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There’s excellent eating in Cahuita, but the scene is ever-changing. Some places are only open in season (Dec.–May), and most accept cash only.
In Playa Negra, Bananas Restaurant (7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily), at Cabinas Algebra, is recommended for breakfasts, and at lunch and dinner serves salads, burgers, and a choice of fish, chicken, or steak with rice and beans and coconut sauce (from $5). It occasionally has a live reggae band at night.
My preferred breakfast spot in the village is 100 Percent Natural (tel. 506/2755-0010, 6:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Tues.–Sun.), a delightful, airy café that serves granola with yogurt, gallo pinto, and omelettes, plus burritos, sandwiches, and veggie plates. Mellow music and a great ambience combine to make this the breakfast spot of choice.
The renowned Miss Edith’s (tel. 506/2755-0248, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–10 p.m. Sun., $6–10), 50 meters east of the police station, is a homey place that offers aromatic Caribbean specialties such as “rundown” (a spiced stew of fish, meat, and vegetables simmered in coconut milk) and lobster with curry and coconut milk ($15). Miss Edith also offers a vegetarian menu. Don’t expect rapid service—or even a smile—but you’ll love the genuine Caribbean experience, and the coconut curries are to die for.
Otherwise, the best dining in town is the open-air Cha Cha Cha (tel. 506/2755-0476, noon–10 p.m. daily, $5–15, closed in low season), an unpretentious place where chef Bertrand Fleury serves superb “cuisine of the world” with such appetizers as tapenade ($6) and grilled calamari salad ($7.50) and such entrées as curried chicken ($10), followed by banana flambé, all artfully presently on chic oversize plates. The rustic decor is romantic by candlelight, while world music adds just the right note. Kitchen service is excruciatingly slow and, alas, smoking is permitted.
Also for romantic atmosphere, head to Cocorico (tel. 506/2755-0409, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Thurs.–Tues.) for its colorful decor and Arabian-style ceiling drapes. An Italian chef conjures gnocchi, pizzas, and crepes with homemade ice cream ($5). All dishes are less than $10.
Nearby, the lively Ristorante Corleone (tel. 506/2755-0341, noon–10 p.m. Sat.–Wed., 5–10 p.m. Fri.) competes with Italian fare such as carpaccio ($7), ravioli with spinach and ricotta ($9.50), garlic squid ($8), and two dozen types of pizza.
Mayela’s Tea Room (no tel., 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Mon.) is a small open-air deck set in a garden 50 meters from the beach where various teas are served.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition