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Driving from SJ Airoport to Arenal - where to have lunch?

Brooklyn, New York
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Driving from SJ Airoport to Arenal - where to have lunch?

Hello, we'll drive from SJ to Arenal in the am, I suspect our 5 y.o. will demand to be fed) is there restaurants/lunch places b/w SJ and Arenal, or should we have lunch in San Jose airport? Thanks!

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Driving from SJ Airoport to Arenal - where to have lunch?

I'm not sure exactly what time your flight gets in but if you're planning to drive from SJO to Arenal in the AM. then I would definitely NOT have lunch in the SJ airport. For one thing it will be a bit too early for lunch. For another, even if you were going through the airport at lunchtime, I'd still pass on getting non-descript over-priced airport food when you're just a doorway away from so many other better options.

I'll leave it to others to recommend places in the immediate airport area if you still want to get an early lunch and will instead focus on just 2 possibilities that i think you'll find more interesting just a little further away from the airport.

The first place is just a little off your route if you choose to go to Arenal by way of San Ramon. Just a few kms down the Pan American Highway from the airport you'll come to the turnoff for La Garita and Atenas (Rte 3). Take a left at the top of the exit ramp and head towards Atenas. Just a few kms beyond that on the left side of the road you will come to a fascinating restaurant called Fiesta de la Maiz, which serves all types of food items made from corn (or "maiz"), various corn cakes, fritters, puddings, and other meal items that feature other ingredients as well as corn (all very delicious). This is the most popular and famous of this places (and heavily frequented by tour groups) but there are actually several similar places in the same area, including a much smaller place just a little bit further down the road but on the other side and with a beautiful view of the surrounding valley.

If that doesn't interest you or you plan to go to Arenal by way of Zarcero and San Carlos (or the idea of a "corn restaurant" just sounds too bizarre to you), there is another great place to stop for a meal or even just a bite to eat on the road shortly before you get to Zarcero (this time on the right). I'm sorry I forget the exact name (Mirador something?, maybe another DE can help me out) but you can't miss it. It features the more usual soda food (casado's and such) but what really makes it special are its phenomenal views of the valley near it. I'm not great at identifying landmarks but I believe you can see all the way back to Alajuela or perhaps beyond. Additionally, it being just over halfway to San Carlos or just under halfway to Arenal, also could make it a great spot to split up your trip, However, if you're going that route and you have the time I'd also recommend you take a break in Zarcero for the surrealistic topiary (again shortly after this mirador restaurant) and perhaps even take a somewhat longer route from SJO and go by way of Grecia (scenic church) and/or Sarchi (crafts), rather than the more direct route along the PAH to the Naranjo turnoff.

BTW, looking at Google maps, I noticed that they're showing that Maiz place going in the other direction back towards Alajuela rather than where I remember it to be and just described it. I know that the location markers on Google can sometimes be way way off or is my memory just failing me on this or perhaps the Fiesta de la Maiz moved or something??? I'd hate to be handing out bum information.

Brooklyn, New York
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2. Re: Driving from SJ Airoport to Arenal - where to have lunch?

Thank u very much for all the info. I'll try to find the exact address of restaurant on Internet for gps. We r first timers in CR, we will have to rely on it)

3. Re: Driving from SJ Airoport to Arenal - where to have lunch?

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