The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is less travelled than most of the rest of the country. It’s hotter and wetter than the interior with emerald green forests lining the sandy beaches. One-third of the population of this region descends from Jamaicans and Barbadians. The traditional rice and beans (Gallo Pinto) is a little more spicy with a hint of coconut. Reggae and calypso beats can be heard everywhere and you can often catch a hint of marijuana smoke.
Puerto Viejo (photos) can be found far south on the coast. It has a bit of a reputation as a party town and it’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of dining choices with a surprising variety of cuisines for a town this size: Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, Indian, Italian, USA (burgers, fries and pizza) and, of course, the Costa Rican Soda. The Soda is a generic name for a casual eatery that serves primarily Casados. This is the national dish that can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It generally consists of rice (duh), beans, salad, some type of plantain and either chicken, pork, beef or fish. The work “casado” refers to marriage in Spanish. The story we got was that before you get married you can only afford to eat rice and beans but once you get married you can add other items to the dish. Maybe they have that backwards?