Amimodo is an old-school yet new-school family style and family friendly Italian restaurant on the main road in Puerto Viejo. A nondescript, single story cafe style that's invitingly and casual from the street side and the beach side, Amimodo doesn't need to toot it's own horn; those in the know have been coming here for excellent authentic Italian dishes and special occasions since the doors opened nearly twenty years ago. The seating spills out from inside to out, and there is a little bar inside for pizza and cocktails. Some nights a live band plays spirited Caribbean music, but mostly it is a mellow vibe.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: Enjoy all the pizza and pasta you can here, it's all made to order with farm fresh toppings.
Sophia's expert tip: Happy Hour is on most days, with inexpensive tapas and "drinks of the day" specials, like a Pipa Loca, fresh green coconut spiked with rum and garnished with an exotic flower.
Veronica's Place is a completely vegetarian restaurant on the Caribbean coast where the chef owner is Veronica herself, a Puerto Viejo native whose roots trace back to Jamaica and whose culinary style reflects her deep knowledge of local ingredients. Try the coconut rice and beans, Ron Don soup, and yucca pudding for dessert. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, vegan, or raw, and made with good health in mind. One of Veronica's specialties is fruit and ginger whipped into a refreshing smoothie, a unique concoction that will linger on your taste buds and in your memories long after the last sip.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: Every dish is created from farm fresh ingredients from within a few feet of this vegetarian favorite.
Sophia's expert tip: If you like the cuisine, consider a cooking class with Veronica herself, a steal at only $25, including a big vegetarian spread.
Perched on the edge of the coral reef overlooking the beautiful coast of Cahuita, Sobre las Olas is a perfect little restaurant that has excellent food to match its ambience. The best seats are outside nestled between the palm trees, where mussels on the half shell and ceviche are fine appetizers to get you in the mood for an excellent meal. Italian owners have created a menu with the home country's influence but focused on fresh local ingredients and expertly prepared seafood. If you haven't happened upon it while visiting Cahuita, it's worth asking to be pointed in the right direction and is a pleasant stroll just north of town. Bonus: There is a full bar here, too.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: Fresh seafood is sourced steps away from the tables on the sand.
Sophia's expert tip: Score a table outside in the sand and enjoy the view.
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 Farm to Table because: Farm fresh ingredients find their way into each dish at Cafe Rico.
Sophia's expert tip: Cafe Rico is one of the only places in town that serves Cafe Britt, one of Costa Rica's best coffees.
Locals and tourists enjoy gathering at Bread and Chocolate to partake in some wholesome breakfasts, lunches, and signature baked goods here, which include handmade truffles, delectable brownies, and scrumptious muffins. There are only a handful of tables on the raised deck just off the main road in the center of town, but even when there's a full house it just seems cozy rather than crowded. Coffee is served in individual French presses, and everything is made fresh right there in the busy kitchen that Tom oversees. Bread and Chocolate is open from 6:30am to 6:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 6:30 to 2:30 on Sundays (closed Mondays). It's also cash only.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: Local cacao is a signature ingredient here, and its featured in truffles, cakes, cookies and muffins.
Sophia's expert tip: Celebrating a birthday in PV? Bread and Chocolate now makes custom cakes for special occasions, and they are beautiful!
The first of its kind in Puerto Viejo de Limon, KOKI Beach is a truly eco-friendly establishment; a bar, restaurant and lounge made almost entirely from reclaimed materials that takes relaxing and dining and turns them into art forms. With a full bar and a lunch and dinner menu that incorporates lots of local organic produce, Koki Beach invites guests to relax and stay awhile, while giving them plenty to look at- the water's edge is just across the way, and the design details like the unique chair collection and tables made from old doors will have you feeling inspired, and impressed.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: The kitchen cranks out a long list of tapas and appies made from farm fresh findings.
Sophia's expert tip: Koki Beach is a great place to go on holidays to see unique artistic presentations like the wine bottle tree at Christmas and take advantage of seasonal specials, like the ceviche.
With a name like Chimera, one might expect an a diverse selection of food, and this Santa Elena restaurant delivers. Every plate is a creative fusion of flavors, many of which are Latin, all of which are wrought from the bounty of local ingredients that only the little enclave of Santa Elena, near the Monteverde Cloudforest, can offer. Tapas are the perfect solution for hungry travelers, and Chimera has a way with them. Perfect for sharing among a group of friends and especially for a romantic tasting dinner, each dish is an inspired fusion. The gazpacho appetizer, coconut shrimp, and ginger margarita all come highly recommended.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: Latin tapas of locally grown ingredients fill the farm fresh bill.
Sophia's expert tip: In Greek Mythology, a Chimera is a fire-breathing female creature of Lycia in Asia Minor, comprised of sections of three different animals: a lion, a serpent and a goat.
Whether you're in the mood for fluffy pancakes made with real organic chocolate 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 Farm to Table because: The family farm fills the kitchen with fresh organic pineapple, papaya, starfruit and soursop.
Sophia's expert tip: Don't miss a chance to enjoy the best piña coladas in Costa Rica, made with fresh organic pineapples.
Those with a hankering for high-quality meat should look no further than Doris Metropolitan, a stand-out- and stand alone- restaurant in Costa Rica. Embracing the locally-grown movement wholeheartedly, Doris Metropolitan partners with a cattle farm in southern Costa Rica to specially raise cow that are fed not only grass but pineapple, which gives the meat a uniquely marbled texture and distinctly sweet flavor; qualities which sometimes tend to be lacking in much of the rest of world's including Costa Rica's- beef. Specialties include meat cured all-naturally in a process known as French Dry Aged and Chateaubriand Tenderloin and homemade sourdough bread.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: The special beef here is raised on a farm of organic pineapple before being served.
Sophia's expert tip: Don't skimp on the bread here; it's all homebaked and the sour dough comes from a secret recipe that takes thirteen months to cure.
If delicious authentic Italian cuisine served in a delightful open-air restaurant well off-the beaten track on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast sounds like your cup of tea, look no further than La Pecora Nera (the black sheep in Italian). The Italian chef Ilario is as charismatic as he is talented in the kitchen, and his recommendations of daily specials are always spot on, but you can't go wrong with anything on the simple yet well-rounded menu. It's romantic yet family-friendly, unpretentious yet undeniably special, and easily one of the top 10 best restaurants in Costa Rica. Find it in the small community of Cocles just south of Puerto Viejo de Limon.
Recommended for Farm to Table because: Many ingredients in these tasty Italian dishes are grown in the chef's own garden.
Sophia's expert tip: The bruschetta mixta is a perfect appetizer for two, delicate toasts topped with a variety of Italian ingredients like roasted eggplant and proscuitto crudo.