Clearly named for the undeniably stellar Caribbean surf that unfolds just across the road, Tasty Waves Cantina does much to revive the classic surfer vibe that first drew tourists to the area; whatever the weather, from the torrential rains that bring mud slides to the places perched along the coast, like Tasty Waves is, to the punishing yet rewarding rights and lefts that make Cocles the most coveted spot along the Caribbean to surf, this winsomely laid-back bar restaurant and beachfront lounge spot with a pool table is happy to be there, and share the beauty of this beautiful place with tacos, tequila shots, and of course, Tasty Waves.
It took awhile, but North Americans have arrived in Puerto Viejo, and some say it's about time, especially since The Point opened, offering sports on seven screens and even Costa Rican craft beers on draft. Now the region has a place where visiting Americans can feel right at home while gazing out at a black sand beach next to the Caribbean sea, not that folks from all over the world don't also frequent this just-off-the-beaten-path place on the outskirts of town. Don't let the immense skull and crossbones, fool you, this spot is full of friendly people and fun times.
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.
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.
Pan Pay is Puerto Viejo's most popular spot for locals; here is where everyone comes for coffee, croissants, baguettes for later, and to catch up with the neighbors- and if there's a soccer game on, you can watch it here. Located in a casual open air spot adjacent to the police station, 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 bang for your buck. Owned by two Spanish brothers who take baking seriously, 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.
If delicious authentic Italian cuisine served in a delightful open-air restaurant well off-the beaten track on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast- or just plain excellent Italian food- 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. Our favorites include the Bruschetta mixta and the Penne Arrabiata. It's romantic yet family-friendly, unpretentious yet undeniably special, and easily one of the top 10 best restaurants in Costa Rica.
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.
Candlelit tables twinkle from the sand, beckoning pedestrians from the side of the road De Paso is nestled between the trees and the water's edge. Named for the path that connects the road to the jungle path and the beach, this little restaurant serves up some excellent, and inexpensive, plates from afternoon til night. Fish tacos are one of many specialties, including pizzas, pastas, and a seafood dish of the day, and there are always two-for-one drinks on happy hour special. This is a beach casual place, flip flops and shirts are optional, a pura vida vibe is the only requisite for dining here.
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.
Whether you're in the mood for fluffy pancakes made with real organic chocolate and topped with fresh fruit or a platter of huevos rancheros, the Lizard King Caf-- has something on its menu for everyone. Burritos at the Lizard King are legendarily delicious flour tortillas stuffed with farm fresh ingredients and slathered with special salsa unlike any other. The lunch menu includes a range of 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 special cheeseburgers.