This entry for the Top 10 Best Eateries in PV: Dinner Edition was originally slated for release way back in 2018 but, with the unexpected closing of the restaurant occupying our Top Spot, all motivation to publish this article was lost.
It’s not that there isn’t a decent restaurant to fill out the list (we have over 150 of them offering cuisine from around the world). Nor is there a rule that a “Best Of” list must comprise of 10 items… This particular list simply didn’t feel complete without this one, special dining spot.
So, without further anticipation, I’m excited to announce that the title-holder has returned from a short retirement and is readier than ever to serve up some of the finest chow in Costa Rica. And we’re finally ready to publish this list!
Disclaimer: This list includes my personal favorites, as well as the favorites of friends & fellow travelers. I have not tried all 150+ restaurants in the area (yet), so my recommendations are limited to my experiences!
TOP 10 EATERIES IN PUERTO VIEJO:
(in no particular order – except #1)
10. Lidia’s Place
Let’s kick it off with a Caribbean staple with a long history in Puerto Viejo. Recently renovated, there’s no better time to grab a table at Lidia’s and experience the real taste of the Caribbean.
Tucked right in the back of town, Lidia’s is close and convenient, but also slightly removed from the thick of the foot and vehicle traffic in the centre. For me, this is a big plus. The other big plus is the Caribbean fare. Traditional coconut beans and rice, fried patacones, and traditional homemade sauces… Delicious!
9. Bikini Restaurant & Sushi Bar
With everything from pasta to sushi to curry to local fair, Bikini is a real crowd-pleaser, sure to have something on the menu for every preference.
Located in the centre of town, Bikini gets top marks for convenience, but they also score highly for superb service, tasty drinks, very fair prices, and a capable kitchen. Dining with a group of 20? Bikini has you sorted. Regularly hosting large groups, it’s the perfect restaurant to have your big event, be it a birthday party or just a gathering of all of the friends you’ve made on your trip to Puerto Viejo.
Just be sure to book your large group in advance!
8. La Pecora Nera
Celebrating something special? While at the higher end of the price scale, La Pecora Nera is in a league of its own, consistently delivering the complete, fine-dining experience. One of very, very few establishments of its kind currently on the coast.
As I hinted, this the perfect place to celebrate something, or someone, special. Located in Cocles, well-removed from town and tucked slightly into the jungle, it is a lovely, modern open-concept restaurant. Multi-tiered, tastefully decorated, and even featuring a walk-in wine cooler!
The service here is 5-star and I’ve never met a soul who has complained of an unsatisfying meal. La Pecora Nera only uses the finest ingredients – even if they have to be imported from far away lands – and it truly shows in their cuisine. Make a reservation and see for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
7. Monli Restaurante y Bar
FRESH FISH! We catch ‘em, you buy ‘em! If you get the film reference, you will earn my respect and admiration.
While you’re likely to find at least one seafood option on most menus on the coast, you want someplace that specializes in seafood – and understands the importance of utilizing only the freshest catch, as well as knowledgeable preparation.
So, here’s where I should probably make a confession: I don’t eat fish. Or meat… BUT I do understand that some travelers hit up little coastal towns specifically to sample the local seafood. So, I’ve canvassed some local friends, and compiled the opinions of randoms after years of small-talk, and Monli is – apparently – the best place to get your fish on.
I hear the yellowfin tuna sashimi is spectacular – but you can’t hold me to it! Check it out for yourself if seafood is your thing.
6. Stashus Con Fusion
By the time you read this blog, Stashus will be gone! From its current location… Because Stash is taking his flavour-packed menu a few steps down the road to a brand-new spot at Lotus Garden Hotel.
This is a personal favorite. I don’t go out a lot but when I do, Stashus Con Fusion is always a regular in my rotation. The everyday menu is a creative culinary compilation of dishes comprised of ingredients and inspirations from around the world. Include the weekly spread of dinner and drink specials and your taste buds will never get bored.
I suggest arriving hungry if you’re going to make it from appetizer to dessert – and you simply must make it to dessert. The portions are generous and it’s easy to fill up before you get to Stash’s famously decadent coconut cake – but that’s a seriously big mistake.
