Although they may look similar, not all the roadside sodas and open-air cafes that compete for space along the main route are equally good, and choosing wisely will make or break your culinary tour of the town. Cacao fruit — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica For a hearty and delicious breakfast, you've got at least three solid choices. The Lizard King Resort is known for it's delectable pancakes and crepes. Piled high, smothered in fresh fruit, yogurt and honey, these pancakes will stick to your ribs without leaving you uncomfortably full. Bread and Chocolate, a popular, cozy spot near the town center, offers a full menu from bagels to patatas bravas as well as a case full of homemade pastries that include their signature truffles. Around the bend in a shady hideaway lies Cafe Rico, serving Costa Rican Cafe Britt in drip and espresso forms, along with delectable breakfast and brunch fare. Gallo pinto breakfast — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
For lunch, an excellent (and affordable) choice is Soda Lidia, where you'll find authentic Caribbean cuisine such as coconut-infused beans and rice with chicken, and a choice of tasty batidos (fruit smoothies) made from local fresh fruit. Vegetarians won't want to miss Veronica's Place, located upstairs in a little blue house across from the Old Harbor Market on the main road. Veronica is a Puerto Viejo native who knows her kitchen and garden better than the back of her hand, and specializes in vegan and macrobiotic dishes. Foodies may want to sign up for her culinary classes, and spend part of a day learning the secrets of preparing Caribbean cuisine.
Chocolate lovers can explore the origins of the "food of the gods" with the Chocolate Forest Experience, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to discover the roots of chocolate from the cacao tree to the bar on a guided tour through a cacao forest, culminating with a sunset tasting overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
If you're interested in a romantic Italian meal, La Pecora Nera is one of Costa Rica's best restaurants, tucked away down a side road just south of the town center. The Italian chef/owner, Ilario , grows most of his own produce and gathers his ingredients from his front yard. A charismatic chef who infuses his cooking with style, Giannoni will be happy to recommend a bottle of wine to pair with your meal.
Stashu's con Fusion (formerly El Loco Natural) is an excellent choice for diners who seek originality on their plate. Tastes of Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean, to name a few, flavor Stashu's inspired creations, and the candle-lit atmosphere is as inviting as it gets. Desserts are one area where Puerto Viejo could use a few more choices, but Stashu's offers plenty of options to satisfy your sweet tooth. The chef's creamy mango confections, for example, always win raves.