It’s true that Tamarindo has food options for every taste – especially the organic-artisanal-gourmet-locavore-vegan crowd – but how often have you seen a soda with traditional Guanacastecan food at affordable prices?
In the middle of an alley that juts off of the famous Tamarindo roundabout (where the restaurant Fiesta del Mar is located) is a little open-air place that is spacious, cool, and offers traditional Guanacastecan food to tourists and locals alike.
It’s called Sazón Criollo and the administrator, Eline Espinoza, is a hardworking Guanacastecan who fought for six years to get official permission from the municipality. She didn’t rest until she got it. When we visited her, the place had opened three days ago and we ate corn rice (arroz de maiz).
Eline doesn’t just have a good attitude, but she also has enviable talents in the kitchen. She makes the corn rice (made with a base of ground corn with chicken broth and natural spices), which is like a caress on your palate due to its thick texture and perfect serving temperature (I love it when I don’t burn my tongue).
The dish comes in a large bowl with a big piece of green plantain and a natural fruit drink, all for ¢2,500.
That is the price for all of the daily specials. On Mondays they offer arroz con pollo, Thursdays and Saturdays gallina achiotada (chicken with annato), Fridays meatball soup (Eline’s favorite), and on Sundays olla de carne (a stew-like dish).
Eline also uses some of her own recipes. For example, her torta de la abuela is her mother’s recipe. This dish has handmade tortillas, hearty beans, and an egg with natural spices and flavors.
If you’d prefer granola with yogurt or some banana pancakes, you’ll find them here. All breakfasts cost ¢2.500.
Another menu highlight is the fish. It’s always fresh because Eline’s partner is a fisherman. You’ll find fish in ceviche (¢3.500), a casado (¢3.500), fish fingers (¢3.300) and whole fried fish (¢5,000).
“We wanted to do something different. Here [in town] you can find a little bit of everything, except for traditional Guanacastecan cuisine. That’s what we want to do here: help tourists get to know our culture,” she says with pride.
The Good: The restaurant is spacious and cool.
The Bad: It’s closed on Wednesdays.