The Andaz is located in a slightly rural area (although it is about a 40 minute drive from Liberia, the fifth largest city in Costa Rica), it’s not an all-inclusive resort. Meaning that with the exception of booking a room rate which includes breakfast, all other meals and of course, drinks, are out of pocket. And while there are only three restaurants located on-site, I found enough variety between them in terms of their offerings to not feel any repetition.
Just as the rooms at the Andaz are on the pricey side, so are the meals/snacks/drinks. There’s nothing bargain about a stay at the Andaz and if you don’t have a rental car, well, you’re stuck with paying said prices so just be aware of this. My piece of advice would be to book a room with the breakfast rate-this includes a buffet breakfast along with any speciality coffee/fruit drinks, so you can truly fill up in the morning hours and then really only need a snack to tide you over till dinner. I’ll be talking more about average prices in each of the respective restaurant summaries.
As I wrote about in my previous Andaz post, the intermittently efficient dining service was one of the things I was most disappointed with during my stay at the Andaz. I’ve lived and traveled in enough Latin American countries to know that customer service is not a “thing” like it is here in the United States and believe me when I say for better or worse, I respect and understand the cultural differences. However, the Andaz is part of the Hyatt hotel family, an American company. Not to mention, the Andaz has also received countless accolades since it opened which I don’t fully get since accolades should be reflective of 100% exemplary everything, wouldn’t you agree?
Rio Bhongo ended up being the restaurant we ate at the most due to a variety of factors including its prime location (it was nearest to the pools and our room building) and because I liked the ambiance and the views the most (it overlooked the stunning Culebra Bay). It’s also where breakfast is offered each morning.
Of all my meals, breakfast was probably my favorite. Although we could have gone the a la carte menu option since everything was included, we always did the buffet for both convenience and most offerings. Even though it was an American style buffet, they had so many Costa Rican touches which I LOVED. Although selections varied, they included everything from gallo pinto (the country’s national dish) to yucca strips to fried plantains to tamales to pineapple and banana cakes to queso frito (fried cheese). Sadly, I only got queso frito on the first morning we were there but maybe that was for the best. But there was also an omelette station, bacon, waffle making options, cereals, breads galore, and regular scrambled eggs.
Being Costa Rica, fruits were a prominent part at the buffet. They had an area where you could get a glass of freshly squeezed juice (and I just don’t mean orange juice), and then also a selection of fresh cut up fruits including types you’ll only see in a tropical destination like Costa Rica.
I loved my batidos (Costa Rican type of smoothie) the most. I sadly didn’t take advantage of this until our third morning there but then I got them each day. There were a variety of flavors to choose from including papaya (my favorite), pineapple and mint, mango, and more. D adored the specialty coffee options, trying out a new one each day.
Lunch and dinner offer basically the same items, mostly Costa Rican/Latin inspired options. Over the course of our stay, we ordered everything from a quesadilla to a casado (I opted for my protein to be the fish of the day which I enjoyed) to a chorizo sandwich to patacones (twice fried plantains) to a vegetarian penne pasta option. My favorite, though, was the roasted pineapple we ordered for dessert. This was such a unique item to get.
Each week, Rio Bhongo also offers specially themed buffets (these are listed on the Pura Vida news, another reason it would have been nice to have this left in our room in order to plan better). We happened upon the Italian buffet one night. Thankfully the regular menu was still offered but D partook. Buffets were $45USD a person.
Breakfast buffet is $32 a person/continental breakfast is $19 a person. A la carte items range from $8-$14.
Dinner costs for meals (excluding sides and appetizers) ranged from $11 to about $30, most being more in the middle.
Chao Pescao Small Plates & Bar
This was the restaurant I was looking most forward to but it ended up being the most disappointing of experiences, so we only dined here once. It’s definitely the most removed of the three restaurants so keep that in mind when going there.
Service was also the worst here, not just instances of taking forever for the waiter to come over to the table but then once we had finally placed our order, about 10-15 minutes later, he came back over and asked us if we were ready to order. I was once again taken aback by the unprofessionalism. I know for a fact that after he asked us this, it was only THEN that he actually put our order into the computer. So the couple behind us who came a good 20 minutes after us, got their drinks at the same time we got ours.
