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Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

West Melbourne...
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Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

Hi all! Our trip is finally right around the corner :) We'll be in Costa Rica next Saturday (September 6th). Yay!! Just had a couple of logistic and recommendation questions. We land at 10:20am on Saturday and are headed to La Fortuna. By the time we go through customs, get the rental car, and factor in that home is 2 hours ahead, I'm sure we'll be ready for lunch by the time we hit the road. Any recommendations for a nice lunch spot along the way? It doesn't have to be fancy as we would probably like to eat fairly quickly so that we get our driving done as early in the day as possible.

Speaking of driving, I understand there are two different main ways to get from SJO to La Fortuna. I've seen different forums recommending different things but the hotel provided directions on both ways, but really just want to know which one is the safest and easiest. Along with stopping for lunch, we'd like to stock up on a few snacks and a case of bottled water for the rest of our trip. Is there a good place to stop along the way, or does one usually just wait until they get into La Fortuna? Are basics like protein bars or other snack items quite a bit more expensive than in the US or about the same? (We'll probably bring a few things along these lines with us but don't want to waste too much space in our luggage on things we could just as easily get there).

Lastly, I'm also looking for a lunch recommendation on the drive between La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio. We plan to leave by 7 or 8 in the morning that day, so we would be open to pretty much anywhere along the way since we should have adequate time to stop and enjoy lunch. We do plan on stopping to see the crocodiles in Tarcoles. Also, I love being on/near the ocean so wouldn't mind eating lunch in a "beachy" type place.

Thanks in advance for your help and insights!

Kingman, Arizona
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1. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

Hola Kayla W,

I always recommend a GPS for both the directions it gives and other information like grocery stores, restaurants, one lane bridges etc.. Food costs are higher here unless you're buying beans, rice of coffee.

You can buy some US snacks like Ritz, Oreos, Smokehouse Almonds, but you'll need to be in store that caters to both locals and expats .. the Costa Rican brands are good, just a little different and are worth a try while you're here.

Once you're going south after passing the Tarcoles River, there will be an Auto Mercado store in Herradura ,just before Jaco.. They have a great selection of deli meats, cheeses, wine and other beverages both imported and national brands.

If you get out of the airport and are hungry for lunch, there is a Rosti Pollo across the street and in the same area as several of the rental car offices.. they have the best open fire roasted rotisserie chicken in the country.

I'm sure others will offer other suggestions as well....

Pura vida and enjoy!

Randy

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

If you are hungry once you get off your flight, there is a neat little restaurant right at the airport. It's called "Malinche" and once you exit the terminal, turn right and walk down the sidewalk. You will see some tables and chairs outside. Great food and reasonable prices. Also - mostly authentic Costa Rican food so you get that "first taste."

Otherwise, once you get to San Ramon, (about an hour or so from the airport) there is a shopping center where there are several restaurants to choose from. If you are going to Arenal by way of San Ramon, it works. If you are going the other way -- the shopping center is only about 100 meters off Rt 1 so still very convenient.

As for which way to go -- they are very similar so really up to you. You can't go wrong whichever way you choose.

Edited: 8:08 am, August 28, 2014
West Melbourne...
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3. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

Thanks for the restaurant suggestions!! Is there maybe a market or grocery store in that shopping center in San Ramon? We'd like to at least pick up a case of bottled water and maybe some fruit.

What about suggestions for good travel snacks/meal replacements? We definitely plan on trying lots of local cuisine, but there are some days our tours leave before the hotels serve breakfast, so we want something quick and easy and also to have in our daypacks for snacks. I know snack preference varies person to person but I'm struggling with what to bring. There's lots of snack/protein bars that we like, but I'm kind of afraid they'll get all melty. I really like pre-popped popcorn as a snack like Skinny Pop or ChiaPop but I think it would get crushed in our bags. We're not big into snacky stuff like chips or cookies. My husband suggested oatmeal packets but I'm not sure that there would be a microwave or tea kettle in our rooms. Just looking for suggestions because I'm coming up blank on what we should bring.

