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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Take-out tacos, smoothies, salads, and other healthy goodies day and night.
Sophia's expert tip: Check Tasty Waves Cantina's famous Taco Tuesdays, for good vibes, good times, and of course, good tacos.
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Burger and fries for take-out dinner is a fun alternative.
Sophia's expert tip: Soak up brews with the burger and fries, it's the best and made with high=grade beef.
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 Take Out because: Stock up on homemade snacks for the rest of the day: bagels, brownies, bread and of, course, chocolate.
Sophia's expert tip: Celebrating a birthday in PV? Bread and Chocolate now makes custom cakes for special occasions, and they are beautiful!
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Chicken in Caribbean Sauce with succulent sides fit nicely in a take-out container, and taste just as good a few minutes later.
Sophia's expert tip: Try a refreshing fruit batido (smoothie) to complement an authentic Caribbean meal- the Chicken in Caribbean sauce is a favorite.
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Grab a pastry from the case or order sandwiches to-go for an excellent beach or jungle picnic lunch.
Sophia's expert tip: The best baguettes make for great picnic lunches.
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Make it an indoor date night with a pizza to-go from this top notch PV restaurant.
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.
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 Take Out because: Call ahead and order a take-out pizza, perfect for a rainy night at the hotel.
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.
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Inexpensive pizzas, sandwiches and fries make great take-sway plates.
Sophia's expert tip: Try the two for one mojitos at happy hour and chocolate cake for dessert.
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 Take Out because: Always willing to accommodate, the kitchen staff at Koki Beach will happily wrap your order up to-go.
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.
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: Sandwiches made to order with homemade bread are an easy go-to for take-out lunch.
Sophia's expert tip: Don't miss a chance to enjoy the best pi--a coladas in Costa Rica, made with fresh organic pineapples.