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Santa Teresa's Soda


After a day of getting your butt-kicked by Santa Teresa’s epic waves, you’ll need to refuel. And there’s no better place than the Soda at Mama’s house. Talk to the Ticos and they’ll agree: Mama makes the best fish sandwiches around.  And she’s also got the only vegetarian yucca burgers in the land.

In Costa Rica, Sodas are actually roadside cafes. Most are an extension of private homes that just happen to serve food to visitors. It’s rare that you’ll find a printed menu, set price list, or an outdoor sign to indicate its existence. Such is the case at Mama’s. The Soda at Mama’s is located opposite the ocean. Her house sits on the only street that runs through the entire town. It’s built into a small hill just a few hundred meters from Santa Teresa’s popular surf spots—El Carmen and Playa Hermosa. Six or so plastic tables sit on a concrete porch that extends from a small home—that’s the indication that you’ve made it to Mama’s.

Take a seat and greet Mama. Then ask her what she has that day. (Note: It’s rare that Mama actually leaves her kitchen, so you’ve got to politely yell through her open kitchen door). Her answers generally range from fresh-from-the-sea ceviche, melt-in-your-mouth fresh fish sandwiches, hand-cut spiced yucca patties or simple spaghetti. As with everything in Costa Rica, Mama’s specialties are served with pinto, a spicy fry-up of beans, rice and lard. Yes, even the pasta.

Order a few cervezas and observe Tico life while you wait for your delicious dinner. Often Mama will have a daughter or neighbor helping her in the kitchen and serving as a waitress. You can listen to them tick away in Spanish and all the while you’ll hear Mama dicing, slicing, and frying your food. In the next room, there’s always a television blaring. Since it also opens onto the Soda’s “dining room,” you’ll catch dad, some brothers and passing primos moving in and out of the house. Everyone says “hola” and they’ve all got a smile.

As with everything in Costa Rica, things may move slowly at Mama’s, but since you feel as if you’re part of the family, you won’t mind the wait. That, and the food’s not only the best, it’s also made with some serious homemade lovin.’

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