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El Avion

El Avion

Destination: Manuel Antonio

El Avión is one of the most popular restaurants in Manuel Antonio, instantly recognizable as the restaurant built around the plane. And not just any plane, it's a C-123 cargo plane peeks out the front of El Avión as a lasting reminder of the Reagan administration's misguided attempt to sell arms to Nicaraguan rebels during the Iran Contra affair.

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The inside of the plane now features a colorfully-lit bar playing nightly party anthems, though they left the cockpit intact so that you can have a few drinks and live out your fantasies of being a pilot.

The restaurant around the plane features ocean views great for catching the sunset over a few cocktails like the ego trip, $8, made with gold tequila, pineapple and cream of coconut, or the green flash, $8, with rum, tequila, vodka, triple sec, gin, lime juice and coke.

The restaurant specializes in seafood like the jumbo coconut shrimp, at market price, with spicy mango salsa; or the seared El Avión yellow fin tuna, $16, sprinkled in a sesame, ginger soy sauce and served with rice and grilled vegetables.

El Avión's menu also includes pastas, sandwiches, and grilled fare like the tenderloin,$20, imported from Paraguay; a thick, tender cut served in a cognac sauce with rice and grilled vegetables.


El Avion's massive piece of historical evidence was left to gather dust at the airport in San Jose for 14 years until the owners of El Avión bought, dismantled and trucked it up to be rebuilt atop the hills of Manuel Antonio.

There's ample seating with two bars, a large dining area and a bar inside the plane. Sitting on the patio is great at sunset, while the mood shifts after sun goes down and the servers illuminate the tables with candles. The bar hidden within the plane's cargo hold attracts crowds and partiers looking for cocktails and dance music.


The restaurant's size and popularity seem to leave the servers a little distant. While the service was adequate you might have to wait patiently to track down your server.


Apps $7-$11; Entrees $9-$20; Cocktails $3-$7


1 p.m.-10 p.m.

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El Avion in Pictures