Restaurants of San Pedro: The Exclusive List

The last six weeks have had a lot to offer in terms of different cuisine, especially in San Pedro where we took our classes. So I thought I would do a deep dive into all the restaurants that had to deal with us during our sacred breaks.

Soda Yogui’s ~ 7/10

Yogui’s has all sorts of traditional Costa Rican dishes that’ll cost you about $5 and will be ready in less than 20 minutes. Great place to stop by and get a filling meal fast. My favorite dish there was the chicken fajitas, that always came served hot with white rice, beans and vegetables. The Tamarindo refresco was my favorite.

CRBF ~ 7/10

Eating at Costa Rican Beer Factory was always an experience. It’s a bit of a tourist spot, but they brew their own beers, and the inside of the restaurant is very colorful. One of my favorite memories from the first week was playing the giant Jenga setup they had to the side. The beer sampler is a must. A little pricey and takes a while to come out but the food never missed the mark.

Neko Sushi ~ 8/10

If your group ever finds itself half wanting pizza and the other half wanting sushi, this is the perfect spot. Neko also doubles as Amore Pizza, so you basically pick a menu once you get there. I only ever had the sushi myself, but it rivaled some of the better sushi places I’ve been to in the states. You’re missing out if you don’t try the edamame as an appetizer.

Olakino ~ 9/10

Whenever I didn’t feel like making hard decisions Olakino Café was my comfort place. The staff were always happy to serve us, and they’ve got a lot to offer on their menu. Great smoothies, sandwiches, and burgers. Some days after Spanish class the only thing I wanted in my life was an Ola Burger.

Rua ~ 8/10

We didn’t end up trying Rua until the last two weeks but I’m glad we did. They’ve got a lot of good street sandwiches/burgers and you could pick just about anything on the menu and be satisfied. They’ve also got their own lemonade brand that comes in a bunch of different flavors. Definitely worth the extra walk.

La Fabbrica ~ 9/10

I’m not sure there was a single week we didn’t go to La Fabbrica. The place was hardly a 5-minute walk and was always open. They’ve got a huge Italian menu with all sorts of pastas and pizzas I had never even seen in the states. You just can’t really go wrong with carbs.

Pizza Hut ~ 5/10

Actually you can go wrong with carbs. Every time I thought I wanted Pizza Hut I quickly realized why I never get Pizza Hut at home. Points for convenience and getting exactly what I ordered though. It’s like they say, no one out pizzas the hut.

Seneca Tea Co ~ 8/10

Not technically a restaurant but I thought it should make the list. This place has great bubble tea if you’re into that, and has lots of options for customization. Any day I was bringing bubble tea back to class was a great one.

Na Praia ~ 7/10

Na Praia is right in between La Fabbrica and Olakino so I’m surprised we didn’t try this place more often than once. It is only seafood though, so it’s not necessarily your first choice for lunch. They also have a huge seafood menu from sushi to poke to more traditional fish plates. Decent serving sizes too.

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Our second adventure and first 3-day weekend sought to check out Pacific town of Tamarindo, which we were told had some of the nicest beaches and surf spots on that side of the country. The second school was over Thursday 8 of us hopped in a bus and embarked. Costa Rica’s famously efficient highways turned our 4 hour trip into a 6 hour crawl, but we still arrived at a decent time. The owner of our rental this weekend gave us the actual location of the house instead of the riddle of directions we had last weekend, so it was already off to a great start. The first night was more relaxed, we hung out by the pool and got to know each other better. As a sophomore I feel like I had such little interaction with freshmen during the traditional school year, so it was cool to hear some of the freshmen’s stories. I am a bit jealous that they didn’t have to experience the horrors of East Campus during the height of the pandemic and the beloved C-Team.

