Best Places to Eat in the Chirripo Valley
The Chirripo area is known for its impressive network of hiking trails, stunning views, exotic bird watching, gorgeous waterfalls, premontane forests and their great diversity of species. Chirripo derives from an indigenous word meaning " land of eternal waters'', and the Chirripo National Park lies towards the northern end of one of the most important biological zones of all Central America.
What is happening on the culinary front? The dynamic food scene of the Chirripo Valley abounds with unique flavors that make dining in the area an adventure of itself. My family and I love to eat out in the Chirripo area with our friends in the community.
Here are some of my favorite places to eat…
Batsu Gastro Pub
A favorite of many locals and long time residents, centrally located in the village of Canaan de Rivas, Batsu offers very good food for very good prices. Once known as the village local dive bar, Bar Estrella, the Navaro family, forever residents of Canaan, have transformed the space into an inviting eatery. During open hours you are guaranteed to run into friends, listen to live music, or experience one of the many musically talented locals perform during open mic.
Batsu is open everyday of the week for lunch and dinner. Indoor and outdoor dining.
Visit their website to take a peek at their menu https://batsugastropub.com/
My personal favorite: Batsu Ceviche.This ceviche isn’t your traditional ceviche. The combination of watermelon, cucumber, red onion, and trout soaked in a blend of soy sauce, sesame, and citrus only gets better as it is served with warm patacones (fried plantains smushed into the perfect shape to scoop this ceviche into your mouth) wasabi, and ginger. This is the perfect fusion of Asian and traditional Costa Rican flavors artfully presented in a martini glass with crispy fried trout skin. Yum. *Pictured above.
Favorite main dish: Pollo Batsu. This dish is a delightful combination of breaded fried chicken, stuffed with local goat cheese, apples, fresh basil, and is bathed in a creamy white sauce, garnished generously with parsley and served with two sides of your choice.
Next door to Batsu is the local artisanal bakery. Owned by the same family as Batsu, the bakery is a lovely place to enjoy a coffee, buy artisanal bread, or enjoy a sweet treat.
The bakery is open from 8:30am to 5pm everyday.
My favorite dessert: Tres Leches. It is a classic Costa Rican tres leches that fulfills all cravings for something creamy and sweet.
A favorite place to hang out on a warm summer afternoon, Robino’s is a bird watcher’s paradise. A variety of birds including large Cusingas visit daily to feast on bananas carefully placed on bird feeders at the back balcony of the restaurant. You are literally eating with the birds! Robino’s is operated by a very sweet, French-Canadian, father and daughter team. It is conveniently located on the main road in the village of San Gerardo de Rivas across from the church.
Robinos is open seasonally, everyday from 12 noon to 8pm.
My personal favorite: All of the lemon-aids are absolutely refreshing. The pizza's hit the spot, but definitely save room for dessert. My favorite is the lemon pie served with ice cream. It's so delicious!
This eco-mercado and organic grocery store has an inviting cafe that offers the best vegetarian and vegan options in the Chirripo Valley. Every Saturday night, the cafe hosts an open mic, from 5:30 to 8pm, bringing the community together for live entertainment. Their friendly staff provides top notch service, and the owners are very attentive with the customers. Located on the main road in San Gerardo de Rivas, Kapi Kapi sets itself apart by offering delicious breakfast options and Sushi on Sundays.
Kapi Kapi is open everyday from 10am-7pm.
My personal favorite: Eggs Benny. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Eggs Benedict any time of the day. Kapi Kapi’s version of this classic breakfast dish satisfies with its rich hollandaise sauce and instead of Canadian bacon, the eggs are served over smoked trout. Gluten free options are always available. Kapi Kapi also offers the best healthy drink menu with fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and hot fancy beverages such as the Golden Sun Milk, Golden Moon Milk, or Rose Chai.
The restaurant with the longest life span on the mountain, the Roca Dura, stands tall in the center of San Gerardo near the village pulperia (local mini grocery store). My favorite part of the Roca Dura has always been the ambiance. Its high wooden ceilings, rustic seating arrangements, mountain views from all around, and direct view of the soccer field makes it a family favorite. The owner of the Roca Dura, Don Luis, has created a truly special space and favorite of many locals.
