Many people mistake Costa Rica for being a budget-friendly travel destination. The cost of traveling to Costa Rica is actually similar to being in the United States. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot to enjoy your time. If you need to eat on a budget in La Fortuna, they best way is to visit the local sodas. Here are some of the best sodas in La Fortuna
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What is a Soda in Costa Rica?
You’ll see plenty of signs for “soda” in Costa Rica. This is not a soda shop. A Soda is just what they call a place that locals eat with Costa Rican food. It is typically much cheaper than eating at a larger restaurant.
>>> if you’re looking for how to eat on a budget in Costa Rica, make sure to stop by the local sodas! <<<
Are Sodas Safe to Eat At?
We ate at a lot of sodas during our time visiting. These included sodas in town, sodas off the highway, and sodas that felt like they were in the middle of nowhere.
We never felt sick from any of them. As long as everything looks like it is cooked through, you should be fine. Take advantage of the better prices and local cuisine!
Sensitive stomach, or just want to be extra safe? Grab a filtration water bottle to take with you to Costa Rica!
Water is typically safe in Costa Rica at main destinations. That said, some people with sensitive stomachs may feel the difference.
Casado from El Turnito
What is Casado?
Every soda you visit will have a few Costa Rican staples on it. One is the Casado.
Literally meaning “married”, a Casado typically has a meat, rice, beans, veggies, and plantains. Parts of chicken may differ, the veggie may differ, how the rice and beans are prepared may differ, and how the plantains are cooked may differ. But usually all of these key pieces are present on the Casado.
Related Post: Complete Guide to La Fortuna with Kids!
Some Words to Know When Eating at a Soda
When you are in a touristy town, sometimes there may be a person that knows some English serving you.
Sometimes not, though. Especially when you get out of town.
We know enough Spanish that we could get by just fine. But if your Spanish is rusty, here are a few key words to know when eating at a soda.
“Está abierta?” – are you open? (sometimes it’s hard to tell if a soda is open or not, especially in the middle of the day
La Cuenta – the check/bill
¿Aceptas Visa? – do you accept Visa? (There are “Welcome American Express Memebers!” all over as you enter each tourist town. However, barely anywhere we went took Amex. If you bring Amex, I’d suggest bringing a back up card.)
Batido– smoothie. Most sodas will have this on the menu. Different fruits include
- Fresa – strawberry
- sandía – watermelon
- piña – pineapple
- mango- mango
- banana- banana
- guanábana- soursop
Batidos are made with water “agua” or milk “leche”. We always did them with water and they tasted like fresh (really fresh), delicious fruit blended with ice. I highly suggest getting a batido whenever you can and try a different flavor each time.
If you ask for one with water it will be slightly cheaper. Usually “Batido con agua” costs about $1.50, so not bad for a smoothie!
Pescado / Pescado Frito – fish / fried fish
Sodas in La Fortuna
*Info is based on our trip in June 2022. Please make sure to ask any questions when you arrive as prices, meals, etc may change or be updated*
Before you eat at a Soda, make sure you ask if they take whatever mode of currency you are carrying. Some accept credit cards, some don’t. If they do, make sure they take the type of credit card you are carrying
Many also took cash, either USD or Colones. Some did not take USD.
Just be sure you have an accepted way to pay before you sit down.
Arroz con Pollo, or rice with chicken, is another popular local dish
Soda El Turnito in La Fortuna
Soda El Turnito is located right off the main road that goes through La Fortuna. The soda right next door was busy, and this one was empty.
While that may be a bad sign sometimes, we were exhausted and didn’t mind the idea of a quieter atmosphere.
El Turnito took cash; they did not take credit cards.
The hostess/waitress here was so friendly and we loved being able to enjoy the evening air while sitting under a covered eating area.
We thought the food here was great, though it was one of the smaller menus. It did, of course, have casados with various meat choices.
Here was the breakdown:
5 meals, 1 kids meal, 1 smoothie was about $30. Yes, our family of 6 ate for $30!
Colones or USD accepted.
There is a bathroom on site and parking is right in front of the restaurant.