We started our Friday with an appointment at Waffle Monkey, where Kyle got his waffle prescription. Afterwards we walked out onto the beach and got some sun. The Tamarindo beaches lived up to the hype, there was plenty to do right on the beach and enough space to where it didn’t feel too crowded. Palm trees lined the beach, it sort of felt like I was inside a postcard. We came back, cleaned up and went out for happy hour drinks and dinner. Our waiter Marcos was very friendly and even took a shot with the table. He recommended that we go check out the Crazy Monkey that night as it’s the place to be on a Friday night in Tamarindo. Lots of monkey themed restaurants.

On Marcos suggestion the 8 of us went out to the Crazy Monkey, and we all had a blast. The dancefloor was this elevated terrace off the main strand, complete with loud music and lasers. We must have had too much fun considering I woke up the next morning without my debit card and Charlotte lost her phone. Whoever had my debit card also had a fun night – racking up $250 in charges, including a comically large $45 McDonald’s order. If my conversion rates are right, I think that’s an 80 piece McNugget.

That same morning we went kayaking and snorkeling, which I’m glad Amanda booked for us. I hadn’t gone kayaking since a field trip in the seventh grade but Stewart and I made short work of the voyage to the little island destination. We also went snorkeling once we were on the island, which an experience to be had despite the water being a little too murky to see anything. The island itself was a cool sight, one side of the island was covered in bleached seashells once left by the tide. The tour guides were also very friendly and were eager to help us get the hang of things.

Me and Stew

Afterwards, the starving eight of us stumbled into a pizza restaurant, which was vaguely reminiscent of the famed La Fabbrica. We went back home to clean up and then circled back onto the beach to see the sunset. The boats on the water as the sun went down made for a really beautiful scene. We had ourselves a nice little dinner at this cantina-style restaurant and came back home for a more relaxed night.

Sunsets in Tamarindo

Sunday morning, we decided to hit the beach one last time before heading back to San Jose. Charlotte was really eager to try some surfing so her, Abbey, and I rented a board to share. Charlotte has surfed some before, so Abbey and I took turns wiping out, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to a give a shot so I still had a lot of fun drinking saltwater. We hurried back to the house to shower, and we were on our way back home. All in all, Tamarindo had a lot to offer, and I think if I found myself in Costa Rica again I would have Tamarindo at the top of my list. Definitely my favorite of the 3-day weekends.

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Manuel Antonio

Our first group excursion into the promising frontier of Costa Rica began only after one of the longest days I’ve had the pleasure/misfortune of experiencing. Between waking up at the crack of dawn, the coffee plantation tour, a quick hike into volcano clouds, a longer hike through the waterfall park, lunch that can only be described as Costa Rican Golden Corral, and wet clothes, it did not occur to me yet that the day was only halfway over on the bus ride back. After a brief (not really) emergency mission to retrieve my luggage for the weekend, I stumbled into a Subway in Heredia and our weekend had begun.

Soon thereafter, Webster dictionary had to be notified that the definition of ‘party bus’ had to be expanded. Originally, I had my doubts that my 12 friends could make a 3 hour hot bus ride the best part of the night, but after witnessing Andrew open his soul to Robbery by Juice WRLD I realized just how mistaken I was. But perhaps any situation is made exponentially better by boxed sangria.

As it turns out the perfect antidote to said sangria is having to provide directions in a language you aren’t fluent in. This was my first of many experiences being the group translator – which in retrospect, actually proved to help a lot with my conversation skills. I guess it was a little too optimistic to expect the rental home owner to send an exact location, but he did give the most beautiful description of where it should be. Which would’ve been fine if that’s where it actually was. After some painful bilingual back and forth between the driver, the owner, the guard, Gavin, and myself, we finally found the purple-tiled holy land. Apart from the fancy flooring, the property itself was actually pretty nice – plenty of room for 12 and windows all around facing the rainforest.

After 5 hours of sleep that could only be described as time travel, it was 9am and time to hit the national park. If there was thing I could change about this weekend it would’ve been to bring bugspray. Some four weeks later, my Manuel Antonio battlescars have me resembling a victim of smallpox. Apart from my lessons in entomology I also learned many things about the white-faced monkeys of Costa Rica. First being that they are more common than I expected, but the more important second being that these furry goblins go from cute to demonic the second they suspect you have snacks. The first beach in the park was picturesque: blue-green water and palm trees nestled in a small cove. It almost seemed as if the monkeys knew that this beach in particular was scenic enough to distract you from your belongings.

