The Local Fish Stand

The coastal beach towns of Costa Rica all enjoy the freshest sea food and everyone has their favorite local fish stand.  In the Dominical area it depends if you want whole fish or already cut filets.

Fish Shack at Playa Dominicalito

For whole fish you can go down to the beach in Dominicalito from the La Parcela Restaurant entrance and then drive to the right once you hit the beach.  There you will find a little shack where most of the fishermen come in with their daily catch.

Whole Red Snapper

Here you can buy whole fish from the same place many of the re-sale vendors and restaurants buy it from for only a few bucks per fish.

Fish Stand in La Macha Parking Lot

If filleting fish is not you thing, then you can buy the already cut filets from the fish stand in the La Macha parking lot.  This is right across from the La Parcela entrance in Dominicalito.

Sushi Grade Tuna Steaks

Here you can buy fresh sushi grade Tuna (Atun), Mahi-Mahi (Dorado), Sea Bass (Corvina), or Red Snapper (Pargo) all for around only $10 per kg or 2.2lbs.  They usually have Shrimp (Camarones) and sometimes even Lobster (Langosta), but both of those are more expensive.

So if you live in the Dominical area or are just visiting; fire up the BBQ and enjoy some fresh fish tonight!!

How to Catch Fish and Shrimp with your Bare Hands

This past weekend in Silencio, a small local town where my in-laws live, it was a beautiful clear sunny morning on Saturday so we decided to take the kids to splash around in the river.  There happened to be an excavator digging a trench to re-direct the river because it was beginning to erode one of the banks near the road.  We went for a swim with the kids and watched as the huge machine did its work.  When we were just about ready to go the excavator headed upstream and at that moment dug out the temporary dam it had made and the river instantly changed course.  Well, talk about being in the right place at the right time.  A large section of about 200 feet of the river dried up and created small pools everywhere with river shrimp and fish splashing around.  I grabbed a bag from the car and we got all the shrimp and few large fish we could find; literally fishing with our hands! After bringing the catch back to the house we cleaned it up and prepared some fresh fish for lunch and saved the shrimp for lunch the next day. 

The fish was really tasty and river shrimp are like craw fish, but taste like lobster here!  Fun experience for us and the kids; as it is not every day you get to fish with your hands!

How to Make “Chorreadas” (Corn Pancakes)

The Costa Rica specialty, “Chorreada” is basically a corn pancake and a very tasty for breakfast, lunch, or mid afternoon snack with coffee on a rainy day.  Corn is a staple in the Costa Rican diet and eaten daily by most locals in one form or another such as; tortillas, tamales, corn on the cob, and many other forms.  If you are like me over 7 years ago, you probably have only seen corn in the supermarket, peeled and ready to cook.  Well, now I have experience in the corn fields and picking fresh corn to eat the same day; not just buying some at a grocery store that who knows how ago it was harvested.  Today we will show you how to make one of my favorite dishes; “Chorreadas” literally from scratch.

Step 1) In the Field – When eating the freshest ingredients it is not easy and involves a bit of work, and the first step is to go to the corn field and pick the corn.  So the day starts before dawn and in order to make plenty of “Chorreadas” you need at least one sack of corn.

You pick the corn that is almost ripe; the younger corn is still soft and makes the best “Chorreada”.  You can tell by the size of the husk and the hairs on the tip of the husk are purplish, where as when completely ripe they are black and dried out.

Once you have picked a sufficient amount you have to peel as much of the husk as you can while leaving enough to transport it without damaging the kernels.  This also allows you to fit more corn in the sack and reduces some of the overall weight.  Remember you have to carry this sack of corn back to the house.  This is the hardest part and if you do not have access to a corn field or do not want to pick corn, just buy a bunch at your local Farmer’s Market.

Step 2) The Preparation – By now you are back at the house with your sack of corn and it is about 7am and you still have a long way to go before you taste your first “Chorreada”.

You will need to peel the entire husk from the cob and get all the hairs off that you can.

Next you have to cut the raw corn from the cob so just the kernels are ready for the grinder.  At this point you may want to cook a few cobs of corn on the side to eat as a snack while you finish the rest of your work.

Now comes the hard part, hand grinding all the kernels into a “masa” or dough like substance. At least you will get your arm strength exercise for the day.

Step 3) Cooking – Now its about 8:30am and you are ready to start cooking the “Chorreada”.  You take the corn “masa” or dough and mix in a little sugar and salt, plus a little flour if it is not thick enough and mix it all together.

