Banco de los Mariscos in Santa Barbara, Heredia

Despite there are other three-four restaurants in the Central Valley with same name or very similar (Balcón de los Mariscos), this one ranks head and shoulders above them all. It even compares favorably with venues that costs twice as much and reside by the sea.

This restaurant is located on the charming hilltop town of Santa Barbara de Heredia – about nine miles northeast of the SJO international airport. A large red & blue sign on the right side of the road marks the private drive. Except on weekends when both large parking lots are packed, access is easy. This is TRULY a locals’ favorite! Spacious, airy, happy, busy – these are adjectives that come to mind right away.

El Banco de los Mariscos serves large portions of very fresh seafood at prices well below the competition. Service is fast and efficient, and even attentive during peak hours. No tablecloths or fancy cutlery on the bare wooden tables surrounded by plastic chairs, but the indoor and outdoor vegetation as well as the ceiling fans make it attractive. The tables are adequately spaced to afford privacy and ease of navigation. Neither the food is fancy. Plating is simple and straightforward. Unless you specify the contrary, your selection will come with fries and a salad. The main ingredient, however, is likely to be twice the usual size and prepared well.

If you can eat more than most people, you might want to start with one of the nine ceviches (US$ 4-8), six salads (US$ 5-10), seafood soup or marine party soup (US$ 5). Among the favorites are boneless whole sea-bass deep fried crispy outside and sweet and moist inside, plain or with asparagus cream sauce – priced by weight. The mixed seafood plate sautéed in garlic butter is enormous and devoid of shells. The octopus in it is remarkably tender. Last but not least, there’s also an assortment of beef, chicken and pasta dishes for those who mistrust seafood but still want to join the party.

We’ve been coming to this place for more than 15 years and it’s one of our favorites and well as fellow ticos who praised their services on TripAdvisor. This is a popular option for families on weekends and a great spot to watch the local football league games.

Banco de los Mariscos opens every day, and their regular schedule is from 11:30AM to 10PM. They close earlier on Sundays. Phone for reservations: 2269 – 9090.

Their facebook fan page: Banco de los Mariscos Santa Barbara