Beach at Manuel Antonio

Once we were all in the water, they launched their offense. Screaming ensued, both from the primate and human brigades. The monkeys made significant ground with their screech tactics, buying time to decide whether our clothes were edible. However, once the larger furless monkeys perfected their sand-throwing technology, a ceasefire was called and the ambush was fruitless.

lil demon

We rewarded our successful defense with a hearty meal, and $8 chips and guac that could’ve been replicated in the aisle of a grocery store. A much-needed nap was had, and we went out for dinner and drinks. We went this bar/restaurant called El Avion, that had a bar inside a mock-airliner. We then took our chances on this club called Drunken Monkey, which had a cool vibe with bright lights and a fog machine, but music that wasn’t enough to keep you there for more than an hour. I did learn though that gravity doesn’t apply to Stewart on a stripper pole, so that alone was worth the experience.

Sunday had high hopes. After going the nearby café with a nice view of the canopy/beach, we were going to have some quality time on a secluded beach and wrap up our 2-day adventure. Despite these illusions, a quick lesson was dealt in expectation versus reality. I made the mistake of bringing my clothes in my carry-on, which had to be awkwardly rolled once we were kicked out of the rental home. A 15-minute walk to Biesanz beach quickly became very sweaty, and to add insult to injury my carry-on decided to give up before me and lose one of its wheels. After carrying my suitcase the rest of the way, we quickly learned how deceptive Google Maps is with its photos. The water was a bit dirty and was quite packed. The plus side was that a stray dog adopted me for the afternoon and sat next to me. We tried to shower on the way back up but somehow, I think I came out more dirty than when I entered. After standing in the street for an hour, the 13 of us loaded up on the bus to head back to San Jose. Despite the workout and wet clothes, I would still say it was a fun adventure. I enjoyed the whole living a week’s worth of events within a weekend, despite how tiring it can be.

Emilio’s Cafe

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Surfs Up II: Electric Boogaloo – Surfer’s Perspective

Although Graham’s post on this was amazing, I wanted to give my own thoughts on this onc  e in a lifetime experience. My one desire throughout this trip was to have a beach day with some watersport activities, particularly windsurfing. Unfortunately, I couldn´t go to Lake Arenal to windsurf because of covid, and to be completely honest I was pretty disappointed. However, my mood improved after Sam and Sky convinced me to try some surfing in Puerto Viejo. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about learning something totally new in an unfamiliar place, but I am glad to say that surfing was some of the most fun that I have ever had on the beach.

Under the master tutelage of Sky, I picked up the basics and technique fairly quickly, and I was out on the water 10 minutes after renting the board. At first, I wiped out more times than I could count, and worst of all, after the fifth wipeout or so I realized that the 2 fins sheared right off the board—nowhere to be found.

As we walked back to the surf shop, Sky told me that it was no big deal, but she sounded very dubious about the quality of the fins. We explained our situation to the surf shop employee, but he was quite livid, especially considering how passionately Sky expressed her doubts and frustration over the quality of the fins. After some bickering and the occasional machismo comment over how I let my ¨girlfriend¨ talk too much, we paid to get the fins fixed and were back on the water.
With each wave and wipeout, I improved, and soon after I was finally getting up on the board. For the next hour and a half, Sky and I had an absolute blast—with the occasional warning from Graham that the current was taking us out a bit far. Although surfing was not on my original itinerary for the trip, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to try something new and discover another exciting hobby. I can not thank Sky, Graham, and Madison enough for accompanying me and for making Puerto Viejo the best excursion of this trip.