Pro-Tip: Just to be safe, start the meal with cake. C’mon, you’re an adult – you can eat your dessert whenever TF you want to…
5. Madre Tierra
A satisfying array of comfort foods as well as some of the most delightful, colorful tropical cocktails in town. The specials menu is always a treat and I almost never skip the stuffed patacones for an appetizer. De-licious!
You have the option of dining on the ground level or upstairs in this charming, near-beachfront restaurant. Personally, I like to sit downstairs and watch how the two ladies in the teeny, tiny kitchen manage to prepare food for so many patrons in the (usually) full house.
Arrive before dark and find a good spot upstairs to catch the sunset with your fancy drink! Check their hours of operation here!
4. Pura Gula
It took me a long time to try this place. Not because it looks undesirable; quite the contrary – it’s a welcoming little restaurant right on the main road, preparing some of the tastiest, freshest dishes in Playa Chiquita. The thing that gave me reservations is that Pura Gula advertises as “slow food”.
If you dine frequently in the Caribbean, you know that food service is already notoriously slow. Interpreted literally, a restaurant that specifically advertises “slow food” does not sound like the right choice for a customer with an appetite.
But then I searched “slow food” online and learned that the term is essentially coined to mean the opposite of fast food. In other words, the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients, properly prepared.
So, I tried it out. A bunch of times. And it’s great. If you’re in Playa Chiquita, you should try it, too!
3. Sol del Caribe
Arguably the best Caribbean chicken in town. Or so I’ve heard. And seen…
I once observed a man, so apparently moved by the delectableness of the jerk sauce on his chicken, that he near shed a silent, bittersweet tear in realization that he had likely just reached the pinnacle of culinary experience for his lifetime.
Instead of crying, however, the man finished licking his plate clean, marched right into the kitchen (probably a health code violation), and struggled through his language barrier to express his immense satisfaction directly to the chef, herself. She seemed pleased, but not particularly surprised.
Great prices, phenomenal food, friendly owners and staff, lovely setting – always a great experience. Try Sol del Caribe for yourself the next time you’re in Cocles.
2. Restaurante Amimodo
It’s a beautiful thing when delicious, fresh food combines with the perfect location. Take your meal in the open-air dining area or on the sand in a beachfront palapa – either way, you’ll be able to hear the crashing waves.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to be on the beach in the evening (or early morning), don’t forget your bug spray. The sand fleas are evil, relentless little monsters, hellbent on ruining your day
Back to Amimodo – The handmade gnocchi is outstanding and, depending on your pizza preference, this might be the best pie joint in town – although, I know many who would dispute such an assertion**.
If you enjoy great food served with a friendly smile right beside the sea, Amimodo is well-worth a visit.
**Be sure to standby for a future investigative piece exploring the actual best pizza of Puerto Viejo, where I’ll personally eat as many pizzas as is necessary to uncover the truth and settle the debate.
1. Pita Bonita
I’ll start with the only downside to this place: Distance.
Located in stunning Punta Uva, you can expect about a 15-minute drive from the town centre. That being said, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys dining in a peaceful, garden-situated restaurant outside the hustle and bustle of Puerto Viejo, I suppose this place has no downside.
Here’s what’s exceptional about it: Every item on the menu is effing delectable. I would especially recommend ordering absolutely anything. Maybe whet your appetite with the “Table for 2” (even if you’re a party of 4) and go from there.
Sure, I’ve never actually tried the chicken or lamb shawarma, personally; however, I have collected heaps of data from carnivores over the years and the consensus is this: the shawarma is LEGIT.
But let’s talk about the falafel, hummus, and pita, though. … … … I guess there’s nothing to say, really. Not because I can’t find the words to describe how good this shit is but because the words don’t even exist.
The owner is as charismatic as he is eccentric, and is a true master of traditional Middle Eastern flavours. Check out the newly renovated, fully refreshed Pita Bonita in Punta Uva for what could very well be the best meal you have in the Caribbean!
0. Soda el Primo
If you’re coming to or from Puerto Viejo and your tummy is a-rumbling, you’ll find Primo right off the highway, near the midway point between San Jose and Puerto Viejo, in Siquirres.
It’s quick, convenient, inexpensive, tasty, and always seems to be open. The menu is extensive and the pinto is off the hook. They also sell a variety of snacks and beverages for the road. Stop by if you’re in the neighbourhood.