Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Costa Rica Offer Taste of la Pura Vida



Costa Rica, historically snubbed by restaurant snobs, is getting its day in the sun now that foodies have discovered the delicious flavors found in a growing melting pot of restaurants offering farm fresh, international cuisine. Even casual roadside sodas in the city can serve farm fresh fare since there are farms nearly everywhere. A year-round abundance of colorful ingredients includes super-fruits such as soursop, papaya, cacao and mamonchino, which complement staples such as rice and cassava on a casado, the traditional Costa Rican lunch plate. Snake your way from coast to coast and through the rainforest covered mountains of the country and enjoy many meals sourced directly from the garden or farm, or even grown and harvested at the hands of the chef. In the mountain village of Santa Elena, Chimera is a cozy restaurant serving an original Costa Rica style of farm fresh tapas and small plates perfect for tasting and sharing. On the Caribbean coast, the Lizard King Resort tops homemade pancakes with papayas and pineapple grown just steps away from the inviting open-air café. Don’t miss a meal under the stars at Stashu’s Con Fusion, where every dish is farm fresh, artful, and delish, this is la pura vida.



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Amimodo
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


 

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.


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Veronica's Place


 

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.


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Sobre las Olas
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


 

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.


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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).


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Airport - Sjo

 

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.


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La Pecora Nera
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


 

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.


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Meet Sophia LaMonica

On Sophia's first trip to Costa Rica, she came face to face with white-faced monkeys, gasped at the sight of giant purple crabs, and rode horseback through plunging waterfalls. Costa Rica...  More About Sophia

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