Then put tiny bit of oil onto a hot skillet and spread out a pancake sized portion of the mix.

After a few minutes flip it to the other side and cook both sides until golden to dark brown in color.

Step 4) The Taste Test – By now it is around 9am or later and you are finally ready to enjoy your hard earned delicacy. The “Chorreada” is best served with a side of sour cream or “Natilla” and a cup of coffee or cold glass of milk.  This entire process is best done by the whole family; as one person can peel, one can cut off the kernels, one can grind, and one can cook.  Otherwise it will take you half the day to do it all solo.

 If all this seems like too much work, then the next time you see “Chorreada” on the menu at your local “Soda” order it with a side of ”Natilla” and a cup of “café con leche” and enjoy!

Mamones Farm – Field of Dreams

About 40 minutes South of Dominical in San Buenas, Cortes there is a huge Mamones farm we like to visit to pick fresh Mamones.  It is lots of fun to bring the whole family and get as much as you can eat to last a week, not to mention filling up while you are picking them right off the tree.

The Mamone is a golf ball sized fruit with red peal and soft spikes also called Lechies in Asia.  Inside is a grape like substance that is clearish-white in color around a small pit.

We have been going to this particular farm for a few years and they sell us the best Mamones in the entire Southern Zone of Costa Rica, in my opinion.  Most all their trees are grafted (which we discussed in an earlier blog on Planting Fruit Trees) so they fruit while they are still young and low to the ground.

First the local farmer cuts down the fruit for us to gather.

We fill our sacks and bags, all the while stuffing ourselves with all you can eat smorgasbord.

Then we haul our “cosecha” or harvest to where the farmer weighs how much we gathered.  We used to go to a farm that was hilly terrain years ago, but this one is all flat and much better fruit.

He weighs the sacks and bags full of Mamones and we pay by weight.

Then we load up our goody bags and go home to eat Mamones for a week or in our case a weekend!  One of the many perks of living in paradise; fresh exotic fruits year round due to varying seasons for each kind!!

Local Food and Sodas

The local soda has great taste and the best prices around.  Not a soda beverage, but rather the local small restaurant they call “Sodas” around here.  They are typically family owned and many times operating right out of their home kitchen.  Talk about good ole’ home cooking.  As with most Costa Rica restaurants they are open air and there will surely be a dog sleeping in the corner, but do not worry I have never got sick at any local restaurants despite some of their appearances.

Local Area Soda

The typical dish at the Soda is called a “casado” which translated means “married”; which I think is because they marry the main dish of meat or fish with the various sides, but this is my personal theory.  A typical “casado” comes with either chicken, fish, pork chop, or thin flank steak with sides of; rice and beans (usually black beans), some kind of “picadillo” (which can be potatoes, green papaya, squash, or other veggie chopped into tiny cubes and seasoned, then mixed with onions, chili, and cilantro), a salad (usually with no dressing just a wedge of lime), and a fried sweet platano.

Every Soda has their own version of the “casado” and this is the best way to eat out economically while getting a filling meal with the local experience included.  Some Sodas also offer a buffet style line of various ready portions that you can pick and choose your favorite.  So check out your neighborhood Soda next time you eat out in Costa Rica.

Planting Fruit Trees

Now you have a home and property or even a lot ready to build, and want to plant some flowers and fruit trees.  This is one of the best aspects of living in such a tropical environment, you can usually literally cut off a branch and stick it in the ground and it will grow.  You will notice driving down the road though out the country, some of the fence posts have started growing branches and become trees again!  It really is amazing how easy it is to have a green thumb here and fun to watch your plantings grow.  Everyone wants their own garden and most of all their own fruit trees.

It is a good idea to plant your fruit trees as soon as possible, as they can take years to fruit.  Planting a seed or cutting it can take over 2 years for a pineapple, 5 years for a mango tree, and 6 years or more for an avocado tree.  However, there are grafted trees of almost everything you can buy for $3 to $10 depending on type and size and they can fruit in 3 years and sometimes less.  I have even seen mini orange and lemon trees with fruit already on them!  Also have seen a mango tree with 3 different types of mangos grafted on the same tree!!  This is the way to go to guarantee the quality of fruit and shorter time period for your first harvest or “cosecha”.

Grafted Orange Tree with Fruit Already!!

The best time to plant in the Southern Zone is May through August.  May is when the rains start and you want plenty of water for the trees to grow string healthy roots.  August is not too late, but still best to plant earlier in the rainy season.  If you can easily water the trees, then you can even plant in the dry season.  Make sure you pick a spot with plenty of sunshine and space for them to grow.  It is recommended at least 5 meters or 15 feet apart so they can grow unobstructed and do not fight for the sun light.  Sometimes the grafted trees do not grow as tall or wide as trees from seed, but if you have enough land it is best to give each tree its proper space.

