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Eat Your Greens at These 10 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Costa Rica



 A tiny isthmus with a tropical climate, Costa Rica is ideal for growing a diverse selection of vegetables, tubers, and exotic fruits all year long, so it's little wonder that chefs from around the world have started flocking here to open restaurants, many of which are vegetarian. While beans, rice and plantains are staples of a traditional Costa Rican diet, it's the vegetarian places that offer them in the most creative variations such as at  Vishnus, in Jose, and at La Botanica Organica and the quaint Veronica's Place on Caribbean coast, each of which serve strictly organic vegetarian fare, with raw, vegan and gluten-free specialties, too. Many restaurants in Costa Rica have ample options for non-meat eaters, and even the roadside sodas can satisfy with a casado sin carne, a typical lunch platter that includes several salads and vegetarian sides, served without the meat that's typically included. The best vegetarian restaurants in Costa Rica reflect cuisines from around the globe. Middle Eastern platters at Lubnan are favorites for vegetarians, and Chimera, nestled in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, boasts a bevy of totally vegetarian appetizers and entrees. Without much effort, vegetarians will be happy as clams dining out in Costa Rica.


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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


Whether you're in the mood for fluffy pancakes made with real organic chocolate 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 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.




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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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.


Samurai Sushi
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Samurai Sushi is perhaps the best sushi to be found in San Jose, if not all of Costa Rica, and they have excellent Teppan Yaki, too. After months of searching, it was a pleasure to stumble upon this place in Escaz�, not where it would not necessarily be expected. Served in true Japanese style, each dish is expertly prepared by a staff of well-qualified chefs who whip each roll and piece of tempura into an art form before presenting it to you. Hot and cold sake are available, and the menu is diverse enough to satisfy even the finickiest of sushi eaters.


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Regarded as a good old stand by and a new discovery for vegetarians in Costa Rica, Vishnu's is one of a several franchises by the same name, all with reliably good options for meatless eaters centered in and around the capital city of San Jose. Soups, sandwiches, juices and a variety of appealing options are on the menu' there's something for the whole family here. Vishnu's is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's a casual, unpretentious place that draws a mixed crowd to it's bright green and white decorated outposts. Try a "plato del dia" special that include a salad, entree, drink and dessert.




Chile Rojo is perhaps Puerto Viejo de Limon's most popular restaurant with locals and tourists, but that doesn't mean it's always crowded. Contrarily, even on the busiest of nights, it's not uncommon to score a great table; occupying an open-air, second level space in the center of town, every seat at Chile Rojo offers an excellent view. Billing itself as "Thai Fusion Cuisine and Sushi Bar," Chile Rojo is also a live music venue for local acts, and a champion of the "farm to fork" movement. Fresh caught fish is a focal point here, though there are often guest stars, such as the locally raised lamb that was featured in a curry. Mondays there is an all-you-can-eat buffet, and Fridays and Saturdays there is live music.




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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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 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. Tin-Jo also offers yoga and meditation classes throughout the week, and hosts Miercoles Candelas every Wednesday evening, when the lights are turned off in favor of candles. Televisions are nowhere to be seen and cells phones are turned off in the Bamboo Room, a sanctuary annex of Tin-Jo.




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.


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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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