Jungle Love Cafe is a little open-air restaurant on the edge of Costa Rica's Manzanillo-Gandoca Wildlife Refuge, a few kilometers south of Puerto Viejo de Limon. Surrounded by greenery, the gazebo-style place has just a handful of tables and offers couples an exceptionally romantic dining experience.
Jungle Love Cafe's cuisine is a fusion of flavors that could be called comfort food with a tropical twist. All plates are comprised of locally grown ingredients and made to order in a small kitchen right next to the wood bar. Desserts are a highlight at Jungle Love Cafe, and they often feature local chocolate and exotic fruits.
Chocolate cake at Jungle Love Cafe — Photo courtesy of Jungle Love Cafe
Mouthwatering specials such as the Honey Sriracha Porkloin, served with blackberry-daikon rice and curried vegetables, make for date meals you can reminisce about for years. And for starters, there are simpler but no less delicious pizzas and salads that are perfect for sharing.
Besides candles on the tables and bouquets of fresh flowers on the bar, the cafe's soundtrack is perfectly suited to romance, too, thanks to the curated playlists of DJ Yamu Myles (who also happens to be the chef). He may, on occasion, be found pouring drinks and chatting up guests at the cozy bar, too.
Vegetarians and those with special dietary needs will appreciate Jungle Love Cafe's effort to satisfy special requests. This is a rarity in many Costa Rican establishments, where menu items may as well be etched in stone. Here, specials are written in chalk, or explained by your waitress.
Couples looking for a place to tie the knot with an intimate ceremony and small reception will be happy to know that Jungle Love Cafe is available by reservation for such special occasions. Steps away is the secluded beach of Playa Chiquita, picture-perfect for small ceremonies on the sand.
In addition to being a most romantic of restaurants, Jungle Love Cafe is most moderately priced. So you can spend the extra colones on some of the Caribbean's extra-curricular activities, such as the nearby (and also very romantic) Chocolate Forest Experience.
For an unusual souvenir, pick up a jar of Jungle Love's "Slow Death" pepper sauce, a fiery blend of Scotch Bonnets and habaneros that has quite a distinctive kick. This hot sauce is only available at the cafe.
Jungle Love Cafe is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended in the high season and for groups of five or more.