Roca Dura is open everyday of the week from 8am to 8pm.
My personal favorite: The whole fried trout with french fries and salad. I don’t know how they do it, but the skin on this whole fried trout is perfectly seasoned and crispy while the inside remains tender and juicy. Roca Dura offers traditional drinks like “agua dulce” , a hot tea made with tapa dulce (locally made sugar with a special history linked to this mountain).
You’ll need to plan ahead and make a dinner reservation for Descanso, but it will be well worth it. Descano’s concept is traditional Costa Rican flavors with a gourmet flare. The founder of the restaurant, Fransico Elizondo, is a professional athlete, a runner who holds the record of running the famous race to the summit of Chirripo, thirty-three times! He can still be seen running through the mountains while his daughter runs the restaurant.
Descanso is typically open from 4:30pm to 8pm and is located on the main road in San Gerardo de Rivas.
My personal favorite: The tangerine and rosemary grilled chicken served with sweet potato fries. Save room for dessert! The chocolate volcano, a mouthwatering, rich, decadent cake that oozes warm chocolate when you cut through it.
Located off of the main road into San Gerardo up a steep driveway, El Pelicano, has an ambiance reminiscent of a cozy mountain ski lodge. The outside terrace is a favorite spot to park, eat, and birdwatch during sunset and the inside seating near the fireplace is an ideal spot to warm up on cold evenings. El Pelicano is owned and operated by the Elizondo family.
El Pelicano is open from 7am to 9am for breakfast and from 11:30am to 8pm for lunch and dinner. Visit their website for more information https://hotelpelicano.com/nuestras_instalaciones/restaurante-dona-elsa/
My personal favorites: The guacamole served with yuca crisps, the pumpkin soup with housemade croutons, and the traditional arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp).
FABRICATING EXCEPTIONAL DISHES, power couple Luke and Becca, gardening and kitchen gurus, offer a farm to table frozen food selection from their location in Los Angeles de Rivas. The FED menu features your favorite ethnic flavors such as dhals and curries, unfound here in the Southern Zone alongside some classic comfort foods like chicken pot pie.
FED is a pick up service where you get to take food home and enjoy it in the comfort of your own space. Therefore, it is recommended to contact the owner via WattsApp with your order and to coordinate your pick up time.
My personal favorite: Meat & Veggie Pot Stickers. These pot stickers are easy to prepare and fun to eat. My favorites are the sauces they're eaten with: gyoza, kecap manis, or nam pla prik.
Located in San Gerardo on the road going to Herradura, the Cafe at the Secret Garden offers typical Costa Rican flair amidst a beautiful tranquil setting. The owners, Bernan and his wife, have truly created a sanctuary worth experiencing. The Secret Garden, besides its eatery, is a botanical garden with many native and exotic plants as well as a regenerative forest. The property has five natural springs which lead to eight ponds with oriental style gardens where you can view exuberant aquatic plants and strikingly colorful flowers. A trail takes you through the gardens to a viewpoint at the top of the property where you can see views of Chirripo National Park and high peaks such as Cerro Ventisqueros, the country's second highest peak.
The Secret Garden is open everyday from 8am to 6pm.
My personal favorite: Gallo Pinto: rice and beans with eggs and sweet plantain. This is a great spot to enjoy a typical Costa Rican breakfast.
Garden House Bird Observatory
Garden House Bird Observatory, located in upper San Gerardo de Rivas before the entry point to CloudBridge Nature Reserve, is a small Tico home converted into a cafe, AirBnB, and bird watchers paradise. Owned by a Tico family and long time residents of the area, Garden House is an ideal spot to stop in after a long hike in the reserve. There are a variety of options of hot beverages, shakes, sweet treats, artisanal pizzas, and more!
Their operating hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00am to 6:00pm for the cafe, and every day for AirBnB guests with reservations. It is worth a stop in if you are on your way to CloudBridge Nature Reserve!
My personal favorite: Vegan Artisanal Pizza. Chris, the owner, puts so much dedication and love in his food you can taste it!