Traditional Foods of Costa Rica

costa rica


With exotic beaches, a tropical climate and a vibrant culture, Costa Rica is a dream holiday destination for a beach holiday or romantic break. It is also a fantastic choice for foodies, with a distinctive cuisine that utilizes the ingredients available locally and is said by some Costa Ricans to be the secret of their vitality and longevity! In this blog, we take a look at some of the traditional breakfast and main meal dishes of the Central American country, as well as drinks and desserts.


gallo pinto


Breakfast Dishes

Many Costa Ricans start their day with a dish known as gallo pinto (spotted rooster). Despite the name, it does not feature chicken but is made from the staple ingredients of rice and beans mixed together with onions and red pepper. Gallo pinto is often served alongside scrambled eggs, sour cream and slices of fried plantain.




Main Meals & Snacks

Costa Ricans tend to eat their main meal at lunch-time, with a combination plate called Casado being a firm favourite. Casado means married man, and includes a combination of (you guessed it!) rice and beans – in this dish they are served separately and not mixed together as in Gallo Pinto – along with beef, pork, chicken or fish, salad, fried plantain and omelette. Other popular main meals include the soups Olla de Carne (made from squash, potatoes and cubes of meat) and Sopa de Mondongo (for the more adventurous eater – it is made from cow-belly). For snacks, Bocas are rather like Spain’s famous tapas – small bites of delectable treats often served alongside beer. Black bean dip or chimmichurri with tortilla chips, and ceviche, a marinaded fish dish of Peruvian origins are favourites with the locals.


tropical fruit


Drinks & Desserts

Popular drinks in Costa Rica include coffee, which is usually served weaker and sweeter than visitors will be used to drinking at home, and hot tea with a slice of lemon. Fruit based drinks which incorporate tropical mango, pineapple, papaya and other more unusual ingredients are widely available and are served freshly juiced and on ice, or mixed with milk. One particularly refreshing beverage is Pipa , which is literally a green coconut sliced open with a machete and drunk through a straw. Desserts include Tarta de Tres Leches which has a sweet flavour and gooey consistency, and flan, which is a rich custard. Fruit also often shows up on the dessert menu – either served on its own, or sliced up into a fruit salad.


Do the traditional foods of Costa Rica appeal to your tastes? Which dishes would you most likely try or have tried?



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