Located on the Central Valley’s western edge, Atenas is a slice of quintessential small town Costa Rica. Since the community is relatively rural the restaurants serve mostly simple Costa Rican style cuisine. As you get closer to San Jose, the countries capital, you’ll find more variety as well as upscale restaurants.


There is very good Italian with some delicious thin crusted pizza, American, Salvadorian, Mexican, empanada take away,  and local Costa Rican food. At Tico restaurants you will find local casado, a Costa Rican meal consisting of rice and beans , tortilla, a plantain and a salad and an optional entrée that may include chicken beef, pork or fish. We like to call it 4 starches and a protein.

Here is a list of some of our recommendations, many of which are also listed on Trip Advisor :

  1. Pizzeria La Finca – This place is one of our new favorites. A few nice salads and pastas are included along with the wide selection of super thin crust pizza. They also serve a nice selection of beer and wine , including some local artisanal beers. They also do take out if you need something quick after a long day out.
  2. La Casita del Cafe : Head up the main road (highway 3) past Atenas and towards Jaco and the beaches. As you reach the top of the hill – about a 10 minute drive, the cafe is on the left. It offers tremendous views of coffee fields, mountains and even the ocean on a clear day, as well as tasty but simple fare, coffee, and fruit drinks. It has become a bit of a tradition for us to head up there when we first arrive for a plate of arroz con pollo and a fruta mixto cafe or cerveza.
  3. La Trocha del Boyero : La Trocha is run by a Costa Rican family from the a Caribbean coast.The food is mostly fish, although there are some pork and chicken options a well.  Great cerviche, but beware, – most dishes are accompanied by  3 starches and the sauces can tend to be rich, albeit tasty.  La Trocha is past La Trilla down highway 3 (the road that leads into Atenas from the direction of the airport) than La Trilla, by about 200 meters on the right. You’ll see a coca cola/restaurant sign on the right side of the street – make that right and take it to the end where you will see La Trocha.
  4. La Esquina de Los Colonchos – This tiny spot is just take out and they special in large corn empanadas available with different fillings. We order our a arreglado which adds some fresh shredded cabbage salad, tomato and sauces.
  5. El Balcon de Cafe: This is one of the few places in town where a real cappuccino or latte is served
  6. Kay’s Gringo Postries : Kay’s is a local expat hangout and restaurant often mentioned as a favorite spot by past renters. It is just down the road right before the red cross on the left and offers all kinds of home-made comfort food options not often found in Costa Rica.
  7. La Trilla: This was a  local Atenas favorite for many years and has switched owners a few times. It’s very cute and located just next to the main gas station in town. It offers solid local comfort food like corvina al ajillo and  tasty soups.
  8. El Guanacaste Bar: This is a real local favorite – and probably on of the busiest restaurants in Atenas, at least every night we are there. They offer small plates of food – or bocas – similar to tapas style along with their standard menu. Take the road to Palmares/Grecia, which is just before the flashing yellow light on highway 3 in Atenas. The road will go down the hill and then up again winding to the left. Stay straight on that road for about 2 km until the road forks with a blue bar on the right. Bear right and follow the road to the right down the hill and then back up again – you will see the restaurant on the left as the road winds back up the hill again.
  9. Pupuseria La Fiesta De Las: Pupusas are Salvadorian corn pancakes stuffed with anything from shrimp, to pork to beans, or vegetables, even flowers. They are fairly large andor “Bocas” go well with the spicy pickled vegetables on the table. Nothing fancy, but yummy.
  10. Chicharronera don Yayo -This is a favorite of all the locals who live in the Atenas area and also for folks who are traveling to the Pacific Coast via the old road through the mountains. They have a variety of Tico food, including Casados and some very tasty Ceviche.
  11. Soda las Tres Hermanas : This is a small soda and local favorite located just to the side of the bus station building and across form the taxi stands. Delicious casados and breakfasts.
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