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10 Best Restaurants with Healthy Menus Feature Fresh Organic Ingredients



Eating healthy in Costa Rica is easy as long as you keep away from the decadent desserts like tres leches cake. From the capital city of San Jose, to the edge of the rain forests, and along the coast, an abundance of restaurants with healthy menus serve up the freshest organic fruits and vegetables, fresh-caught fish, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. From simple roadside sodas to more sophisticated spots, the restaurants with the healthiest menus make eating well a uniquely Costa Rican experience. Up in the lush Monteverde Cloudforest, chef Sofia brings seasonal, organic vegetables to life in her intimate restaurant Chimera, where tasting plates like the hearts of palm beignets and shrimp ceviche are healthy tapas perfect for sharing. Along the Caribbean coast, La Pecora Nera sits nestled in the rainforest just far enough beyond the bustle of Puerto Viejo de Limon. In the kitchen, Ilario creates healthy Italian dishes from scratch, drawing ingredients from his own garden.


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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 are highly recommended.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Farmer's market fresh produce is the main attraction among the tapas here.

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.

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Product C is part of a growing group of restaurants in Costa Rica that embodies the locally grown movement, serving fresh-caught seafood that spends very little time between the water and the table. What started as a beachside fish shop in the surf town of Mal Pais has blossomed into two modern concept restaurants in the capital city of San Jose that serve locally and sustainably caught seafood including four kinds of ceviche and raw warm-water oysters. The chef works with the fishermen directly, then brings his creativity to each dish, and the results are fresh, flavorful, and perhaps even unforgettable.

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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 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. Located in the tiny beach community of Cocles, La Pecora Nera is only open for dinner.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Farm fresh ingredients become healthy Italian dishes at the hands of the inspired chef here.

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.

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Whether you're in the mood for a stack of pancakes topped with homemade yogurt and fresh fruit 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 healthy dishes from traditional casados to Caribbean specialties and twists on Mexican favorites, like the reggae roots nachos and the marlin pineapple kabobs served with coconut rice. Homemade bread and pastries are baked fresh every day.

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KOKI Beach is an open-air 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. Koki Beach is a great place to go on holidays to see unique artistic presentations like the wine bottle tree at Christmas.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: The menu features plenty of vegetarian options and appetizers perfect for sharing.

Sophia's expert tip: Check out seasonal art installations in the park next door.

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La Botanica Organica is a delightful vegetarian restaurant in the tiny beach community of Playa Chiquita a few kilometers south of Puerto Viejo de Limon. Everything ingredient is organic, and there are macrobiotic, raw, vegan and gluten-free dishes to choose from. From whole wheat French toast to lentil burgers and hummus sandwiches, each plate is prepared on the spot and many are accompanied by delicious homemade sides and sauces that you can't find anywhere else. Open for breakfast lunch and now dinner from 8am to 8 pm Monday through Friday and 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday (closed on Sundays) La Botanica Organica is a must visit for vegetarians and all foodies in search of delicious fresh fare.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Veganm gluten-free and macrobiotic options round out the healthy menu here.

Sophia's expert tip: Take home some signature homemade cashew butter dubbed "The Stuff."

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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.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Wholesome sandwiches on homemade bread are among the many healthy options.

Sophia's expert tip: Celebrating a birthday in PV? Bread and Chocolate now makes custom cakes for special occasions, and they are beautiful!

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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.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Vegetarian Caribbean cuisine is made as healthy as can be.

Sophia's expert tip: If you like the cuisine, consider a cooking class with Veronica herself.

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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

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Tin Jo
Photo courtesy of Tin Jo Restaurant

Restaurante Tin-Jo has rightfully named itself "the best" restaurant in Costa Rica, offering delicious, healthy Asian cuisine from its home in an original colonial mansion in the heart of the capital city of San Jose. What started out as a Chinese restaurant in 1972 has blossomed into Thailand, Viet Nam, and Japan for its inspired menu. The menu is full of vegetarian and naturally gluten free options, and the desserts are exotic, decadent, and to-die-for without being bad for you. Televisions are nowhere to be seen and cells phones are turned off in the Bamboo Room, a sanctuary annex of Tin-Jo.

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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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