Travel Costa Rica Eating Local

Simple food honestly prepared. Whole fried fish with plantains, served outside on the weathered boards of a rustic table, accompanied by beer and hot sauce.

Ocean breeze and shanty shade to protect us from the sun. The sound of something Latin and soulful crackling through speakers that have spent too much time in the salty air. The beat, somewhere between Soca and Salsa, competes with the crash of the waves.

These are the kinds of places I seek out when I travel.

I found one such place in Quepos, Costa Rica. It’s called Bahia Azul. It’s a simple place with rusty fixtures, broken chairs and happy people. It’s not the kind of place you’d find many tourists. It’s a bit off the beaten path. From the outside, it may even seem a bit intimidating. Maybe not “clean” in the way Americans are used to, but it is authentic and perfectly delicious.

fried fish and backgammonIt’s the kind of place locals stop in to get a bite to eat and a quick beer or 4 on their way to or from the day’s activities. I can tell the regulars knew just who to expect to see sitting at the bar. There aren’t any menus. All the patrons know what is served. After all, this is Quepos. A fishing town on the Pacific coast. The people here have earned their living from the sea long before the tourists came to town. One after the other I watched the people who ambled up to the bar sit down smile and simply say pescado. That means fish.

When you say pescado at a place like Bahia Azul, you get whole fried fish. Served with scorching hot fried plantains. The local version of a salad and whatever vegetable the cook has handy. Naturally, when Ken and I took our table we simply said pescado, por favor. Oh, and dos cervezas!

What we got was the perfect marriage of delicious food, served with no pretense which perfectly reflected the relaxed atmosphere. It was a great culinary moment for me. We spent the whole afternoon there. Drinking beer, playing backgammon, watching the water taxi ferry folks back and forth across the bahia azul that surrounding us.

Here’s a quick video! GREG