Kalaluna is known as one of the best restaurants in the Drakes Bay area, Trip Advisor currently has it at #1 in their listings. It’s just outside the village of Agujitas on the coastal pathway to Cocolito Beach; if you’re staying in the village it’s going to take you between 15 to 30 minutes to walk there, depending on where in the village you are. We visited after a day at Cocolito Beach, which is a lovely half hour walk away, and it’s worth showing you a few photos of what we saw on the way to the restaurant, to give you an idea of what maybe in store for you if you visit. First, the beach (this beach is the first of many you’ll find dotted along the coastal path). Apart from at the weekend there were very few people here, and this was high season.

And here are some images of the animals we saw on the pathway that leads through the rainforest. The pathway is easy to follow, and it mostly either hard packed dirt or paving slab.

Howler Monkey.
Collared Trogon.
White Faced Capucin Monkey.
The view from the front steps of Kalaluna.

We were obviously thirsty after spending all day walking in the sun and at the beach so we freshened up with a cocktail and a beer as we spoke to Claudio – who owns the restaurant along with his wife, Shirley – about how the restaurant came to be, and some of the challenges and guiding principles behind the running of it.

Shirley and Claudio, the owners – and head chefs – of Kalaluna.
A cocktail with a view.

Claudio has been a professional chef all of his life, first in his native Italy, then in many other countries including Dubai and various islands of the Caribbean. It was whilst working in the Caribbean that he came to Costa Rica on holiday, and fell in love with the place. Soon after he was offered a head chef job in Drakes Bay, accepted immediately and it was there that he met Shirley, who was also working as a chef at the same hotel.

“We decided to open Kalaluna a few years ago, and it’s been a great success,” he explained. “It’s sometimes tricky to get some ingredients, such as good mozarella, though. There’s only one producer of this in all of Costa Rica, and they’re far away in Guanacaste. I have to drive for hours, to near the Panama border, to pick up our shipments of it, and if for some reason they’re delayed, we don’t use a replacement. We just cross the item off the menu. You can see there, on our menu, the items with ‘no’ written next to them, that’s because we couldn’t get a certain key item for the dish. For instance, if we can’t get the good mozarella, there’s no caprese salad. If we can’t get the Parmesan, then the spaghetti bolognaise is crossed off. There are substitute cheeses available here but there’re all like cardboard. I’m Italian, I can’t serve up sub standard food!”

Here’s a photo we took of the menu on the wall the next day in full daylight, you can see there are a couple of items crossed off. Looks like the Parmesan was available that day! We find this comforting to hear, we love passionate chefs like Claudio, and chefs with standards. Food is such a joy, how can a reasonable person not be passionate about it! It also means that if you eat at Kalaluna, whatever you order will be carefully prepared, in the correct manner. There are no short cuts here at all. Which is probably one of the reasons that it’s always booked up every night. Take note, if you want to eat there, reserve in advance.

Claudio also spoke about his passion for using traditional local ingredients such as green papaya.

“Locals used to eat this all the time as a snack, but now, like in many countries, snacks mean chips, or fast food, and the green papaya is hardly every seen. But green papaya is so good! We use it in the gnocchi. And I’ve recently created a new take on guacamole. I’ve never liked it but Shirley prepared some for me and I thought, this is nice, but I think I can improve it. I’m going to bring you some for your first course, see if you can guess the extra ingredients I put in, ok?”

We happily agreed. Claudio departed for the kitchen and we enjoyed our drinks, and a chickpea salad that was sent out whilst we waited for our guacamole to be created freshly for us…

…and also we spoke to an elderly Swedish couple who sat down at the next table. They said they’d been coming to the Corcovado area for 20 years.

“The wildlife viewing here is the best in Costa Rica, without a doubt. That hasn’t changed. But it’s so nice now to be able to eat well, to this level, as well as having the nature all around. We eat here often, and no matter what we order, it’s always excellent. Enjoy your meal!”

The guacamole was beautifully presented, the puffed up disks reminded me of the Indian-style ‘puri’, they also had a similar airy texture and crispness. As for the secret guac ingredients, I think I detected Kalamata olives, and maybe some capers (later I did ask Claudio, but he’s keeping his recipe a secret. I’ve since experimented with both ingredients and found them a nice addition, they really add a feeling of the Mediterranean to the dish!)

For main course we had pesto pasta; N had the green, I had the red. Mine was made primarily with red cabbage, which I thought ingenious, and something that I have also since experimented with at home to great effect. This is a game changer for me, this idea that pesto can have a variety of base ingredients, not just basil and pine nuts. It’s a concept rather than a set recipe. Once you realise this, a different realm of cooking opens up.

We both loved our pastas, and were satisfied, but there was a little space left for a sweet, and since the candlelit restaurant was such a romantic place to linger on a warm tropical evening we ordered a chocolate dessert.

The dessert was smoothly blended, and rich; we didn’t need much of it as it was very dense. It was an excellent and satisfying manner in which to end our visit. Then we walked back to our room (note; take a flashlight, you’re going to need it. The walk to the village is easy enough but there are hardly any streetlights), it’d been a magnificent day!

Check out Kalaluna, they have a website here – https://kalaluna-bistro.negocio.site/

and a Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/Kalalunabistro/

and there’s also lots written about them on Tripadvisor.