Puerto Viejo  is blessed with a cosmopolitan range of eateries, even gourmet cuisine.
For breakfast, I head to Bread and Chocolate (tel. 506/2750-0723, 6:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Wed.–Sat., 6:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sun.) for killer cinnamon-oatmeal pancakes ($4), crispy sautéed potatoes with jerk barbecue sauce, grilled sandwiches, and more.
Competing in style and substance, Café Rico (tel. 506/2750-0510, 6 a.m.–2 p.m. Fri.–Wed.) is a laid-back place serving on a palm-fringed veranda; Roger, the English owner, serves huevos rancheros ($4), omelettes ($4), granola with yogurt and fruit ($3.50), pancakes, and sandwiches. I recommend the Annarosa special: fried potatoes with cheddar cheese, fried eggs, and bacon ($4).
Alternatively, consider Pan Pay Panadería (tel. 506/2750-0081, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), which serves omelettes and scramble breakfasts (from $2.50) and has fruit salads ($2) and fruit-filled pastries, croissants, breads, tortillas, and coffees.
The Caribbean Coffee & Chocolate Factory (tel. 506/2750-0850, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Sat.–Sun.) is a cool spot to enjoy home-baked muffins, macadamia cookies, multigrain breads, and veggie dishes, plus organic coffee and chocolate drinks. It has free WiFi.
The squeaky-clean Puerto Viejo Bakery (tel. 506/2750-0511, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. daily) sells delicious fresh-baked baguettes, french rolls, croissants, and chocolate cake.
For a light lunch, Sel et Sucre Crêperie & Fruit Bar (tel. 506/2750-0636, noon–9:30 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) serves delicious crepes.
The clean, air-conditioned Fruit & Veggie Land (no tel., 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Sun.) sells fresh salads plus fruit juices and batidos.
Justifiably popular by night, Chile Rojo (tel. 506/2750-0025, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. daily), upstairs in the Centro Comercial Puerto Viejo, packs in diners who come to savor Asian-inspired dishes. I recommend the veggie samosa with tamarind chutney ($3.50), Thai fish-and-coconut soup ($6), and the delicious green curry with coconut milk and veggies ($9). There is an all-you-can-eat sushi and Asian buffet on Monday nights ($12).
Restaurante Tamara (tel. 506/2750-0148, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Thurs.–Tues., $5–10) has a shaded patio done up in Rastafarian colors. The menu runs to burgers and típico dishes such as fried fish with patacones (plantain), plus great batidos (milk shakes).
For genuine Caribbean fare, head to Jammin’ (tel. 506/8826-4332, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), a small Rasta-styled soda with tree-trunk stools. I recommend the jerk chicken ($5) and roast fish ($3.50). It has tremendous rootsy Jamaican atmosphere.
Another atmospheric local charmer, Veronica’s Place (tel. 506/2750-0263, 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Fri., 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat.), above Color Caribe on the main drag, offers an open-air perch in a colorful Caribbean structure. Veronica serves pancakes, omelettes, and gallo pinto breakfast, plus a large vegetarian menu. Veronica also offers cooking classes (and rents charming and simple rooms for $20 pp).
For an airy oceanfront setting head to the offbeat Spanish-run Salsa Brava (tel. 506/2750-0241, noon–11 p.m. Tues.–Sun., $4–15), with rainbow-hued furniture. The menu includes tuna ceviche salad, Caesar salad with chicken teriyaki, and grilled garlic fish, plus sangria and ice cream. Portions are huge and the fare is surprisingly good.
Nearby, the beachfront Restaurante Parquecito (tel. 506/2750-0748, noon–midnight daily, $5–10) offers a fabulous ambience, with pendulous surfboards. It’s good for cheap casados and specializes in simple seafood.
Café Viejo (tel. 506/2750-0817, 6–10 p.m. daily), the snazziest place in town, serves good Italian fare, including pizzas (from $3), pastas ($5), and a large dessert menu.
At night, a delightful Jamaican lady named Bou Bou sells jerk chicken from her streetside stand outside Johnny’s Place.
“Miss Sam” bakes tarts and bread and offers meals at Soda Miss Sam’s.
For ice creams, sundaes, and shakes, head to Lechería Las Lapas (no tel., 10 a.m.–10 p.m. daily).
There’s a feria agricola (farmers market) every Saturday morning.