Enrique (Kique) Lopez Barrantes and his brother Andres have expanded the popular offerings of Il Peperoni in Pelada to the turtle refuge town of Ostional. The Lopez brothers opened Las Tortugas, a small restaurant in the center of Ostional next to Bar Las Brisas at the beginning of August.
They offer a small menu but filled with Il Peperoni favorites, like pizza, fresh fish carpaccio, ceviche and Caesar salad. Because of the roadside location in a town with frequent short term visitors to see the turtles or go surfing, the Lopez’s also offer meat tacos, burritos, hamburgers, pork ribs and a variety of salads.
“We want to continue with something similar to Il Peperoni with accessible prices and quick food,” said Kique, who has been a chef in local restaurants for the past 20 years. For example, his burritos are just 2,000 colones and tacos are 1,500 colones, while arroz con pollo is 3,500 colones.
Las Tortugas’ menu features over a dozen different pizzas, ranging from the Margarita for 4,500 colones to the Pizza de la Casa for 6,500 colones. The popular Hawaiian is 5,200 colones and the Vegetarian is 5,700 colones.
Andres said customers always ask for fresh fish and they have a local source. “We like to buy fresh from the local fisherman, not from Puntarenas, if we can,” Kique added. The brothers also offer more elaborate dishes such as Lomito Jalapeño made with filet mignon and seafood soup and seafood rice.
“It’s an expansion, to extend our restaurants along the coast. Maybe one day we’ll go to Samara,” Kique said with a smile. “But it is a small place and small kitchen so we are starting with a limited menu. We may add more pastas and vegetarian plates after awhile,” he said. The brothers said that they also want to build a wood fired pizza oven out back if they have a successful year.
Las Tortugas’ regular hours are from 12:00 noon to 10:00 pm every day. But during arribadas (when the turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs each month), the restaurant will open for breakfast at 5:00 am with fresh coffee, gallo pinto and eggs, fruit and toast.
“Our doors are open to help the town of Ostional,” Kique said. “The tourists can come see the turtles and get their cafecito. The volunteers can eat here on their days off. The locals can get pizza. We want to work with all the organizations in Ostional to support their conservation efforts. Ostional is a very organized town,” Kique said with admiration.
Kique works at Il Peperoni every other week to help keep that operation going, while Andres is regularly stationed at the new Las Tortugas.