Hola from Costa Rica. As part of my How to Live in Costa Rica as a Vegan article I would like to present; How to Eat Vegan in Samara, Costa Rica.
In February 2017 we took a mini vacation from our rental in southern Costa Rica and headed north, to Samara. What a charming little beach town Samara is! All restaurants are walking distance to the beach and there is an all vegan restaurant that is awesome! Woo hoo!
Being vegan I try to plan ahead and find places to eat when we are on the road. Generally when I say I am vegan (Vegano in Spanish) I get blank stares, so preparation goes a long way. On many of our road trips through Costa Rica we have eaten rice and beans for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Not so in Samara! I found one amazing place and tried several others during our peaceful beach filled vacation. If you want to know how to eat vegan in Samara, Costa Rica this is the post for you.
After driving for 3 1/2 hrs towards Samara, we came to the infamous Crocodile Bridge that crosses the Rio Tarcoles river. Once parked, we took a very narrow walk way along the heavy traffic bridge (scary) towards the middle where everyone is standing. Looking over the side of the bridge you see dozens of enormous crocodiles lounging in the water and along the sides of the muddy river.
I have since read that these crocodiles range between 10 and 20 feet long, yikes! The kids really enjoyed looking at these amazing creatures. If you happen along this bridge it is worth the quick stop to see and snap a picture.
We arrived in Samara around 4pm and after dropping our stuff off at the condo we rented we went to eat! I could not wait until daylight to eat at the place I was most anticipating. Want to know how to eat vegan in Samara, Costa Rica? Go to Luv Burger! Luv Burger is an organic 100% plant based restaurant. We ended up eating at Luv Burger twice during our 4 night stay in Samara. I even stopped in for a 3rd time to buy some cookies after an unsatisfying meal at another restaurant.
I don’t think you could go wrong with pretty much anything on the menu but here is what we loved the most for our 2 visits. Night one we all ordered the combo meals which include a drink, fries (or salad) and a burger. The kids split the Classic burger and ordered the camote fries and a lemonade. Aaron ordered the Tropical burger with grilled pineapple and hickory smoked coconut bacon along with the yucca fries and a lemonade. I ordered the Onion Melt with caramelized onions, a side salad and the kombucha. Honestly Aaron & I could have split an order because these meals were huge!
The second visit I ordered the Luv Burger Tacos and the family got the same burgers they ordered the night before. We of course had to try the desserts and settled on the cashew cheesecake and caramel squares. My husband really loved the cheesecake but let me just say, the caramel squares are O-M-G AMAZING! I could have eaten 2 of the caramel squares and ordered one to go! The cookies I ordered after the unsatisfying meal at another restaurant were delicious. Honestly, I wish we would have eaten all meals here so I could have tried everything. Our son wants to move to Samara just so we can eat out more often.
Other Restaurants and Stores with Vegan Options
We wanted to try other restaurants in Samara to get a good feel for what vegan options they have to offer. Here is a list of a few places we tried and what we thought of them.
This all vegetarian restaurant offers many vegan and raw options. We only ate here once and we ordered something the owner said she was not a fan of so I can’t complain. We ordered dishes with the imitation soy meat in them (the owner said she does not like the imitation meat). I ordered a coconut curry with imitation chicken and the kids ordered the spaghetti with imitation meat. The kids liked their food with the TVP in it.
I have since learned that in Costa Rica the imitation meat most places use is TVP. TVP is not the yummiest if you are not skilled at cooking it. I should have listened to her the owner but after the burgers at Luv Burger I was wanting more. The flavors behind the TVP were good and my husband got a vegetarian dish that he said was really good.
The atmosphere, the house cat that wanders around, and the really charming owner make this place worth checking out. I would eat there again and try other dishes.
Coco’s Mexican Restaurant
This restaurant is a traditional Mexican restaurant but after looking over the menu and talking to the staff I decided I would give it a try. They said they cook the beans in water and not lard or animal broth. They do not use chicken broth in the rice and the tortillas are not made with lard.
We started with an order of chips, salsa and guacamole that was really good. They do not give you much guacamole but the chips were amazing! I ordered the Caribbean Salad without the chicken. The staff told me the vinaigrette dressing did not have dairy or eggs in it. The kids split a huge vegetarian burrito.
I had to send the burrito back because they put cheese and sour cream in it even though I told them no diary. I had to ask for beans on my salad to replace the chicken because it was very bland. Once the corrections were made it all tasted good. I still felt a bit uneasy about the pure veganness of our meals so I would not go back.
Samara Organics is a little store that offers many imported vegan products along with other natural products. If you want to cook your own food this store along with some basics from Pali will do the trick. Samara Organics also hosts the local farmer’s market so be sure to check out their website.
*Be sure to check out the vegan food we ate at the Jaco restaurant on the drive back at the bottom of this article.
Fun in the Sun
Although I love eating, we of course did other things on this Samara vacation. The condo we stayed at had a pool and we decided to take a dip but the resident iguana was letting us know we were being watched!
The beaches around Samara are stunning and not crowded at all. We went to Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo to play in the sand and swim in the sea. Both of these beaches have calm waters that are good for swimming and won’t knock you off your feet.
One More Vegan Restaurant
On the way home we stopped in Jaco for lunch. I had researched vegan options in Jaco and found a hotel that had amazing food.
This little hotel has a whole separate vegan menu!! I always get so excited when I have more than one option to choose from and having a whole menu is even more thrilling
I ordered the Pesto Pasta with Vegetables and the kids had the Pad Thai with Tofu. OMG these were both awesome!