Arenal Restaurants & Nightlife
The first decision you'll have to make when dining in Arenal is whether to stay in or eat out. Staying in means braving the prices of your hotel's restaurant and that'll be a pretty penny more than almost anywhere in town. Alternatively, you could drive into La Fortuna or try one of the restaurants scattered along the highway around Arenal volcano. La Fortuna, the major hub for restaurants and night life, has many different restaurants to choose from and most fall under one of three categories; fusion, sodas and international.
Fusion restaurants are basically a smorgasbord of international dishes that include pasta, steak and seafood plus Costa Rican favorites like casado. In-town favorites among travelers include Lava Lounge, Don Rufino's and Punto Fusion, but most hotels in Arenal could probably fall under the label as well. These restaurants tend to have similar menus and are mostly differentiated by ambiance and price – roughly between $10 and $30 per entree.
Sodas are the best finds for travelers who'd rather spend their money on adventure than fine dining. These little dollops of culture have identical menus of Costa Rican staples like casado (spiced meat, rice beans and veggie sides), arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) and homemade sandwiches. Each restaurant has its own style and flavor. Prices range from $4-$6 for a plate.
The third category includes the rest of those hard-to-pin-down international restaurants that each fills a different niche. These are the pizza places, the two Japanese restaurants, the steakhouses, the Peruvian restaurant and the Burger King, all of which you'll find within La Fortuna's town limits.
Despite La Fortuna being the tourist hub of Arenal, there isn't a whole lot happening in town after 9 p.m. The Lava Lounge tends to be the most popular bar in town, though you'll find a few bars scattered around the central park. Apparently bar Kazan (located beside the Cascada restaurant) has loud music, tie-dye and tiki huts, but you'll have to check that out for yourself.