They have a pretty extensive drink menu (this is where the mixology classes take place), offering a varied selection of mixed drinks and also local craft beers. I didn’t overly love the drink I ordered, a bit too tart and citrusy for my taste.
When they say small plates, they actually mean quite large ones. We ordered a total of three plates but in hindsight, should have stuck with two as that was more than enough food (especially when you have a huge drink).
I was most excited to try one of the arepas and the Gallinita (mild spicy chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole) did not disappoint ($18).
D was interested in trying the Pork Belly ($17). This included tamarind sauce, corn, roasted sweet potato, and rice. It wasn’t the “best” pork belly I ever had; it had a ton of fat to it.
And because I thought we should have a salad of sorts, I selected the Chao ($18) and I fully acknowledge that this was probably ordering overkill. It was topped with green papaya, tomato, shrimp, and sweet chili dressing. I had this boxed up since we had a fridge in our room and a salad wouldn’t need to be heated up. I picked at it the next day but we never finished it.
With the exception of two seafood small plates, most were in the range of $16-$26.
Ostra is the restaurant I would compare to Disney Cruise Line’s adults only restaurants even though here, kids were welcome. But the service was the best we experienced of all three restaurants and the ambiance was more sedate intimate. Ostra is also the only restaurant that does require reservations; for the record we only made them the day before and were fine.
Upon arriving there, we were treated to a complimentary drink. They had both an alcoholic and non-alcoholic option, we opted for the former, a delicious sangria.
Ostra’s big thing is all about serving fresh, locally caught seafood. And in a country like Costa Rica, ceviche is huge. Although I did more or less enjoy the ceviche I had years ago on my Miami food tour, I hadn’t eaten it since. But I figured when in Rome…Thankfully at Ostra they do make it “easy.” You choose the type of seafood (everything from shrimp to grouper, we actually did sea bass) and then you choose the flavor that the fish is cooked in. I chose “un exotico” which was rocoto chili, cilantro cream, and plantain chips. We opted for the smallest portion and even then that was still plenty. Overall, it was good. Not something I could eat a lot of frequently, but once every four years? Definitely.
For entrees, I opted for a pasta dish that came with lobster while D went the shrimp route. And we had the most delectable dessert that featured guava (when en Costa Rica…).
We only ate at Ostra once but perhaps that also contributed to that special memorable factor.
The day we visited the Bijagua Rainforest, we ordered room service for dinner. All in-room dining selections come from the Rio Bhongo kitchen. We split a burger and a Caesar salad. My only critique of the in-room dining is that selections were quite limited. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just make the Rio Bhongo lunch/dinner menu available in its entirety.
The Beach House
Okay, so this has nothing to do with dining at Andaz but it deserved its own mention all the same.
Although there are two beaches on-site at the Andaz, the beach located at their Beach House property is pristine and truly postcard worthy. The only thing is, you do need to take a shuttle to get there. Shuttles leave every thirty minutes from the Andaz’s lobby. You’re then dropped off at a golf club house (presumably the Four Seasons’ which is the Andaz’s neighbor) and then taken by golf carts to the actual beach as the final leg of the journey is down a dirt path. This is also where we had some incredible animal sights-coatis-these were so cool to observe, more monkeys, and iguanas). There is staff all around to advise you of the return times back to the golf club house from the beach house.
The wonderful thing about the Beach House is that beach chairs, beach chaise lounges, hammocks, umbreallas-they’re all plentiful. And not to mention there is ample shade as well, and if you need to move your chair from the sun to shade, staff who are constantly circulating are there to help you move if need be.
We unfortunately only made it there two of the days. The first day, the water conditions were perfect, we were able to literally just sit and bob around. Of course this was the day we couldn’t stay for hours at the Beach House. When we returned, it was incredibly windy with quite rocky waves. It all boils down to the kind of mood Mother Nature is in that day.
The Beach House offers both an actual restaurant to sit down at but you can also order food and drinks right from the comfort of your beach chairs. We did this on our second day, and truly it was bliss. Also on site at the Beach House are sunblock and water stations along with indoor (and clean, thought that was worth mentioning) restrooms.
The Beach House was definitely one of my favorite parts about my stay at the Andaz. Yes, you have to “work” a tiny bit to get to it, but truly it’s worth it. The beach there reminded me so much of what makes Costa Rica special, that beautiful and pristine undeveloped feel.
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