Puerto Viejo's environs offer a plethora of interesting restaurants. Homegrown ethnic diversity leads to at least 3 native cuisines. Caribbean food can be spicy and often includes the seductive flavors of coconut, chiles, black pepper, ginger, etc. Fish and various tropical roots, as well as breadfruit, round out the traditional fare. Patti are spicy meat pies sold on the street. Johnny cakes are buns ideal for sandwiches or snacks. Ginger cakes, budin, and pan bon (like a fruit cake) are widely available throughout Caribbean Costa Rica.

Many small restaurants offer one basic meal with a couple of variations. Rice and beans are served two ways. Typical of the Talamanca coast is a rice and beans mix with coconut milk called “rice ’n’ beans”. Often instead of french fries, lunch plates will feature patacones which are slices of plaintain (cooking bananas) fried to perfection.

Usually, the choice is between a whole fried fish or a Jamaican style jerked chicken served with the rice and beans and perhaps a salad. Some restaurants might have lobster or other choices. Plates can be ordered without any meat or fish. These meals start at under $6.

Typical Costa Rican fare is also available and combines some universal latin dishes with Indian inspired favorites like tamales, beans and tortillas, etc. A casado is a plate featuring a variety of pretty much everything ready in the kitchen with the usual staples of rice and beans.

To vary from the common rice and beans meals, you will want to try some of the newer Continental, Asian, or experimental restaurants which combine traditional cuisines with tropical ingredients, or even throw all the rules out to create dishes you have probably never imagined could be prepared. Healthful and vegetarian meals are the specialty of some restaurants. There is a vibrant live music scene supported by some of the restaurants. Both local and visiting musicians are inspired to play in at least six of the areas’ restaurants.

Within the South Caribbean are at least 40 restaurants. They range from one table family style “sodas” that don't even have a sign, to more modern establishments featuring tables set around a swimming pool; from family-style menus to gourmet settings, where the chef comes out to discuss the meal between courses. Because of our mild climate almost all dining rooms are open air.