Soda Las Flores in La Fortuna
Soda Las Flores is not far from previously mentioned Soda El Turnito. It is on the main road that goes through La Fortuna.
Soda Las Flores was a little nicer, and the prices were just a tad higher. They had a much bigger variety on their menu.
There is a bathroom on site. Soda Las Flores does take credit cards (ask which type. We had Visa).
We had eaten a late lunch, so we ordered less for this dinner and shared more.
Here, we ordered 4 meals and 1 smoothie. The total was $30, which was the same as the last soda, but with less food.
Soda Los Rodriguez in La Fortuna
Soda Los Rodriguez is right next door to Soda El Turnito on the main road through La Fortuna. This is the soda that always seemed busy.
Soda Los Rodriguez had a unique atmosphere. It was under a long walkway which included little shops and a laundry service.
The main waiter here spoke some English. He even took our kids back to visit their pig 🙂
There is a bathroom on site. Los Rodriguez does not take credit cards.
Here we got 4 meals, 2 hot dogs, and a smoothie and spent about $30.
While this place seemed more popular, we didn’t like it as much. My chicken didn’t seem cooked through (therefore, I didn’t eat more than the first bite). But I’m including it since it seems really popular with locals and tourists alike!
You will love the atmosphere and reading sayings and quotes from around the world that decorate the seating area.
- Rainforest Night Walk and Authentic Costa Rican Dinner from La Fortuna
- Merchant:Viator, A Tripadvisor Company
- Description:This tour is ideal for those who want to take advantage of every minute in Costa Rica, discovering some of the countryâ€™s nocturnal wonders in a night hike. We will begin our tour in a small town known as La Tigra, located just 30 minutes from La Fortuna
- Price: $88.32
- Rainforest Chocolate Tour from La Fortuna
- Merchant:Viator, A Tripadvisor Company
- Description:With the view of the majestic Arenal Volcano, enjoy the sweetest rainforest experience, discovering the ancient secrets of chocolate: from its discovery and use, in tropical America, to the processing of the product we know and enjoy today. A hands on pro
- Price: $26.00
- Peñas Blancas River Safari Float from La Fortuna
- Merchant:Viator, A Tripadvisor Company
- Description:This safari float is a perfect option to enjoy the colorsÂ and sounds ofÂ the rainforest inÂ theÂ calm waters of the PeÃ±as Blancas River . Beware to take memorable photos of monkeys, sloth, river turtles, crocodiles, iguanas and many birds. DonÂ´t
- Price: $71.00
Soda Viquez - The BEST Soda in La Fortuna
Soda Viquez was located in the downtown La Fortuna area. Street parking is available throughout town.
It is a larger, completely indoor area. They have bathrooms and took credit cards.
Soda Viquez was our favorite soda that we ate at in La Fortuna. They had a large menu that made it really hard to choose, so we decided to do family-style eating.
We ordered a few salads, a couple smoothies, and a couple meals and shared it around the table. And it was all so good.
I forgot to write down our total bill for this one, but it fell in line on average with the other sodas.
I would highly recommend making a stop here. The staff is friendly and helpful, but the food is delicious.
See Our Favorite Sodas in order in this quick video!
More Top Sodas in La Fortuna
We really enjoyed being able to try so many sodas in La Fortuna in just a few days. There were a few more we would have tried with more time that are highly rated.
Soda La Hormiga, meaning "the Ant Soda" is decorated as such with an ant statue in front. It's in the downtown area and one of the higher rated sodas in La Fortuna.
Soda Sabores Lulu is another one we wished we had time to try. It's highly rated as being very hospitable and the food cooked with love...and tons of flavor. They also have a highly-rated breakfast bar.
The Best Sodas in La Fortuna
We really worried about how much we would spend on food during our vacation. We were happy to discover sodas and how to eat on a budget in La Fortuna. Plus, it was really fun being able to eat local cuisine and try different meals.
Will you be giving sodas a try on your family vacation in La Fortuna? Let me know! And I'd love to know which ones you try out.
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Los Lagos Resort- the affordable option to Tabacon (but still really cool!)
Peñas Blancas Safari Float- why we loved this family-friendly excursion in La Fortuna