically family-run and often found on the side of the road. One great soda in La Fortuna is La Parada. It’s a humble place with an extensive menu heavy on the favorites like steaks, pork chops, grilled chicken, and various rice dishes. But the menu goes on and on, featuring everything from pasta and pizza to burgers, seafood, and even fruit smoothies. They offer vegetarian plates here too.

La Fortuna town center, on the park