Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 9 p.m. in the summer months.
Don’t confuse Costa Rican cuisine with Mexican food. Some of the ingredients are the same, and Luis Bolaños, the owner/chef at Tierra y Mar (Land & Ocean) in Ridgway, keeps plenty of Pacificos and Dos Equis on ice ($2.99 a bottle). But Tico food has its own distinct flavors and textures. “Here, nothing is made hot, spicy,” Bolaños said in his heavily accented English. “The spices are on the wall” – he waved a hand at the bottles of hot sauce on the windowsills – and customers are welcome to add more heat if they wish. At its purest – and Tierra y Mar is pure Tico – Costa Rican fare is fresh and tangy, and the colorful tastes of each ingredient stand out. Take the house specialty Ceviche Pura Vida (small: $7.99). The cold seafood dish features shrimp and mahi-mahi (also known as dorado or common dolphinfish) “cooked” by the citric acid in fresh-squeezed lime juice. The mahi-mahi is firm and sweet, like the shrimp, but neither overshadows the clean, crunchy combination of finely-chopped fresh red, yellow, orange and green peppers, cilantro, and red and green onions. It’s served with round corn chips. Or take Bolaños’ Guacamole ($5.99). Each serving is made from a whole avocado and flavored not with hot salsa, but with lots of garlic and onion and salt. The result is a sharper guac, without the burn. Bolaños recommends a fresh fruit Liquado (large: $5.49) to compliment the above – if you’re not having beers. They come in fresh strawberry, orange, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, peach, or mango. His own favorite is a mango/pineapple combo, a refreshing, sweet-but-not-too-sweet contrast to the tart citrus in the Ceviche. “I make everything natural,” Bolaños said. “I don’t do cans. I go buy all my own avocados and tomatoes and mangos and pineapples and limes. I take Sundays off and go shopping.” For dessert, you may not be able to pass up the double chocolate cake under glass on the counter, baked and liberally frosted by Bolaños’ wife, Michele.
DON’T MISS: The Tico Heart of Palm salad: hearts of palm, avocado, green olives, cucumber, red, green, orange, and yellow peppers, cabbage, lime and tomato, with a traditional Costa Rican rose sauce ($10.99).
PERFECT FOR: Take out; you can call ahead. Or lunch with Carlos Santana on the flat-screen TV, laying down the Latin chords.
THE VIBE: It feels like Central America with the brightly-painted yellow and turquoise walls, the maps of Bolaños’ homeland, the simple café tables – some outside, within earshot of the river – and the friendly one-man crew in the kitchen.