Off The Beaten Path: Where to Eat in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Enjoy a taste of the Caribbean in this tiny beach town.

One of the best parts of traveling abroad is tasting a foreign cuisine. You may have a Caribbean restaurant near you, especially if you live in a city, but nothing beats sitting down to a freshly prepared meal while watching the waves come in at a tiny Costa Rican soda (what they call a restaurant serving traditional cuisine).

Guetto Girl soda in Costa Rica

Guetto Girl soda in Costa Rica

Local restaurant in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

The dishes in Puerto Viejo are simple; referred to as  a casado (which translates to married) a typical plate will include rice, beans, salad, plantains and a protein. As you eat your way through this beachside town you'll understand why they refer to these dishes as they do; separately they are all very simple ingredients, but when you marry them together on a single plate the spices, fresh vegetables and cooked-to- order proteins truly shine.

Shrimp and plantain dish in Costa Rica

Shrimp and plantain dish in Costa Rica

Shrimp and plantain dish in Costa Rica

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

Caribbean chicken with rice.

Caribbean chicken with rice.

Caribbean chicken, a classic Costa Rican dish.

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

Roughly translating to "the stop" in English, this beachside restaurant is directly across from the only bus stop in Puerto Viejo. After the six hour journey from San Jose you're bound to need some food and La Parada is a great place to start your foodie journey. Serving up simple casado dishes you can grab a ubiquitous plate of rice, beans, salad, plantains and Caribbean chicken for what comes out to be $4 U.S. dollars.

Tacos, nachos, and salsa in Costa Rica

Tacos, nachos, and salsa in Costa Rica

Tasty Waves Cantina

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

Half bar, half restaurant, all fun. At some point during your trip you're bound to hear someone talking about the night they had at Tasty Waves. In addition to great margaritas, they also have some of the best tacos in Puerto Viejo. Pressing all their own tortillas in house it's a meal that can't be missed, especially on "taco Tuesdays" when they run a two-for-one special. Perhaps the biggest draw of this restaurant is all the themed nights they have, from ladies night to trivia, to the raucous karaoke night; come for the food, stay for the party!

While the dishes may be more like something you could find here in the States, there is no denying just how delicious the food is at this quaint little hideaway. Known for their freshly baked desserts and homemade chocolates this cafe also boasts one of the best breakfasts in town. Waffles, French toast, egg sandwiches, and fresh fruit salads make Bread and Chocolate the perfect place to start your day. Be prepared, there may be a little wait during the breakfast rush, but just grab a coffee (made with locally harvested beans) and enjoy the island breeze.

Fresh juice on the beach.

Fresh juice on the beach.

Fresh juice in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

Named after the world famous wave that comes rolling into the beach right in front of this establishment, Salsa Brava is the place to go to enjoy a cold beverage and watch the tide come in with your feet buried in the sand. From banana smoothies to their homemade ginger drinks, the flavors of the Caribbean can be found in a glass at Salsa Brava.

Ceviche and plantain chips.

Ceviche and plantain chips.

Ceviche in Costa Rica

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

With the ocean literally right across the street, Mopri is the place to go for all things seafood. Octopus, mackerel, shrimp, mussels, and red snapper are all on the menu here and pulled right out of the sea earlier in the day. If you happen to be out and about in the early morning you can actually see the fisherman coming in with their fresh catches to sell to the restaurant. Bonus; they actually have a seafood counter inside the restaurant. If you happen to be staying at a hostel or motel that has a kitchen you can pick up some fresh fish and cook your own feast!

Watermelon smoothie in Costa Rica

Watermelon smoothie in Costa Rica

Fresh watermelon smoothie in Costa Rica

Photo by: Jeremy Pawlowski

Jeremy Pawlowski

Perhaps my favorite place in Puerto Viejo for authentic Costa Rican cuisine is this colorful restaurant. In true pura vida style there is no menu here. After taking a seat the owner will come out and let you know what they have available based on what came in fresh that morning. Somedays they'll have the classic Caribbean chicken and other days she'll offer whole grilled red snapper. Even the smoothies they offer change based on what types of fruit is available that morning.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Costa Rica's Puerto Viejo Is a Great Off-the-Beaten-Path Pick

Less crowds and more fun on the Caribbean coast.

Intrepid Italy: Go Off-the-Beaten-Path in Puglia

Hidden wonders await in the heel of the boot.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Museums

Discover the museums that may not be the top picks in your guidebook.

São Paulo Off the Beaten Path

Explore Sao Paulo off the beaten path.

US National Parks: 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Escape the crowds and add extra excitement to an already unforgettable experience at these 10 US National Park destinations.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.