Where to Shop for Groceries & Specialty Items on your Vacation in Southern Costa Rica.
There are many rare sights to see during your vacation to tropical Costa Rica. Top of mind are sloths, macaws, crocodiles and volcanoes. But as many a traveler has discovered, albeit unexpectedly, you may find yourself searching for a gluten-free cinnamon roll, organic unsweetened oat milk or an affordable jar of peanut butter. These items used to be more elusive than the blue jeans tree frog, but not anymore. Here are our favorite markets for buying groceries in Costa Rica:
Groceries in Costa Rica
A lot of progress has been made in Costa Rica in the realm of food imports. Gone are the days of pounding chickpeas into the shape of a burger. Shoppers can now get Beyond Burgers and Beyond Brats at local grocery stores, and that’s only the tip of the spear.
Also gone are the days of searching for a highly coveted bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour priced 80-percent above what a normal human is used to. Now, instead of baking from scratch in the jungle, we can head to the Eco Feria Dominical on Fridays and choose from 13 different pre-baked gluten free bakery items.
YouGetHere Vacation Rentals are huge supporters of the “when in Rome” ethos, so we encourage everyone to try out all the local fruits, vegetables and recipes on offer. Be sure to enjoy whichever interesting fruits are in season, like mangosteens or mammones, and also order a typical Tico breakfast featuring gallo pinto during your stay.
A list of all the amazing restaurants in the Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal areas can be accessed here. For all the rest of your meals, here are our favorite grocery store options:
Buying Groceries in Dominical
Super Dominical – Grocery store in “Plaza Pacifica”
This is the most popular market in Dominical, with a mix of local and imported products. If you’re purchasing food for a large group or lots of kids and don’t want them breaking the bank using Grey Poupon on hotdog, this local market is what you are looking for.
The longtime family-owned store is also, generally, the lowest priced market in Dominical. You’ll find the standard version of everything here, along with some organic, gluten-free and imported options mixed in.
They have a large wine, beer and liquor section, as well as a lot of beverages, including local favorites like Aloe Water and coconut-based drinks.They also stock many spice packets, pre-made sauces, broths and such that you are used to buying back home.
They have the largest selection of items across several categories. You can get almost anything you’ll need here including sunscreens, chapstick, advil, towels, utensils, an umbrella, shampoos, toothpaste, chewing gum, batteries, bug spray, lottery tickets, etc. etc. etc.
Mama Toucans Natural Market
This market made a splash when it opened in 2015, and is the go-to place for organic and healthier cooking options. They stock quality brands from abroad like Braggs (spices and amino acids), Coconut Secret and others that Americans and Canadians are accustomed to using.
There are an array of gluten-free flours to choose from, lots of healthy grains, cereals and premade granola mixes. You can find a lot of great imported products here that you won’t find elsewhere. They do come at a higher price as with all imports, plus they are as difficult to spot as a sloth in the canopy, so take your time in each aisle and it will pay off. You’ll also find a large variety of plant protein meat-imitators, including kids’ favorites like vegetarian chicken nuggets.
Mama Toucans Market also houses a deli inside with delicious fresh-made items. There’s a table of fresh-baked goods like vegan banana bread and chocolate muffins. Easy to-go options for now, or tomorrow, are sandwiches, pizza, soups, salads, desserts and more. Also grab a pint of Cocolado, a coconut-milk-based vegan frozen treat. Check out their full menu here.
Last but not least, they have a ‘magical freezer’ full of tons of pre-made healthy vegetarian meals you can just pop in the oven (lasagna, enchiladas) or the pot (soup, chili). Many of the pre-made meals in the freezer come from neighboring restaurants or chefs, but it’s much easier to grab them out of the freezer than coordinate the order yourself.
Local Fisherman – Located “down River Road”
The best place to buy fresh fish is right from the fishermen. An easy and popular spot is on “river road.” When driving into the town of Dominical, make a right at the end of the entrance, where you come to Pueblo Lindo and Mama Toucans Market. Then enjoy the scenic drive that winds down the river road until you pass the hotel on your right. Keep an eye out for the sign “Pescado” and turn in there to practice a bit of your Spanish. Then head back to your BBQ and villa with the freshest fish in town.
Eco Feria Dominical – Every Friday
Whether you need groceries or not, you should check out the weekly Farmers’ Market or “Eco Feria” in Dominical. Local growers bring their goods each week and you’ll get a much better price on the organic goods than if you shop at the store. You’ll also find lots of other vendors and artists to share their creations each week, including the gluten-free bakery. In general this weekly gathering is a social time and you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll find, so try and swing by.
Grocery Stores in Uvita, Costa Rica
The BM is the most popular store for our guests to shop at. It’s a large supermarket with both local and imported items. BM features one of the larger sections of fresh poultry, fish and meats. They also have rotisserie chicken and some pre-spiced and pre-cooked items as well. The refrigerated sections offer a good supply of local artisan cow and goat cheeses.
BM has a large frozen-food section when compared to other stores and stocks items like frozen salmon, non-dairy ice creams and cheeses, and fresh-made juices. You can also find brands like Tofurky, Gardein and Beyond Meat at this store.
BM also has the largest section of non-dairy milks, including oat, soy, rice, almond, cashew, hemp and more. The wine and liquor section at this store is solid. As with all imported beverages, the prices will be higher than what you’re probably used to paying for alcohol.
In the past year, a new Maxi Pali opened in Uvita, bringing more local and affordably priced grocery options to the area. This store doesn’t have many specialty or imported items, but for all the staples you’ll find the prices are best.
Pastas, cooking ingredients, canned foods and anything packaged like chips and soda will be cheapest at Maxi Pali. Also cleaning and laundry supplies, sandals, towels, household items and small electronics can all be found at this store.
Emana Zero Waste Shop
Opened in 2019, this shop is great for bulk items like cereals, legumes, nuts, coffees and grains. There are no preservatives or pesticides in the products they sell and over 80-percent of the products stocked are grown locally. They also stock handmade and household items like homemade goat milk soaps.
Well, there you have it, a well-rounded guide of food-shopping locations around Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal. Spend wisely, dear friend, and enjoy your vacation in paradise!