I found the Salty Pelican because a friend recommended it to a friend who told me that I had to go. As I was arriving in a tuk-tuk, I figured this would be a typical American restaurant: rock and roll, high-backed chairs, a screen showing a baseball game, and waitresses dressed in shorts. However, when I walked in, it was something else entirely. Small wooden chairs, a smoker outside, bachata blasting on the sound system, a bar full of Ticos (with beers in hand who had gotten off work at five. On the TV: An America Cup game.
The menu was in a corner, handwritten in chalk. Some words I recognized, others I didn’t. When I read Pulled Pork Sandwich, I felt safe.
Kyle Christopher, the restaurant’s owner, has tattoos and a worn-out hat. He sits with me and amiably asks me what I’d like to drink in an unmistakable Southern accent. I say water, but please bring me the pulled pork sandwich. He suggests that I should try the Brunswick stew. Frankly, I didn’t understand him, but I said yes because his eyes sparkled with pride. While Kyle cooks, Terry Christopher relieves him in the conversation. Terry is his wife. She’s blonde, slight, and happy.
They married 20 years ago, are from Georgia, and have three kids. The first to come to Costa Rica was the middle child, who came to Playa Grande and Nosara to surf. Then Kyle and Terry fell in love with the Costa Rica that their son described, and they decided that they had to check it out. Their first trip here was ten years ago, and they saw the same places that their son had described. They also saw a property that moved something in their hearts. Today it is their home and their way of making a living.
The Brunswick stew tastes like solace for the spirit (as Isabel Allende might say). It has potatoes, beans, sweet corn, and shredded pork and chicken. The sauce is a homemade BBQ blend with tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, a touch of smoky flavor, and something that tastes like Christmas to me. I don’t recognize this last flavor so I ask Terry. She says it’s nutmeg.
The pulled pork sandwich came with potato salad. I hadn’t eaten anything like this in a long, long time. It tastes like dill and mustard and some other secret ingredient that I couldn’t figure out. The pork is tender; they smoke it for 12 hours, and you can tell. All that’s missing from perfection is homemade bread, but I realize that it’s hard to find good bread in Guanacaste.
For the Christophers, their main motivation for opening this place was to offer young people like their son at that time a place where they can come and eat good food without breaking the bank. And they did it. Salty Pelican is perfect for many people: backpackers, luxury-seeking tourists, locals, and expats.
Address: Next to Super Nosara in downtown Nosara
- Meat is smoked for 12 hours.
- Homemade desserts.
- The sandwich bread isn’t the best
- Closed Wednesdays.
- Brunswick stew: ¢3,500 ($7)
- Pulled pork sandwich: ¢3,500 ($7)
- Cookies: Two for ¢1,000 ($2)