The best dining on Lake Arenal Costa Rica is casual, inexpensive, and showcases spectacular views of the lake and the Arenal volcano mountainside. Lake Arenal has become global a magnet for windsurfers, water boarders, and eco-tourists who value their active lifestyles, so the cuisine on Lake Arenal tends to be hearty and the atmosphere is always lively and fun.
If you are just looking for a filling meal and a couple of beers after a day on the water, try La Carreta in the village of Tilaran. La Carreta is a popular local bar, so you’re sure to meet some new friends here too, and they’ve even added some rooms for rent upstairs if you need accommodations. Casual dining on Lake Arenal starts here, and it’s not a bad start.
If you are dining on Lake Arenal in the village of Nuevo Arenal, you have to include meal at the little Italian bistro Tramonti. Tramonti specializes in authentic, cheesy pastas and terrific pizzas. Right around the corner from Tramonit, Tom’s Pan German Bakery serves hearty breakfasts and incredible pastries and snacks. Take some back to your room if you don’t have time to sit.
Equus BBQ, a small open-air restaurant also in Nuevo Arenal, features a gorgeous view of the lake and filling roasted chicken platters and chargrilled steaks. Equus BBQ is located right in front of Xiloe Lodge, so visitors dining on Lake Arenal Costa Rica for the first time should have no trouble finding it.
Mystica is an Italian-run hotel located high atop a hill that overlooks the lake and the Arenal volcano. The on-site restaurant at Mystica offers one of the most memorable experiences in fine dining on Lake Arenal. Featuring fine Italian fare and pizzas made in a brick oven while customers watch, the Mystica dining room is decorated with tile floors, colorful table clothers, rustic wood tables decorated with fresh flowers, and a huge stone fireplace that faces the authentic Italian pizza oven on the other side of the room.
Most of the Italian dishes at Mystica use fresh produce from the proprietor’s own vegetable garden. Although Mystica feels like fine dining, the prices are surprisingly moderate, making Mystica on of the best dining deals in Lake Arenal Costa Rica.
Probably the last cuisine you’d expect to find when dining on Lake Arenal Costa Rica is German fare, but surprise, surprise—the German owners of Willy’s Caballo Negro serve no less than three different kinds of schnitzel as well as a host of meat dishes from Old Europe. Although the emphasis here is definitely on sturdy meat dishes and German sausages, vegetarians will find plenty of meatless meals on the affordable menu. Try the eggplant Parmesan or the stuffed potatoes.
You’ll find Willy’s Caballo Negro located just outside Nuevo Arenal on a small local lake. The dining room there is filled with candles, giving the place a romantic glow, and making Willy’s is another dining option on Lake Arenal that feels more expensive than it is. Two filling entrees will set you back less than $30 USD, so enjoy!