Here’s a local guide to some of the finest food shopping our area has to offer.
In southern Costa Rica, there are a myriad of outstanding options available when shopping for fresh food and produce. From vast farmers’ markets to petite fruit stands alongside the highway, this part of the country is chalk full of excellent eats to enjoy during your vacation in Dominical.
Farmers’ Markets (“Feria” in Spanish)
The area’s most expansive farmers’ market is located in the town of San Isidro, approximately a 40-minute drive east from Dominical through the hills of Perez Zeledon.
San Isidro’s feria operates on Thursdays and Fridays. Thursday is the most popular day to shop as organic farmers from the country’s lowlands and highlands make this a hotbed of locally grown greens. We recommend arriving early on Thursdays for the best access to top produce. The market opens as early as 5 a.m. and closes by 4 p.m. On Fridays, vendors begin slashing prices after noon in an attempt to unload product.
The market layout is the size of an American football field, if not a bit bigger, and offers ample pay parking for visitors. Parking costs between $2-$5 depending on the length of your stay. In fact, if you’re planning to do non-food shopping while in San Isidro–and there’s plenty of that, too–it’s best to leave your vehicle at the feria grounds and make the short walk into the city’s main shopping district.
One of the hottest items at the San Isidro feria is delicious organic kale, which is snapped up almost as quickly as it’s brought off the truck. This is also an excellent place to purchase mouthwatering strawberries, oranges, avocados, pineapples, peppers, lettuce and an ensemble of beans.
But the tasty shopping doesn’t end there.
San Isidro vendors also offer a wide range of breads, goodies and desserts. Some of the weekly highlights include blackberry cobbler, kale chips, dried coconut, spicy-raw crackers, organic honey, local teas and coffees and, a favorite of the kids, piping hot churros!
A slew of vegan and gluten-free food options are now available as well. Gluten-free desserts continue to gain popularity in this region and are becoming more prominent at local farmers’ markets. In addition to food products, feria vendors also offer arts and crafts, DVDs and toys.
There are two other noteworthy ferias in the area. One is located in the region of Quepos and Manuel Antonio, about 40 minutes north of Dominical, and the other is in Uvita, approximately 15 minutes south of Dominical.
The Quepos farmers’ market, which overlooks the city’s beautiful new marina, opens on Fridays and closes Saturday early in the afternoon. This is the perfect place to stock up on fresh fish for your stay as local fishermen have the surrounding sea wired for snagging tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin and red snapper.
In Uvita, the feria is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon. Located adjacent to the town’s indoor soccer field, this feria is the smallest of the three but also the closest to access. It’s actually easier to buy kale in Uvita because it doesn’t sell out nearly as fast as it does in San Isidro. Other highlights of the Uvita feria are free-range chicken, salsas and local artwork.
Mercados, Fruit Stands & Fish
Dominical has several options for general grocery shopping. Olger’s market at Plaza Pacifica is located just off the highway across from the town’s main exit. This is the most popular mercado to purchase groceries. Olger’s, open every day from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., also has a vast selection of wines, liquors and beers available. Please note that Olger’s closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays.
There are other mercados in the center of Dominical town as well as multiple fresh-fruit stands. These fruit stands are great places to buy coconut juice (they’ll hack the coconut open for you right on the spot) and smoothies (try one with pineapple and you won’t be disappointed). Plenty of other roadside fruit vendors can be found on the eastbound trip going from Dominical to San Isidro.
A pair of large supermercados in Uvita (BM Supermercardo) are similar to American-style grocery stores. These supermercados are open seven days a week and offer both local and imported products. When shopping in bulk, it’s best to visit a supermercado. The BMs open at 7 a.m. and close by 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They close a little earlier on Sunday nights.
Another top option for fresh fish is a roadside store in Dominicalito called “La Macha.” Located just outside of the main town, La Macha charges $12-$15 per kilo of fish. Products are updated daily as local fishermen dock their boats in a cove located just across the highway. La Macha typically opens at 10 a.m. and closes by 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sundays can be hit-or-miss.
There are a ton of excellent food and produce options awaiting you in southern Costa Rica. The fun part is exploring the different ferias and interacting with local farmers and fishermen. They take pride in their hard work, and for good reason as the final product is simply delicious.