Pura Vida: Ish Eats Costa Rican Food in Manila

If you live in Metro Manila and your social life has not flat lined in the past year, you have probably heard of Pura Vida. Located in the heart of Poblacion, Makati, the hot new reggae joint was started by Costa Rican expats who have found a new home in the Philippines.

Seeing that there’s very limited options for authentic Latin food in the Metro, The owners decided to put up a resto/bar with the intention of giving Filipinos a taste of some classic Costa Rican fare.

My friends and I decided to stop by Pura Vida after hearing that this place gets totally jam-packed during weekends. We wanted to know what the fuss was all about! However, we opted to visit on a Monday, to be sure that our group of 15 could be accommodated.

Owner Renato Robles graciously welcomed us upon our arrival. He also took some time to explain each of the Costa Rican dishes that he grew up enjoying back home.

Foodies learning all about Costa Rican food

We started off with a round of appetizers. I was happy to see some PATACONES, a dish of deep-fried plantains that were first introduced to me by a Panamanian friend. They were served with guacamole, refried beans and a pico de gallo dip. Yum!

We went even more traditional Costa Rican with the ENYUCADOS or fried cassava balls. They were filled with either cheese or ground beef and were similar to Spanish croquetas.

Patacones (Php230.00) and Enyucados (Php230.00)

The next round of appetizers came with my favorite CHICHARRONES CON YUCA. As the name suggests, this is a dish made up of deep-fried pork rinds. However, unlike the Filipino chicharon, this one had skin, layers of fat as well as the meat! Think of it as a Lapid’s Chicharon (may laman) taken to the next level! To balance the richness, the chicharrones were served with some cassava fries.

We also sampled the CHIFRIJO, a mix of rice, avocado, beans, meat, chips and pico de gallo. Basically, you grab a bunch of the most classic Latin ingredients and throw them together and viola! it’s a  Chifrijo! The flavors obviously work well together. A tried and tested flavor combination!

For fans of the local KILAWIN, Latin America calls their version CEVICHE. The basic elements are there: some raw fished cooked in lime juice. Cilantro adds a Latin flair and a splash of ginger ale gives this dish a unique flavor.

Clockwise from top: Ceviche (Php250.00), Enyucados, Patacones, Chicharrones con Yuca (Php220.00) and Chifrijo (Php250.00)

After getting our fill of appetizers, it was time for some mains. After all, that’s what appetizers are for, right? Nevermind that we’ve already eaten two late lunches and two meriendas before coming here!

It’s time for some rice! We had some CARRIBEAN CHICKEN WITH RICE AND BEANS. I was quite full but I could not help myself. The flavors were a party in my mouth!

Another interesting dish that we tried is the CASADOS or the “married man.” Renato explained that it’s a typical Costa Rican dish served at lunch or dinner. This is served with rice, plantains, beans, picadillo, salad, cheese and a choice of meats. If getting married means a regular hearty meal like this, I don’t understand why men are so afraid to get hitched!

Casados (Php350.00) and Carribean Chicken (Php350.00)

Apart from the food, we washed everything down with some potent signature cocktails. If you ever find yourself here, try out the TICO RASTA MARY, HEALTHY RASTA and the NO-ARMY.

Did I emphasize enough that this is a reggae bar? Come for the food, come for the drinks, most of all, come for the music and all-around chill out vibe.

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Pura Vida Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato