Top 3 Places to Eat in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
About a four hours bus ride south east of Costa Rica’s capital San José lays the relaxed reggae town and culinary paradise called Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. If you are a food-loving traveler this village is a must-visit! Puerto Viejo has an interesting mix of cultures including the Afro Caribbean heritage, expats from Europe and United States and of course Tico influences in its blend. To me, this cultural vibe is what defines the town and part of what makes it special. To be sure to truly experience the culture of Puerto Viejo I recommend eating your way around town. Below I have listed my top three places to eat and drink, enjoy!
1. The Farmers’ market
The local farmers’ market is held Saturday mornings in the center of the little town. Head towards Casa de la Cultura and you’ll see it! This is the place to find the food you can’t get in the regular super market. Beside cheap organic fruits and vegetables, there is locally produced cheese (including feta!) and milk, tofu, chocolate and coconut oil to mention some goodies. Tasty and different kinds of cheese are in general hard to find in Costa Rica, since Ticos like their cheese simple and without flavor. This could be hard on a cheese loving European visitor but the solution is to visit the farmers’ markets.
Personally, I like to make my visits to the organic market in Puerto Viejo a half-day event. This friendly environment is where you mingle with people from all areas around Puerto, buy veggies for the week and maybe get a vegetarian empanada for lunch. There are vendors selling yummy and healthy cakes, juices and pies to please your appetite as you are walking around. In addition, you can buy environment friendly and handmade soap, clothes and more. One time I even found organic tahini!
I am sure you think you have had chocolate before. Maybe even good, dark, pure chocolate. Visit CariBean and no other chocolate will ever satisfy you again (you have been warned!). At OM Yoga café in Cocles you can buy healthy snacks, breakfast and lunch. Their selection of cakes is varied and baked buy different local cake magicians. But there is more. CariBean at Om Yoga is the place I visit when I need a boost of energy: a chocolate espresso. Yes, you heard me! Thick, dark, soft cacao in a shot gives you a refill with antioxidants and healthy energy. The owners practice sustainable ecological farming on their cacao farm, located behind the house, where they make the chocolate by hand. Be sure not to miss the chocolate tour where you learn about producing, try surprising flavors and enjoy Puerto Viejo’s best view.
3. Bread and Chocolate
This breakfast and lunch place is probably the most famous restaurant in Puerto Viejo. Before I had ever even been on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, my friends living on the other side of the country told me I had to visit Bread and Chocolate. They were right of course. Craving French coffee instead of that brewed stuff? This is the place to go. Choose from a bunch of creative and chocolaty cakes with innovative names to go with that. Or my personal favorite: veggie sandwich. They bake their own bread that is rich in flavor, not sweet and to some extent whole grained. There is a bunch of sandwiches to choose among and they are all served with fruit, green salad or potatoes. Since Bread and Chocolate is mentioned in Lonely Planet, it tends to crowd up quickly during high season so keep that in mind when you are planning your visit.