Pura Vida: A Taste of Costa Rica and Reggae Culture in Manila – Z Hostel
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Pura Vida: A Taste of Costa Rica and Reggae Culture in Manila

Transport yourself to a place where it feels like summer forever and where living the good life is the only rule to live by. Welcome to Pura Vida Manila, a Costa Rican Reggae lounge that is the newest addition to the concept cafes and restaurants in Poblacion, Makati.

The very moment you open Pura Vida’s door, it feels like you’ve just left the city and instantly gone to the beach. The old house in this once quiet neighborhood, much of it retained and just slightly refurbished, feels just right the perfect home for what Pura Vida stands for. The wooden stairs and walls are splashed with the red, green, and yellow paint and plastered with everything Bob Marley; big wooden beach chairs in the balcony easily feel like lazy afternoons on the beach; and rope swings in the bar with a boat-shaped shelf make this lounge a sweet escape from city life.

Everything inside the lounge spells c-h-i-l-l. After all, Pura Vida means “Pure Life” and is a popular expression in Costa Rica already engrained in their day-to-day life. They greet each other “Pura Vida” and ask someone he or she is with “Pura Vida?” to which the other answers with “Pura Vida!” “It is an expression we use for people, places, things, feelings we like or consider good, or whenever we want to wish someone well,” shares Renato Robles, founder and owner of Pura Vida who hails from Costa Rica himself.

If reggae music is the soul of Pura Vida, Costa Rican food is at the heart of this lounge. The dishes are all inspired by Renato’s mom’s cooking. So that’s Costa Rican staples and favorites straight from their dinner tables making their way to Manileño’s tummies. Costa Rican food is a good balance of fullness and freshness, staple ingredients include rice and beans, plantains, meat, avocado, and fresh herbs.

Patacones is a great start, traditional Costa Rican snack of deep-fried plaintains with three appetizing sides of refried beans, cilantro sauce, and guacamole.

Pura Vida’s bestseller is the Chifrijo and it could definitely be a Filipino palate favorite: a bowl of rice, beans, chicharon-style pork, avocado, and tortilla chips all topped with “pico de gallo”, tomato salad with lime juice.

Loading up for a night of drinking? Casados is perfect for you. It is a Costa Rican main served with a plateful of rice, beans, plantains, picadillo, white cheese and any of the following options: Beef steak, Chicken in white cheese sauce, Chicken Fajitas, Beef Fajitas, Fajitas Mixas (beef & chicken), or Carne and Salsa.

Ready for the next part? It’s time to sip into the good life with Pura Vida’s refreshing cocktails! Specially crafted by Lucas Floyd, bartender who Renato flew all the way from Costa Rica, these signature drinks will definitely take you to a dreamy beach holiday. Prices can be a bit steep but you get your money’s worth — all cocktails are made with premium alcohol bases. Get a spicy start with Healthy Rasta, fresh watermelon and lime juice, gin, tonic water with fresh peppermint, basil, and rosemary.

Sip into sunny goodness with Summer Melted, rum-based drink with fresh passion fruit juice, ginger, soda water, with lemon grass syrup and lime juice.

Sweeten up your night with Guaro Sour, vodka with fresh lime juice, grenadine, and soda water. For a true tropical getaway, get Natural Mystic, a refreshing blend of vodka, fresh pineapple juice with ginger syrup, basil syrup, and soda water.

Imagine sitting on one of those wooden beach chairs in the balcony with a fresh cocktail in hand and Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam is playing in the background after a hard day at work. What a sweet interlude, right? And the feeling in Pura Vida is just unlike any other: it is relaxed yet fun, has a diverse crowd but with a sense of community, and is inspired by an unfamiliar culture yet still feels very much like home.

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