The ULTIMATE Vegan Guide to Costa Rica
Posted in Lifestyle on Tuesday July 7, 2014, 6:24 p.m.
So, for anyone who has been following my blog, you all know that I spent 5 months in Costa Rica, more specifically near the town of Dominical. While this post is mainly going to be about that town, I want to talk about what a vegan can get food wise in general first.
Typical Tico food is usually very meat centric, but never fear, there are many vegan options to be devoured! First and foremost is comida tipica, translated as typical food which is what is served in most Sodas (dinners). This usually consists of gallo pinto (rice, beans and vegetables cooked in spices), fried plantain and tortillas with a choice of protein. All you have to do to ask to get a vegan version is to replace the protein with sautéed veggies.
This is going to be available ANYWHERE you go.
Another great option that is available pretty much anywhere is smoothies, you just have to ask for the water based beverages instead of the milk based ones (agua instead of leche). Try the guanabana aka soursop!
People are extremely nice and will accommodate whatever you need as long as you can communicate it to them. Use vegetariano estricto to describe your diet, then elaborate that "no como leche, queso, carne, pollo, pescado o huevos" which translates into saying you do not eat milk, cheese, meat, chicken, fish or eggs. Learning these words are key and make your whole trip that much easier.
Now to Dominical!
Surf Shack is a hostel/restaurant directly on the beach, serving up breakfast and lunch. I included pics of their menu at the time (May 2014) so you can get an idea of what they serve. They aren't exclusively vegetarian but the options are clearly marked on the menu. Their full breakfast usually comes with eggs, but we ordered it with avocado instead. Most of their menu items include gluten for anyone who has issue with that.
Further up the beach is a sweet little stand where you can get some cold fresh coconut to sip on.
On the main road is a little boutique yoga studio that also has a juice bar.
Also on the main road is a small lunch place which I has wraps, sandwiches, salads, juice and smoothie. Most of the veggie wraps have cheese that can be omitted to be vegan.
Rum bar is situated at the crossroads of the first entrance into demoniacal and the main road. they have a sign claiming they serve vegan and vegetarian food. When we went in they had a few different options for Chinese foods dishes, one being specifically vegan. It was a greasy plate of Americanized Chinese food, but it hit the spot at the time.
There is a small organic cafe that serves vegan pancakes and superfood smoothies. They also have really good organic fresh-pressed OJ. Their menu seems to change up alot and the hours change from high to low season as far as I could tell.
Last one is my MOST favorite of them all. An almost exclusively vegetarian restaurant, Maracatu was our go to place for food in Dominical. We sampled everything vegan on the menu and it was always a good quality meal that was through fully enjoyed. I'm including pictures of the menu that we took in May 2014. Pictured below in order is: the gallo pinto, the burrito, coconut curry and pad thai.
There are a few more places to hit up for more local options, including several sodas where you can get cheap gallo pinto and other dishes. Also, theres a small cafe coming into Dominical that makes smoothies and other drinks. It's a sort of European-like cafe.
The grocery stores have a wide array of both local and imported goods to fill you up as well.
If you can get to it, the farmer's market on thursday's and Friday's in San Isidro is amazing. A huge variety of fruit and vegetables, plus local artisan stalls with vegan and organic foods. They aren't cheap, but if you are looking for items like nooch or raw cashews they are the people to check out. The variety of exotic and tropical fruit everywhere is enough to keep you sustained throughout a stay in Costa Rica.
Travelling vegan is as easy as you make it. This guide does make it easier as it's all info and places that I discovered during my 5 month stay there. There are also farmer's markets in Tinamaste on Tuesdays and Uvita on Saturday's. I wouldn't suggest buying fruit in Dominical itself, because it's overly expensive and not always great quality. There is a great fruit stand in Baru called Fruiteria Baru that is easily accessible by bus or even bike that has great prices and quality.
The wide variety of options available there make it a GREAT vegan travelling destination.
There are also a whole bunch of vegan retreats, fincas and hotels around for those who want to be extra taken care of!