A Barefoot Foodie's Paradise, Puerto Viejo de Limon Has It All



Worlds away from the mega-resorts of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo de Limon maintains its small town charm; it's a delightfully sleepy seaside surfer village with a jaguar's share of great places to eat. Stashu's con Fusion is a standout helmed by an artist in the kitchen and out, his place is noteworthy not only for the creatively inspired food but for the inviting ambience and live music on some nights. La Pecora Nera is a properly hidden gem well off the main road, surrounded by rainforest; here you'll feast on exquisite garden fresh Italian cuisine in a most romantic setting. Bread and Chocolate is the the perfect place to enjoy a wholesome breakfast full of homemade breads and fresh fruits, linger over a latte and sample handmade truffles made with locally grown cacao.  Vegetarians will be delighted at Veronica's Place, and those is search of an authentic Caribbean meal will not be disappointed at Soda Lidia.  A seaside view and fresh food awaits at funky Koki Beach, perched on the edge of the road overlooking the sea in the center of Puerto Viejo, and for a casual bite to eat make your way to Pan Pay across from Police Station and the beach.



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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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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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With such an international selection of food to choose from in Puerto Viejo, it may seem that the Caribbean flavor has been lost in translation, but that is clearly not the case at Soda Lidia, where traditional dishes like rice and beans infused with coconut and served with chicken in Caribbean sauce will delight your senses and filly your belly- and all without putting a dent in your wallet. It's a casual place nestled against the jungle' edge behind the main thoroughfare of Puerto Viejo, where Lidia still runs her ktichen 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.


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Cafe Viejo
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


 

Although it's a fine Italian restaurant first and foremost, with experienced chefs in the kitchen that turn out exceptional dishes based on authentic Italian recipes that come to life with Costa Rica's bounty of fresh ingredients, Cafe Viejo is also a great place to enjoy a cocktail at the bar, and on special nights, dance to the beats of talented DJs who frequently hold later night events at the restaurant. Slightly more sophisticated than its beachfront counterparts, the bar at Cafe Viejo wraps around and spills almost on to the street, and it couldn't be more centrally located on the main road near the middle of town.


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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 is eleagant and has a warm vibe; 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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Bread and Chocolate has become a landmark cafe in Puerto Viejo, and for good(ies) reason. Locals and tourists enjoy gathering 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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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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Stashu's con Fusion is truly a work of art, and a labor of love. One of Puerto Viejo's longest running restaurants (it was formerly called El Loco Natural), Stashu's has been helmed in the kitchen since the early days by Stashu himself, chef and artist whose creations are as pleasing to the eye as they are the palette. Stashu's is a breezy, open air place a few steps south of the center of Puerto Viejo, naturally decorated to feel like the tropical escape that it is, and the menu is full of inspired dishes that make the most of the bounty of local fare- the fish plates are always delicious, but save room for dessert, too.


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Whether you're in the mood for fluffy pancakes made with farm fresh organic chocolate or a platter of huevos rancheros, the Lizard King Café has something on its menu for everyone. Lizard King burritos are legendarily delicious, flour tortillas are stuffed with lots of healthy ingredients and topped with special salsa unlike any other. The lunch menu includes a wide range of breakfast and lunch dishes oncluding traditional casados, Caribbean specialties and twists on Mexican favorites, like "reggae roots nachos" and the "marlin and pineapple kabobs served with coconut rice." Homemade bread and pastries are special treats, as are the cheeseburgers.


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La Pecora Nera
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


 

At La Pecora Nera, delicious, authentic Italian cuisine is served in a romantic, open-air restaurant well off-the beaten track on Costa Rica's Caribbean. 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 La Pecore Nera by looking for the sign on the side of the road a couple kilometers south of town in Cocles.


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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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