There is basically every kind of tropical fruit here available and even some exotic fruits not so common in the States, Canada, or Europe.  The common fruits of mangos, avocados, oranges, lemons, bananas, platanos, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe are everywhere and readily available.

Mango Trees are Common Everywhere

Some more exotic fruits you can find at “viveros” or nurseries are:

Guanabana – Big green fruit with little soft spikes and white fleshy fruit inside that is really sweet and great for smoothies.

Guava – What they call guava here grows in a pod on a tree and has a hard husk, inside are black seeds covered in a white fruit that tastes like a cotton ball dipped in sugar water.

Guayaba – This is what we call guava in the States and is the fruit they make jellies and jams out of and here locals eat it like an apple straight off the tree.

Mangostien – This is th slowest growing tree of all and can take 15 years to fruit for the first time.  The fruit turns dark purple when ripe and is a white snotty looking fruit inside, but is actually sweet and tasty.

Mature Mangostein Tree

Momones – Red and yellow golf ball size fruits with soft spiked peel and inside is a white/clearish fruit with the consistency of a grape around a small pit.  These are some of my favorites and they sell them in bags along the road when in season from July to October.

Grafted Momone Tree 3 years old and Fruiting

Zapote – This one I have not tried, but it is an orange fruit inside and some people really like it.  Will have to try it next time it is in season.

Cashews – I had never seen a cashew on a tree until moving here and they grow on top of an apple looking fruit and you have to roast the seed and then crack it and get out the part out you eat.  The seed shell secretes oil that can chemically burn your skin.  It is very hard to get even a bag full and now I know why this nut is so expensive around the World!

If you do not have a place to plant, we can help you find the right home or property to plant your fruit orchard.  If you already have a home or land, we can even recommend where to purchase the best grafted fruit trees and help you get them planted as one of our property management services.  Get started planting your favorite trees and enjoy the satisfying feeling of eating your own freshly picked fruit!!

Local Farmer’s Markets

The local farmer’s market is a weekly event that most residents and locals alike look forward to.  Every Thursday and Friday in San Isidro and every Saturday in Uvita, one can stock up of fresh fruits and vegetables from an assortment of local area farmers.  There is everything imaginable and even an organic fruit section; which is very popular and best to go on Thursday morning for more selection.   At the San Isidro market or “Feria” there is even fresh meats, cheeses, yogurts, plus jellies and jams.  Farmers bring their fresh harvest or “cosecha” from all over the surrounding countryside and are very proud to offer some of the best tasting and freshest fruits and veggies you can find anywhere.   The prices are also very affordable with some common items listed below:

Pineapples – $2.00 for 3 or 4 (depending on size)
Mangos – $0.90 per pound
Papayas – $0.36 per pound
Apples – $0.20 each
Mandarin – $0.10 each
Lettuce – $0.50 each
Sweet Chiles – $0.30 each
Potatoes – $1.00 per pound
Onions – $1.20 per pound
Tomatoes – $0.75 per pound

Weekly Farmer’s Market in San Isidro

Fresh Local Fruit and Vegetables

The weekly Farmer’s Market is one of the many perks to living in Costa Rica and not matter where you are in Costa Rica you should be able to find a similar open air weekly market.  The price and quality of the produce is not the only draw because spending time experiencing the local community and atmosphere also adds to the pleasure of visiting the “Feria”.

Dominical Area Restaurants

Restaurant Suggestions

Dominical and the surrounding areas have some really great places to eat from beachfront casual to fine dining (still casually dressed).  There are restaurants for the entire family with kids favorites like pizza, burgers, and tacos to options for international cuisine by chefs from all over the world.

Café Delicious – The café bakery in the front of Dominical.  They have incredible pastries, cappuccinos, and other coffee drinks or smoothies for breakfast.  And a great place for lunch where you can pick up a sandwich, lasagna, and more.  Free WiFi and not open for dinner.

Rio Lindo – Next to Delicious and they have tasty New York style pizzas, which is good for takeout or enjoy the bar and atmosphere for Monday Night Football.  They also have wings and traditional American favorites, plus a pool table.  The hotel sometimes does a poolside sunset BBQ on weekends, ask about it while you are here.

