San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

There’s some good food for body and mind in the village of Río Piedras, at the northern end of LakeArenal. Where Río Piedras is low, it is very, very low, and where it is high, it is very high. What might be called RíoPiedrasHeights is home to quite a few expats as well as Café y Macadamia, a semi-outdoor restaurant with a beautiful view and excellent sandwiches, pastries and other dishes of international appeal.

Those wanting a typical meal can descend from the heights on a steep, winding stretch of lake highway to the center of Río Piedras, where “Mama” provides multi-dish casados at Café Macha, across a footbridge from the highway. A quarter-mile westward is the place to feed one’s mind as well as body, the Casa Delagua, where Frank Goodell, proud founder of the region’s lone bookstore, has been stocking books appealing to a wide range of interests so that the potboilers are losing space on the shelves. While looking over the books, you can enjoy the fine art of Juan Carlos Ruiz, nature’s art in the form of a wonderful view of lazily lapping LakeArenal, and the coffee and other fare of Mery’s café.

Río Piedras is also the source of Holger Naumann’s smoked tilapia, whose growing popularity may soon require a bigger smoker. Since I last wrote about Holger’s tilapia, I’ve heard rave reviews from various of the newly initiated. His farm is in a peaceful valley a half-mile or less north of Casa Delagua. Holger has regular routes to stores and restaurants on both sides of the lake and will make deliveries to homes. Orders can be made by contacting him at 8704-9196 or You may also buy fresh or smoked fish right at his home, but you should call first. The pleasant country lane to his farm takes off behind the Soda Ciprés, near the center of Río Piedras.

–Alex Murray

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