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La Sodita: Migrant cuisine disguised as local

Photo by Eka Mora

At the San Juanillo crossroads, on the left, there is a small house with a little sign that reads “La Sodita.” Upon entering I thought I was going to eat good, but not this good. La Sodita is a bistro disguised as a traditional soda.

I sat down wanting a glass of water, but the waitress animatedly told me about the cold hibiscus and turmeric house tea, and she encouraged me to try it. A wise choice. The chalkboard listed the specials and I saw that they had falafel, which generally is what I go for, but I decided to go with the vegan Mussaka because I wanted to try something new. A wise choice.

The Mussaka came with four wonderful salads: first, celery and dill; next, lettuce, tomato, and carrot; then another with beets and parsley; the last one had carrots with vinegar and parsley.

For dessert I ordered a cheesecake, which was exactly what I wanted. It boasted a refreshingly creamy but not overly sweet topping, and a perfectly sweet and crunchy cookie crust. But the sorbets stole the show: frozen, sweet, creamy marmalade.

Shulli smiles and shows her passion for cooking. She sits at my table and asks me if I am enjoying my meal, explains how everything was made, and passionately tells me about her processes: that she doesn’t like recipes, that she tried to study French cuisine in Australia but never finished because “it’s too structured.”

She also tells me that when she came to Costa Rica thirteen years ago she had the idea to open a bistro but that she didn’t want to show off nor drive away the people of San Juanillo. Her method is to cook using local ingredients. Her food is local, organic, and ayurvedic. Her priority is for her clients to leave satisfied, and her purpose in life is that people be nourished by each of her dishes.

She and her husband, Hen Azenkot, left Israel and traveled in 50 countries over ten years. At the end of the trip, they decided to stay in San Juanillo, raise a family, and feed people. Shulli has fulfilled her goal of feeding others on the most beautiful beach she’s ever seen. This is, without a doubt, much more than a “soda.” Lesson learned: don’t judge a book by it’s cover, nor a soda by its facade.

Telephone: 8888-9525

Address: 20 meters from the crossroads at the entrance to San Juanillo, on the left.

The good:

-They cook with fresh, organic local ingredients

-They are open weekends for dinner

-The selection of healthy desserts

The bad:

-Closed Tuesdays.

-Credit cards not accepted.

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