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What I did in the hospital (super exciting)

Here is  my second blog post. I’m writing it immediately after writing the first but a girl is trying her best. I don’t know what to write so here is  a list of everything i did in the hospital for four days:

  1. had la fabrica twice, the exact meal twice – vodka pasta
  2. watched 15 episodes of brooklyn 99
  3. did not eat for 30 hours because i wasn’t allowed to
  4. started 3 movies but did not finish any of them
  5. did not do any homework nor did I take the final
  6. took two showers
  7. got two shots in my stomach
  8. watched spider man 1,2, and 3. The originals with Toby Maguire.

really thats all it was pretty boring.

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Andrew Dawson saved the day

I’m writing my first blogpost on the day that our class ended. I did not take the final today, which was a win. But a big loss was my four day vacation in the hospital. Despite all the interesting moments i have had in hospital la catolica, I am going to share about a miraculous experience, unlike any other, that I was able to witness this trip. A couple weeks ago, 14 of us took a bus, which only fit 13, to puerto viejo. After 5 hours of discomfort, sweat, and starvation, we finally arrived to our oasis of an air b n b. There was one main house, and one separate cabin, which abbey and I stayed in. Little did we know this decision was going to be catastrophic. Fast forward a couple hours and some food, we were all in the pool relaxing. I decided to grab something from our cabin and blissfully shut the door while walking out, forgetting the fact that the keys were inside and the door automatically locked. Tragedy had struck. But who came to the rescue? no one but andrew dawson. Andrew Dawson, with some help from Stewart, separated the broom from the stick, used the stick to poke threw the small window above the door, and after about 10 minutes of finagling, he unlocked the door. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and a true testament to duke engineering.

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Located on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo had some of the best food I ate all trip, and was one of the only real life application of engineers all trip: sandcastle construction. Finally all those years of grinding Minecraft had there use, to fuel my grand idea for an bonkers build of pure sand and sticks. After situating ourselves upon the ominous black beach, ill prepared for the torrents of waves and rising tide that would be pitted against us, we began construction of our great vision. The first order was business was establishing a line of defense to protect the castle and its people from the vicious whims of Poseidon. Ergo, a wall and trench were erected, establishing the basis of a perimeter fully equipped with drainage services and a small reservoir of sea water to be later utilized for adding moisture and rigidity to the sands otherwise fluid nature. Next were the foundations upon which the glorious castle were to be built. Lead engineering Josh, along with myself, began collected feasible lumber upon which the hollowed grounds would be established. After creating an outline and delineating the various components of the castle, the building soon began with my dawgs as excavators, my hands as bricklayers, and my mind as the execution of Josh’s and I’s glorious envisage for the future of the world. It was hard, grueling work. Sweat beads rolling and perspiration plentiful, the strenuous manual labor under the tropical sun fatigued the mind muscles. Unequipped with any sun cream and only a few crisps to sustain the caloric deficit, our minds started to waver: is it even possible? How much will be sacrificed in pursuit of this preposterous vision of glory and wealth? Yet through sheer grit and determination we trudged on sculpting and molding the pulverized chaotic pebbles into a magnificent and coveted mountain of sand. Rising to new magnitudes of height, with the highest point towering an near theoretical impossible two feet, held together by the sweat and tears of the lives that lost there life in its construction. It the end, it still looked like a pile of manure, but on the heavens, it was the most magnificent pile of manure I have ever had the pleasure of looking at. In the end, the lessons learned were put on some damn sunscreen and only when you reach success do others flock to see your creation.


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Costa Rican Chronicles Part 3: Rocky Balboa’d

Now, for the story you’ve all been waiting to hear. For those of you not caught up in my journey, please see Costa Rican Chronicles Part 2: Coronavirus Catastrophe for context. Now that you’re caught up, let me set the scene for you. After fighting demons in quarantine, battling the virus, and trying to stay on top of my course work for a week (3 hour classes + Covid != a good time), I wanted nothing more than to have a fun night with the boys. My amigos had spent the past week living it up in La Fortuna, hiking through the jungle at night, seeing wildlife, and generally having a better time than watching spiders on the wall. Naturally, I wanted to do something big this coming weekend. We were planning on going to Puerto Viejo, one of the most touristy areas in the country known for its beautiful beaches. I was hyped to spend a weekend away from work and finally on the beach. To celebrate a weekend well deserved, we decided to go clubbing on a Thursday night. This also happens to be Salsa night at our favorite club, so busting out our new moves sounded like a great start to this movie of a weekend.

