Sink your teeth into a sandwich from one of my six favorite spots in Puerto Viejo and I bet you won’t be disappointed.
1. Pan Pay Bakery: Jamon y queso (Ham & Cheese) on a fresh baked baguette. I like to eat half right away and save the other half for later, but these sandwiches come split down the middle, so they’re ideal for sharing, too. Simple, stacked with a clean combination of ingredients and a dash of Spanish flavor, and for just under $4, this may indeed be the best sandwich deal in town. (If you’re in the mood to make your own sandwich, pick up a fresh baguette at Pan Pay for just $1, and head to the Old Harbor Market for all the fixings.)
2. Bread & Chocolate: Avocado and cheese or grilled cheese sandwich. Truly, all the sandwiches at this sweet little cafe are stellar, if not a bit on the sloppy side. Best eaten on the spot, you can choose your choice of homemade bread and savory sides to go with your yummy sandwich, like potato salad, a surprising standout. Save room for some signature chocolate cake for dessert.
3. Pati Shack: Pati. Okay so it’s not technically a sandwich, in fact it’s not a sandwich at all, but rather the local version of an empanada. The crust is less flaky and more crunchy and cumbly, and the filling is spiced meat with a tasty flavor I’ve not experienced elsewhere and have grown to love more than I should. If the little no-name covered shack/stand along the main road across from the pharmacy is open, try one there. One pati is only $1 (500 colones), can be served hot upon request, and comes in a little brown paper bag that travels well. Pati makes a perfect sandwich substitute if you just can’t wait, are on a budget, or on the run.
4. Lizard King Mexican Restaurant: Chicken BLT and cheeseburger. Though it’s the burritos I usually succumb to at the King, the seasonal sandwich lunch specials are not to be missed. Rarely advertised, it’s worth inquiring about the sandwich of the day if you have a big appetite and don’t mind a massive mouthful. Made to satisfy some serious hunger, the sandwiches here are as good as it gets, especially if you’re a meat eater.
5. Puerto Viejo Bakery: Cuban Sandwich. Just next door to the Lizard King, the Puerto Viejo Bakery has become a hot spot for more than coffee and pastry with an extensive lunch menu, including one of my new favorite indulgences, the Cuban Sandwich. Served hot and pressed on real Cuban bread, it’s a splurge for $9 since it’s not terribly big and could easily leave one wanting just one more bite, but it’s a real treat, especially on rainy days.
6. Peace & Love: The Monkey. Formerly located conveniently near the bus station and the center of town, Peace & Love is an Italian owned and operated bakery now on the premises of the Totem Hotel, just south of Puerto Viejo, directly across from Cocles Beach. Worth the trip for a sit down lunch or ideal for packing into a picnic, all the sandwiches at Peace & Love are made with Italian TLC, and you can taste it! I like The Monkey, thinly sliced ham with mozzarella and all the fixings, served on fresh baked focaccia. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to pick up some delicious pastries for dessert, like a delicate fruit tart or a rich cannoli.
Photos: S. LaMonica