San Clemente – Located in Dominical just after the Dominical futball field on the left.  VW bus in the air means you can’t miss it.  This is typical American Tex-Mex tourist food, but a fun place for kids with tons of broken surf boards hanging from the ceiling, TVs, and ping pong table.

Tortilla Flats – Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Located right on the beach, it is the local hang out and they have a happy hour sunset specials.  The bacon, egg, avocado, tomato, and cheese sandwich for breakfast and Coconut encrusted Mahi for dinner are my best suggestions.  Sometimes they have specials written on a chalkboard for dinner and those are always a good choice too.  Free WiFi internet access.

Local Hangout Tortilla Flats

La Casita Pizza – This is the best pizza in town in my opinion and owned by a couple guys from Argentina.   Located out of a house or “Casita” on the road that loops around behind Tortilla Flats, there are signs around town to help you find it.  They offer daily lunch specials of a slice or two of pizza with a drink, have free WiFi for guests eating in, and are pretty quick for takeout pizzas, plus deliver by motor cycle if your place is close.

Sushi – The only sushi place in town or this area for that matter.  It located straight past the cell tower, after the police station, and on the left across from El Coco.  It is a small place, but the freshest ingredients from land and sea make for delicious sushi.  Fresh tuna rolls with avocado and mango, amazing combo!!  Small restaurant without much seating, so get there early. 

El Coco – Across from the Sushi place and also right on the beach.  They serve big portions of typical local food at decent prices.  Bar and pool table, plus plenty of seating.

Confusione Tapa Restaurant – Go past the Sushi place and El Coco and then turn left just before the Refuge and Pyramis 2 story open building on left.  A tranquil ambiance and wonderful Italian food and mini pizzas.  They have a very extensive Tapas menu now and choosing just a few items is the toughest part.

Confusione Tapas Restaurant

The Refuge – This casual restaurant has the best burgers in town and is at the end of the road past El Coco and on the corner of the turn off for Confusione.  Also on the corner next to the beach if you go into Dominical by the back entrance which goes straight to the beach just South of the Pacific Plaza Commercial Center from the Coastal Highway.  Best to go for lunch because they close early daily and are closed on Sundays.

La Parcela – A must-do dining experience located on Punta Domincial with the Pacific Ocean on both sides.  Turn right off of the Coastal Highway after the straight away that is after the Playa Dominicalito turn off with futball field on the left and it is marked with a “La Parcela” sign for the restaurant.  Their fresh tuna steak, snapper, and other seafood dishes are all delicious.  They also offer various pastas, steak, and chicken.  Save room for dessert and try the Banana Flambé for a fire show or the Mud Pie if you’re a coffee lover.

Amazing Views at La Parcela

Cuna del Angel – Located about 10 minutes south of Dominical, look for blue sign indicating the right hand turn off for Cuna del Angel Hotel.  This is one of my favorite places to eat and they have an enchanting atmosphere at the Hotel and Palapa Restaurant.  Besides the gourmet food, they also have a day spa for massages, facials, and other relaxation treatments.  Also offer Sport Fishing tours and will prepare any fish caught at the restaurant the same night.

Cuna del Angel Fine Dinning

Jolly Roger’s – This is the best place for wings in the Southern Zone with about 20 different flavors, plus they got great burgers too.  Located up the mountain in Escalares and the left hand turn entrance is just before Cuna del Angel and is marked with a sign.  Drive up about 4 to 5 minutes on dirt roads and it will be on your left.  Only open after 4pm (if they even feel like opening) and very casual.  Good place to watch football or have some cold beers as well.

Citrus – This great fine dining restaurant is in Ojochal 35 minutes South of Dominical.  Take left into main entrance of Ojochal and then an immediate left.  After 50-100 meters or so you pass the police station on your left the restaurant entrance will be on your right.  They have French-Canadian and International cuisine with plenty of options for sea food and steaks.  I like the Corvina (Sea Bass) with a dill cream sauce and my wife always gets the steak with mushroom sauce.

Café Exotica – Also located in Ojochal about 35 to 40 minutes South of Dominical and is many people’s favorite restaurant.  To get there, turn left off the Coastal Highway at the Ojochal main entrance and go straight over the first bridge then left on other side of the bridge.  Then go straight for 2 or 3 more kms and it will be a small place on your right.  They have some of the best steaks available, sea food entrees are amazing, and numerous delicious appetizers.  French-Canadian cuisine as well.

I hope you enjoy some of these restaurant suggestions while visiting or living in the Dominical area.  Writing this blog definitely made me hungry and I will be taking my wife and kids out for dinner tonight!!