As one does in San Jose on clubbing night, the squad and I rolled up to an establishment to acquire some refreshments. This particular place had been recommend to us by a local because they do “las bebidas novedosas”. We pulled up to the establishment dressed in flamboyant salsa apparel and the vibes were immediately ~interesting~. The place was small and crowded. It was a group of 10 of us and then a group of maybe 12 locals. The locals were all dressed in formal-ish apparel, pants + nice shirts, while we were wearing loud shirts and shorts. For perspective, I was wearing a bright pink shirt with lemons on it. Anyways, we looked over to the massive screen across the counter and saw rows and rows of beverage names. “Thor”, “Buzz Lightyear”, “Terminator”, “Top Gun”, the list went on. There was no description of what you actually were ordering, just some range of 1-5 skull and crossbones next to the name.

My one friend ordered a “Top Gun”. I was surprised to see them load a water pistol with the beverage and shoot it across the counter into his mouth. It was quite the sight, and he said that it was really tasty. Another friend ordered “El infierno de Dante”. This time, the beverage attendant motioned for us to step back. After a pause to figure out what they were saying in Spanish, the entire countertop burst into flames. They then proceeded to throw some powder onto the flames that caused them to leap and crackle. When the fire cleared out, there was a small glass cup in the center of the table containing a smoking dark red liquid. I was later told that it tasted like cinnamon. Finally, it was my turn.

As the line finally made its way to me, I was beginning to panic. I had spent so much time watching the shows associated with everyone else’s orders that I hadn’t made my own mind up! The attendant asked me in rapid Spanish what I wanted, and I panicked. I looked to the board and said the first thing that caught my eye.

“Rocky Balboa!” I shouted, not even attempting to ask politely in Spanish.

The woman looked at me with a devilish smirk and started chuckling to herself. She took my card and let the other male beverage attendant know what I had just ordered. The man looked over at me, threw his head back in laughter, and then grabbed a ladder. He climbed to a shelf behind the counter and grabbed me my “props” for the show I had ordered. To my despair, he handed me a boxing helmet and a table bell.

As I looked down at the items placed in front of me, the man was already at work fixing my beverage. I glanced back at the screen and saw 5 skulls next to my drink. This was what I paid for, so there was no going back now. I donned my helmet with pride, representing all Coastal Ohioans with true bravery. The master mixologist placed my order in front of me and then proceeded to put on a boxing glove. As you could probably tell by now, I was about to get my s**t rocked.

And so I did. With a roar of cheer from my friends, I chugged my beverage in record time and took the wallop like a champ. Well, not really. The force of the punch knocked my off of my feet and I fell backwards into my buddy’s arms. All was good though, and I got up only slightly dazed and confused. My friends cheered, and we headed to the club to go dancing. We had a good time, but stayed out much too late. We realized at around 2am that our van to Puerto Viejo was leaving at 5am, so we probably should have left the club 3 hours ago. Oh well, as we say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida! Tune in next week to the epic finale to read about the horror movie that was Puerto Viejo in Costa Rican Chronicles Part 4: Concussed, Chaos, and the Costa Rican Flu!

Shoutout to Rohan Bose

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A Return to the Beach

For our final weekend getaway in Costa Rica, we decided to take a trip to the classic tourist location of Manuel Antonio. For this trip, we decided to leave and head to Manuel Antonio Thursday afternoon, which I highly recommend because being already in place to go do stuff Friday morning was a whole lot of fun. In fact, Friday morning we were able to take a catamaran around the beach and shoreline, which was incredibly fun. The views were incredible, the water was super pretty, and we even got to see some wildlife including some whales and a turtle. We also did some snorkeling while on the catamaran, during which it was really fun to dive way below the waves and see what was down there.

