Santa Teresa is known for it’s surfing and it’s beaches. And when we say beaches, we mean, miles upon miles of sand linked by rocky headlands that you feel you could walk forever on. In fact, we walked for 3 hours heading north of Santa Teresa and we saw no sign of the beaches going away. They just kept getting wider and wider, and emptier and emptier. Wonderful. Here’s a couple of pics we took to give you an idea of what you’ll see if you stay there.

That last photo was taken near Chop It, if you walk 15 minutes down the beach and then turn left up the street you’ll reach the mini mall on the crossroads where the road heads up to the rest of the world (the first town you’ll come to if you take the bus out of here is Cobano, from there you an connect to San Jose and other points in the country). The mall is where Chop It is located.

The mall is a mini oasis in what is a very dusty, strung out town. It’s clean and airy, a marked contrast to the miles long dirt road around which the villages of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais cluster. Here’s a view of the road…

…and now here’s a view of the mall. The tables of Chop It are on the right hand side. The photo is actually taken from outside a dentists office where I had some work done – if you’re looking for good dental work at a very decent price I can recommend this place, it’s called Pacific Dental.

And here’s a couple more views of the Chop It tables and exterior.

I visited Chop It because I’d read that it was a nice environment in which to eat, and that it was run by nice people who served tasty, healthy, vegan food. And this turned out to be true! They don’t just serve vegan food though, so if you’re with a meat eater, there’s lots there for them too. Here’s a look at the menu. I enjoyed reading through it, there are some quaint plays on words (The Bees Knees, Four Play) that I recognized as being the sort of thing my family from England would say, so I wasn’t surprised when I found out that the owner, from Toronto, used to be married to an English guy.

It’s not as commonplace as you’d think to find restaurants serving organic salads in Costa Rica. The country is known to use the most pesticides of any country in the world so it’s good to try to combat that if you can by eating organic. And at Chop It not only could you eat organic, the menu shows that you can eat it with great variety. You often find mango and avocado in salads in the country, but kale, arugula and beets? Not so common at all in my experience. So, all this made me happy to see. But I wasn’t feeling in a salad-only sort of mood, I had my mind on a burger-like experience, so I asked about the vegan options. There were 3 vegan burgers to choose from, and I went for the ‘Garden of Eden’ plate, which was described as a felafal burger with roasted veg, babaganoush and humus, with an organic house salad on the side.

To start with though, I had to quench my thirst. All that beach walking had me dry as a bone. I went for a glass of water and the ‘Sea of Love’ without the honey. I was curious to see how spirulina would work with mango and blackberry, as they’re not ingredients I would ever have thought of putting together.

The mango blended lovely with the blackberry, and the spirulina wasn’t apparent, which was fine by me. I could get the nutrients but not the taste, which has never been my favourite. I’m going to try the mango and berry combo at home. I thought it was a well sized drink and a fair price. Often first-time visitors to Costa Rica expect it to be far cheaper than North America or Europe, but whilst on average it’s better value than these places it’s not the sort of cheapness you would find in, say, Egypt, or Guatemala. But paying the equivalent of $5.50 US Dollars for an organic superfood smoothie is, I think, fair, and very good value compared to what I pay back in Toronto.

And that’s not even factoring in the price you’re paying for location. Back in Toronto I’m generally either in a cramped restaurant hiding away from the cold, or I’m on a crowded patio making the most of summer. And whilst both scenarios are OK, chilling out among palm trees on a calm, cool terrace just 5 minutes walk from a stunning beach is infinitely preferable, and worth, within reason, paying a little extra for! OK, onto my main meal.

I’d expected a felafel patty but instead there were 3 falafel balls in an open bun topped with the grilled veg (eggplant, peppers and zucchini) and moistened with the babaganoush and humus. The salad was crisp and contained carrot, beet, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion and red pepper.

I’m a felafel aficionado. I once toured Egypt and Israel for a few months eating felafal in every town, almost every day. I was mad for it. In case you’re the same as me and want the down-low, this is Israeli style, chickpea based rather than fava, with the white interior suggesting the dry spices of Jerusalem not the green, abundant parsley and coriander of the Nile Valley.

It wasn’t very oily, it had just enough bite to suggest it was carefully fried, and overall I really enjoyed it. It made for a perfect late, light lunch.

To finish off, since I was still thirsty, I had the Four Play drink.

Then, satisfied, I ambled down the road to the beach to enjoy the late afternoon sun, and then the sunset.

If you’re in Santa Teresa check out Chop It, you can find their Facebook page with full directions here –