It’s almost noon and the heat is unbearable at 98° in Liberia city. A white and blue house built in 1938 promises an oasis.
We are in Calle Real, where, nine months ago, cafe Posada Real opened.
Its owners, Adriana Venegas and her husband Marco Ocampo, chose this house with a colored tile floor to open what they consider the first restaurant in Guanacaste free of gluten and other allergens like soy and milk.
They combined the idea with their second most important project: a production center for gluten-free food that they sell in hotels and companies with specialized menus in the province.
Upon entering, the aroma of coffee mixes with the smell of garlic and basil being cooked in the kitchen. The acoustic music, soft light, fans and air conditioning help us slow down.
Adriana tells us that, six years ago, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, an allergy to wheat, oats, rye and other types of grains with gluten.
She has lived in Liberia for three years and discovered that there was nowhere she could find the food she needed. She was constantly afraid that she would be served food with gluten without knowing and get sick.
“That’s how we came up with our slogan: everyone wants and has the right to enjoy good food, whether they have allergies or not,” she says.
For lunch, we ordered a cup of rice with pesto and sauteed chicken with french fries and basil leaves that add a subtle flavor to the plate. The aroma is exquisite and the chicken is juicy. The dish is gluten-free, but it doesn’t appear as such on the menu. And that’s the idea, to eat “different food” without detecting it.
“If we can make a product for everyone, we make it in order to be inclusive and we respect whether it’s for personal belief, health, or just because they don’t want it,” she says. She’s also a professional pharmacist.
The menu is varied and offers options for breakfast and lunch, like the one we ate for ¢4,500 ($7.50) that included a drink, main dish and coffee. They are flexible, too. They prepare the bowl to order with falafel as a vegetarian option.
Coffee time is when the “the place stands out the most,” according to Adriana. The coffee is 100 percent Costa Rican and they have alliances with brands like Tamarindo Coffee Roasters. The staff makes it at the table and they give you the option of what coffee to chose and which of five methods you want it prepared (Vandola, V60, Chemex, french press and slow dripper).
If you prefer tea, they have gourmet options served with an hourglass so that you know the perfect time to drink it. I recommend green tea. It has a light flavor and it helps digestion.
You can combine any drink with desserts like chilean cake or cheesecake with passion fruit topping.
They hope to open the terrace soon in order to have outdoor activities and open up the space. The restaurant has a room for events and a play area for kids.