After the catamaran, we went back and spent some more time on the beach. Once again, the water was very nice, so I spent a good amount of time splashing about in the waves. Eventually, in the afternoon it started raining. Because there was no lightning or thunder, we just decided to stay in the water and play with a frisbee we borrowed from the local lifeguards. There is something different about being in the rain and inside a body of water at the same time that enhances both experiences, and coupling the two with frisbee made for a very enjoyable afternoon.

On the next day, Saturday, however, we did something truly special. Namely, a group of 9 of us decided that we wanted to sign our lives away and jump out of an airplane. Not going to lie, I was nervous about doing it initially, but I am so glad that I was able to do it. The experience of jumping out of the plane was incredible, and I absolutely loved every minute of it! And as a plus, we got some really neat photos and videos out of it!

For the rest of the trip, we mostly just hung out about the house and the beach. We did try getting pizza from a Chinese food place… that went about as well as you might suspect. Some of us even tried to do homework… But others (including myself) were unsuccessful in the attempt. Nevertheless, we had an awesome weekend of skydiving and beach sitting, all wrapped in one package.

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Whole Lotta Monkeys

We left San Jose on Thursday afternoon after class. We stopped for dinner where I ate a scrumptious Filete de Pollo Casado and a truly authentic Costa Rican beverage- Coca Cola. We arrived at our AirBnB at around 10pm, settled in, and went to bed. I woke up early because my room was surrounded on 3 sides by huge windows. The view of the jungle around us was breathtaking, and I could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Manuel Antonio National Park

A bus picked us up later that morning. We headed to a marina and then boarded a large catamaran. All of us sat down on the upper deck of the boat while it toured around the coast. We got to see a few whales! Eventually, we reached a relatively shallow area where we could go snorkeling. I swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time while snorkeling. The boat also had platforms on the upper deck for jumping in the water and a water slide. The catamaran trip was amazing, and we came back to the marina about 2 hours later.

We ate lunch at home, then walked about half a mile down the road to a public beach. I got to try a fresh coconut for the first time, and it was a life-changing experience. The lifeguards at the beach also let us borrow a football for a bit. Tossing the football was such a simple thing but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. I had a blast at the beach. The waves were a lot more intense than the ones at Puerto Viejo, but they were a lot of fun. Some people went back home, but a group of us stayed at the beach for a while longer. We ate dinner at a restaurant called “El Avion,” and I had a delicious fried seafood platter. Everyone returned home together, where we baked brownies and cookies. We had a very fun and relaxing night after a busy day.

Monkey on tha roof

The next day, we woke up early for an epic adventure- skydiving. Never in my life did I think I would jump out of a plane, let alone in Costa Rica. The skydiving company sent 3 taxis to pick up our group of 9. We arrived at the skydiving facility, signed our lives away, and put on the harnesses. My dawg Ryan Wence (#WeDemBoyzNation #HowBoutDemCowboyz) and I were the last pair to go. We sat down in a small plane, fastened to our skydiving instructors. The views on the way up were so amazing that I completely forgot to be scared in any capacity. Once the door opened up, I felt like I was in a dream. The moment our feet left the plane, there was a bit of fear followed by a great sense of awe. I was free-falling thousands of feet above the Costa Rican landscape, taking in the incredible scenery. Before I knew it, the parachute was deployed. My instructor Gabriel let me control the parachute on the way down. I felt like I was in Fortnite. I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once we touched down.

Later that day, we went to Manuel Antonio national park. Unfortunately, we arrived about an hour before the park closed. We savored the views as much as we could in that short time, but we all had a great time. After leaving the park, I had another fresh coconut. There were also a whole lotta monkeys just chilling right outside the park. I like monkeys. We got home and ordered pizza after an exhausting and epic day.

On Sunday, a few of us went to the beach while others stayed back at home. We enjoyed the waves for a bit, but had to leave because it was about to rain. A van picked us up and we headed back to San Jose. Once again, that weekend was an absolute movie.




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