Featured Restaurant – Sentido Norte at Casa Chameleon

Featured Restaurant – Sentido Norte at Casa Chameleon

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You know you’ve arrived when valet parking comes with the territory of a grand destination. But metaphors about taking such amenities for granted have no place at Casa Chameleon, any more than initial apprehensions about culinary indulgence measuring up to the promise of such magnificent surroundings.

As locals and visitors have been discovering since the hotel and restaurant opened in February, this exquisite gem by the sea may not remain one of Guanacaste’s best-kept secrets much longer. Executive chef Jose Lopez and his team are working tirelessly to create not just delicious food, but an adult fine-dining experience that celebrates the flavours of Costa Rica while not breaking the bank. Menu prices include taxes and service, presenting a financially accessible way to savour a taste for luxury.

Your drive through winding roads above the quaint beach town of Las Catalinas is rewarded by the awe-inspiring sight of a modern, inviting establishment whose soft, artistic lighting beckons in the sun’s afterglow. From the bright and welcoming entrance, you’ll be invited to follow a short brick pathway further in a gorgeous, open-air perch framed by a panoramic view of the Pacific. A design motif incorporating responsibly sourced teak adds a sense of warmth and well-being to the romantically lit atmosphere.

You may be greeted by Michael Gatjens, food and beverage manager, or the general manager, Federico Gurdian. Having been involved since the beginning, Gurdian refers to the enterprise as his “baby.” From the way both go out of their way to make you feel welcome and describe what guests can expect, it’s evident that Sentido Norte is more than just a job to them. It all began with a clear understanding of who the business is catering to and then developing what it wanted to offer. These efforts were supported by world-renowned culinary and restaurant consultants to create the ambiance, signature cocktails, and foods that showcase Costa Rican ingredients from the Pacific to Caribbean coasts with a flair.

With more than 23 years of restaurant industry experience in Costa Rica, Lopez was brought in as a consultant to the US-owned hotel and restaurant and now heads the creative team behind Sentido Norte’s “responsible options” menu. That means the source of the food holds the same importance as its quality and taste. Catch-of-the-day offerings, for instance, are based on local availability as well as stringent quality checks. Every fish purchased must meet conditions of acceptability for being caught, transported, and preserved before making its way onto someone’s plate.

Lopez not only finds ways to incorporate a distinctive Costa Rican element into all meals, but also to celebrate certain “forgotten ingredients” whenever possible. Examples include pejibaye (peach palm fruit), and sweeteners made from the sugar cane over a trapiche, which is a method to harvest sugar cane through a wood fire.

The chef delights in describing each meal on his diverse menu as being full of surprises. Palates are treated to a medley of flavours and textures bite after savor-worthy bite, and it doesn’t end come dessert time. With the “Churchill” comes a story as pleasing as the ingredient mix of shaved ice, ice cream and powdered and condensed milk. And for anyone who’s skeptical about the lip-puckering power of sweetness, there’s Lopez’s treasured recipe from his grandmother for cajeta, a traditional fudge-like dessert.

While they’re proud of their work and unfolding success story, the Sentido Norte team remains humble and open to suggestions for doing better. Guest feedback is considered critical to continuing to offer a dining experience reflective of what their clientele wants.

Address:At Casa Chameleon 4 km North of the Potrero Soccer Field

Phone: 2103 1200


7 days a week 7 am – 10 pm
No children under 12 years

Specialities: Fresh Fish, Sunset Cocktails, “Boquitas” Menu


Sentido Norte, a restaurant and bar at Casa Chameleon, at Las Catalinas, proudly offers the best of Coastal Costa Rican cuisine. All food & drinks are inspired by the country’s bountiful abundance, combining uniquely local and native ingredients in the glass and on the plate.

Menu Selections

Overnight Oats $10.00

Almond milk, yogurt, fruit, cashews, local honey or tapa dulce

French Toast $12.00

Sweet plantains and coconut milk cream

Knife & Fork Tortillas $12.00

Chicharron or Vegan Huevos Rancheros

Vegan Omelletes $6.00

Asparragus, mushroom, and caramelized onion

Casa Chameleon Burger $17.00

Angus Burger with rockett lettuce, swiss or goat cheese, aioli

Ceviche $14.00

Fresh Fish Ceviche, leche de tigre, homemade “chilero”

Grilled Chicken Wrap $12.00

Greens, avocado & tomato, spicy aioli

Vegan Bowl $19.00

Quinoa, mushroom and squash picadillo salad, spicy garbanzo beans

Guacamole and Salsa $10.00

Hearts of Palm Ceviche, avocado & tomato

Octopus & Shrimp Ceviche $25.00

Octopus and Mussels wok-sauteed in garlic butter and white wine

Grilled Skirt Steak $29.00

Skirt steak, chimichurri sauce, salad, french fries

Fresh Tuna Poke $20.00

Raw tuna, mango, avocado

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