12 Best Restaurants in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Tortuguero and the Caribbean Coast

El Refugio Grill

$$$ Fodor's choice

This tiny rancho-style restaurant in the middle of a forest clearing is one of Costa Rica's top Argentine restaurants. The menu varies throughout the year and might consist of beef in chimichurri sauce, spinach crepes, curried shrimp, mussels in white wine, or grilled tuna. For lunch, options are more casual with burgers and sandwiches. All meals here kick off with homemade chips and guacamole, a house specialty. The place feels remote and, indeed, you’re a long way from most lodgings when you’re out here in Punta Uva. Take a taxi to and from if you’re without your own wheels.

Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
2759–9007
Known For
  • intimate and secluded forest setting
  • hearty Argentine menu
  • homemade guacamole and chips
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed., Reservations essential

La Pecora Nera

$$$$ Fodor's choice

For nearly 30 years, the owner of this Italian restaurant has gone to great lengths to assure ingredients are authentic, including importing olive oil and wine from Italy. You’ll be surprised at all the additional light Tuscan entrées, appetizers, and desserts the chef-owner has concocted that day. Start with bruschetta and carpaccio, and move on to fillet with Gorgonzola sauce or homemade pasta. Be prepared for a long, leisurely dining experience with attentive service, often from the owner himself, with all the flair of an opera tenor. It's worth the wait, especially when you sink your teeth into the tiramisu; this is one of the country's top Italian restaurants.

3 km (2 miles) southeast of town at Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
2750–0490
Known For
  • innovative Italian menu
  • exuberant owner
  • leisurely dining experience
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No lunch

Stashus con Fusion

$$ Fodor's choice

This restaurant epitomizes Puerto Viejo: lively, organic, popular, but confident enough not to seek trendiness. Ordering is by sauces: Thai peanut, Indonesian-Caribbean curry, Mexican chipotle, Jamaican jerk-style, or Malaysian-guayaba curry, which is served on vegetables, chicken, shrimp, or fish (marlin or tuna). You can't go wrong with the Caribbean pad Thai or Indian butter chicken. Live music gets going later on Saturday evening, although the place closes at 10.

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Bread & Chocolate

$$

The takeaway line for brownies—made with their own processed cocoa—forms at the gate before this place opens at 6:30 am. Stick around, though, for a hearty breakfast of cinnamon-oatmeal pancakes, French toast, or creamy scrambled eggs, washed down with a cup of French-press coffee.

Café Viejo

$$$

This is the hot place to see and be seen on Puerto Viejo's main drag. The owners learned to cook at the knee of their Italian grandmother back in Rimini, and have concocted a menu, several pages long, of pizzas and handmade pastas. The hand-rolled strozzapreti with shrimp and zucchini is a top seller. Recorded reggae and mambo music plays in the background.

Avda. 71, corner of C. 215, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
2750–0817
Known For
  • traditional Italian cooking
  • impressive pizza variety
  • place to view Puerto Viejo's passing parade
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. No lunch

Caribeans

$

At first glance, this small café could use a spelling lesson, but since Caribeans deals in coffee and chocolate, the play on words is apt. Treat yourself to a latte, mocha, or coconut cappuccino, all made from organic, fair-trade coffee from the Turrialba region in the far-eastern Central Valley, and roasted here. For something more substantial, opt for a smoothie or pastry. 

2 km (1 mile) southeast of town at Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
2750–0504
Known For
  • organic, fair-trade coffee
  • locally roasted beans
  • coconut cappuccino
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

Cheeky Monkey

$$
Flatbread pizza is the name of the game at this dining spot, which you'll see as you head out of town toward Playa Cocles. The folks here come up with some innovative combinations, such as date and gorgonzola or camote (a Central American sweet potato) with jalapeño and chimichurri sauce, in addition to more standard pizzas. In the morning, there's a variety of breakfast panini and eggs. A good selection of cocktails and Cheeky Monkey’s homemade ice cream round out the offerings.

Como en Mi Casa ArtCafe

$

Everything is made on-site at this small second-floor café. Start off the day with an order of vegan pancakes and fruit smoothie, or ease into lunch with veggie burritos and a tomato, oregano, and olive oil bruschetta. You'll find some gluten-free options on the menu, too. Bopping tunes make for an upbeat vibe, and there is a nice balcony with Wi-Fi for dining outdoors.

De Gustibus Bakery

$

Follow your nose to this bakery where breads, cakes, and pastries lure customers from the point of "just a bite" to breakfast-on-repeat---it’s hard to resist the chocolate-filled cream puffs, cinnamon rolls, French toast, and pancakes. Swing by later in the day for a vegan burger or burrito. If you plan to grab a coffee and go, avoid the glass display case tempting chocolate croissants dusted in powdered sugar.

Dread Nut Coffee

$
An easy-to-miss Caribbean-style clapboard house near the bus stop makes a great place to fortify yourself for a day of sightseeing. The industrious staff here start the day with omelets and freshly baked banana bread, bagels,and pastries, and lunch gives way to a variety of sandwiches—you choose from ingredients to construct your own.
50 m east of bus stop, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
8995–6103
Known For
  • homemade ice cream
  • cool tropical vibe
  • organic coffee
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Sel & Sucre

$
The sel (salt) in this restaurant's name reflects the ham, chicken, spinach, goat cheese, and roasted almonds you'll find as ingredients in a huge selection of crepes. Sucre (sugar) shows up in the sweet versions of crepes, with the Grand Marnier a special standout. Light side salads, waffles, and cheese fondue round out the menu. Top it all off with a gourmet coffee or fruit smoothie.
120 m south of bus stop, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
2750–0636
Known For
  • cheese fondue
  • gourmet coffee
  • fruit smoothies
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Selvin's

$$

Blanca, the owner of this longtime standby at Punta Uva, cooks up a menu of rondón, rice and beans, lobster, shrimp, and chicken with sweet mole sauce. The cool breezes of the seaside setting could not be more pleasant. Selvin's keeps limited, sometimes irregular hours, especially in the off-season, so always call ahead and head out here if you're fortunate enough to be in town when it's open.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
2750–0664
Known For
  • hearty Caribbean cooking
  • friendly service
  • irregular hours
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Thurs.