Costa Rica
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4. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

Yes, there is a supermarket in the shopping center at San Ramon.

Many hotels will put together a "to go" breakfast for you if you leave before their normal breakfast hours. Ask about this once you check in. And be sure to let them know the day before so they can put something together for you.

You can buy protein bars in many many places in Costa Rica, including supermarkets and small "tiendas." One possibility: Buy some granola (also readily available) and one of the small containers of milk that needs no refrigeration. If you have a refrigerator in your hotel room, buy yogurt to go with your granola. Also -- buy a bunch of fruit and maybe even some good bran cookies. There are bakeries pretty much everywhere, but most of them don't have many quality items, frankly. Mostly very sugary and puff pastry type things. If you like peanut butter - you can buy some decent multi-grain bread in the supermarket and make sandwiches. You can also find some good crackers -- I like the sesame seed ones and there are several whole grain choices. Small block of good cheese is nice to have.

Spend some time in the supermarket and you will see what's available. Email your lodging to see if they have microwave or coffee maker or refrigerator in your room. Many hotels have a small refrigerator if not the other two. Maybe bring a small, soft-sided "cooler" - the kind you might use to take your lunch to work. This way, you can keep stuff cold for a little while. Even if the hotel doesn't have a refrigerator, you can buy a small bottle of juice, drink it and fill it with water and ask the hotel to freeze it for you and it will be all set for the next day.

Edited: 12:10 pm, August 29, 2014
Kingman, Arizona
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5. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

one option I always opt for is fresh fruit ... they're the best in the world here.. bananas, oranges, mamon chino are those that need no preparation or knife .. there are also imported apples, and grapes that make great to go foods and need no refrigeration ... The pineapples, watermelons, mangoes and papayas are also great but need a little work to peel or cut into ...

Pura vida and enjoy,

Randy

Edited: 12:22 pm, August 29, 2014
San Jose, Costa Rica
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6. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

Just follow Hatties advice she really knows our country…and she drives around a lot…

Driving in Costa Rica is great…just common sense…keep good driving distances….try not to drive at dark…until you feel really confident…you do not need a GPS…but can be nice to have one…

Road from San Ramon to La Fortuna some high road shoulders…but road in great condition…

roadadvisor

Kingman, Arizona
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7. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

I highly recommend anyone driving to have a Costa Rican GPS ... you'll be able to find out of the way restaurants, markets, public offices, banks and atm's etc ...

pura vida and enjoy,

Randy

San Jose, Costa Rica
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8. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

Nice to have some road maps…your rent a car will gladly give you one…kind of basic…but they will do the job…some of this road maps…printing by ICT and CONAVI specifications…perfect of course NO… but they work?? YES!!

I have been driving around my country for well over 45 years…and a lot of more when I did have to drive with my grandpa or my father…roads are better that ever…trust me it take more than 5 years and or 90 days to know ALL our roads…

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in PARADISE

roadadvisor

Edited: 5:39 pm, August 29, 2014
Kingman, Arizona
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9. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

if there's a map with all the info that is on a GPS, I would love a copy ... my experience is that maps fall way short for important info as I noted previously..

pura vida and enjoy!

Randy

San Jose, Costa Rica
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10. Re: Lunch & Groceries on the way to La Fortuna & Manuel Antonio

I have had been driving for way to many years…even that our roads maps are not near to perfect or close to GPS info…they work great…

We have GPS almost at each car in our fleet…nice to play games with them and compare the accuracy…maps by Navsat CR are incredible…just some minors mistakes…our roads maps once again BASIC…but they work…they will get you there…and in your case cheaper than nay GPS that I know…once again…you do not need a GPS…but nice to have one…

I hope I do not start the third war…with my answer…just sharing my many years driving experience in MY country!

roadadisor

Edited: 5:54 pm, August 29, 2014