At Soda Lidia, traditional dishes like rice and beans are infused with coconut and served with chicken in Caribbean sauce, and there are plenty of hearty options for vegetarians, like a casado with plantains and salad. It's a casual place nestled against the jungle' edge behind the main road of Puerto Viejo, where Lidia still runs her kitchen like a tight ship and locals gather to catch up after a day of surfing. It's casual but cozy, and the casados include Lidia's special slaw- if you have yet to try patacones (fried plantains), here's a great spot to do so.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Authentic Caribbean cuisine served in a casual setting is a must eat for breakfast.
Sophia's expert tip: The Chicken in Caribbean sauce is a local and visitor favorite.
Sometimes, all you want for breakfast is a Grand Slam, and if the mood hits, you can head to Denny's at Costa Rica. Better yet, this Denny's has the original American style Denny's menu, with the addition of gallo pinto with some breakfast dishes. The decor is familiar with cozy red booths and the waitstaff are friendly. Denny's is located near the airport at the base of the Best Western Irazu, and it's open seven days a week, twenty four hours a day. It's easy to catch a cab to and from, since taxis are frequently around the hotel and restaurant.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Denny's doesn't disappoint, and it serves its great breakfast dishes plus Costa Rican versions that include gallo pinto.
Sophia's expert tip: This Denny's is open 24-hours, and right next door to a casino.
Serenitea is a delightful place to enjoy lunch or just a cup of finely brewed tea in the fine neighborhood of Escaz�. Its peaceful atmosphere encourages relaxation and contemplation, so it makes a fine addition to an active day of sightseeing and dining out. Choose from 45 different flavors of tea, and nibble from a menu of bite size sandwiches, healthy wraps and savory salads, all designed to complement the exquisite tea-drinking experience. One of the highlights of Serenitea is the dessert selection, which includes macaroons as tasty as they are colorful. Serenitea is open 7:30 am to 7:30 pm
Recommended for Breakfast because: Nibble on tea cakesm sip on over 50 varieties of tea and enjoy a lovely breakfast with bread made in house.
Sophia's expert tip: This is one of the few places to find true tea experts in a land of coffee.
Chelles has been an institution in San Jose for as long as most of the regulars can remember, and it's easy to see why. It's a long-standing spot that has been drawing devotees to its simple setting since 1909! Chelles is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and serves all kinds of fare, from the simple bocas that come with drinks, to hearty platters of Arroz con Pollo that will soak up the excesses of the night before. Breakfast at Chelles in the wee hours, as in after the bars have closed, is a quintessential San Jose experience.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Open since 1909, Chelles is a must visit for an exceptional typical Costa Rica breakfast.
Sophia's expert tip: Grab a bite at Chelles after the bars close and save yourself a headache when the sun comes up.
If you're into good food, go to Bread & Chocolate, for breakfast, brunch or lunch. There's a big chalkboard with the menu on it so your appetite is piqued while your cozy wood table is set, by a talented server who somehow navigates the tables on this cozy wooden deck. Coffee is served in individual French presses, and everything is made fresh right there in the busy kitchen that makes much more than its name suggests. Bread and Chocolate is open from 6:30am to 6:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 6:30 to 2:30 on Sundays (closed Mondays). Bread and Chocolate accepts cash only.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Rain or shine, the breakfast and coffee at Bread & Chocolate will make your day happy.
Sophia's expert tip: Take some fresh baked goodies to go for snacking on later in the day.
At the center of Puerto Viejo a large hand painted sign points the way to "The Best Damn Coffee in Town," and if you follow the sign to the otherwise incognito spot behind the main road you will not be disappointed- but it's not just excellent coffee on tap here- Cafe Rico also serves some of the best breakfasts around and offers a mighty fine lunch selection, too- all served in a shady, open-air space surrounded by lush vegetation (look for sloths and exotic birds in the trees) and the town's best used book selection. The service is friendly and you're more than welcome to while away the morning into afternoon, or perhaps rent a bike, snorkel equipment, or even do your laundry here (which gets you a free cup of damn good joe).
Recommended for Breakfast because: Excellent, healthy breakfasts are complemented by exceptional cappucinos and lattes.
Sophia's expert tip: Cafe Rico has the best coffee in town, hands down.
This is where to come for coffee, croissants, baguettes, and if there's a soccer game on, you can watch it here. Located in a casual open air spot steps from the beach, many of the tables outside have a view of the water. The prices for breakfast and lunch are the lowest in town and you get plenty of breakfast for your colones. All the baking is done in- house and the glass display is brimming with goodies that are hard to resist. Pan Pay opens at 7 but closes in the late afternoon, and everything on the menu is good.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Fresh baked baguettes and delicious breakfast dishes in a casual setting.
Sophia's expert tip: Chocolate bundt cake is delicious and not available everyday.
What started as a simple hotel café has expanded to become one of the country's finest restaurants with well-earned reputation. Casually elegant, this restaurant is situated off the Grano de Oro Hotel's central courtyard which provides for pleasant seating options on cooperative days. A Frech chef is behind the European menu has Costa Rican influences and changes regularly, featuring seafood, beef, chicken and vegetable offerings. If it's available on your visit, try the macadamia-encrusted covina or the Gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon, but truly whatever you choose will shine. And most certainly make room for dessert as the offerings here are scrumptious.
Recommended for Breakfast because: A sumptuous breakfast on the open-air patio within the hotel ranks high on the must-eat-here list.
Sophia's expert tip: This is the place for a special occasion meal or date night.
Whether you're in the mood for fluffy pancakes made topped with fresh fruit and yogurt or a platter of huevos rancheros, the Lizard King Café has something on its menu for everyone. Burritos at the Lizard King are legendarily delicious flour tortillas stuffed with farm fresh ingredients and topped with special salsa unlike any other. The lunch menu includes a range of farm fresh dishes from traditional casados to Caribbean specialties and twists on Mexican favorites, like the reggae roots nachos and the marlin and pineapple kabobs served with coconut rice. Homemade bread and pastries are treats, as are the cheeseburgers.
Recommended for Breakfast because: The best piña coladas, pancakes and patacones are just a few of the reasons.
Sophia's expert tip: Don't miss a chance to enjoy the best piña coladas in Costa Rica, made with fresh organic pineapples.
La Criollita is an excellent place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has something on the menu for everyone. The fare is traditional Costa Rican; generous portions of meat, chicken and fish with rice, beans and salad on the side, and big selection of delicious appetizers like Tico-style ceviche and a tasty chicken soup to whet the appetite. There are three dining spaces, a main room that overlooks the big and busy kitchen, a bright and airy side room with art-filled walls, and a charming covered outdoor terrace with a bird garden and wrought iron furniture. There is rarely a wait for a table, but lunch time fills up early with nearby business people, so breakfast and dinner are ideal for settling into a relaxing meal. The coffee is excellent, too,save room for dessert; checkout the options like flan and cheesecake on display under the glass on your way in. Bonus: Full Bar.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Traditional Costa Rican breakfasts are done just right in this busy open kitchen.
Sophia's expert tip: "Express Breakfast" specials can't be beat: try the gallo pinto with tropical fruit, eggs, toast, coffee and juice for a song.