The perfect trip to Costa Rica should include exploring nature, having fun with family and friends, relaxing right by paradisiacal views and, of course, enjoying the delicious food that the country offers. The Ticos nutrition is mainly composed of rice, vegetables, meat, beans and tropical fruits.
Here are 10 dishes you must try in Costa Rica:
Typical Costa Rican breakfast
Costa Ricans like to start the day with energy so their breakfast is hearty:
- Gallo Pinto: a mixture of rice and beans seasoned with a secret ingredient: English Sauce branded "Salsa Lizano" (made of spices). Many mix Gallo Pinto with sour cream.
Eggs: mostly scrambled or fried, but you can order it they way you like.
- Homemade Tortilla: made of corn and accompanied with fresh cheese.
- Fruits: Costa Rica is well known for its variety of tropical fruits like mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple and bananas off course, which are exported and known worldwide.
Sweet Plantain: fried ripe plantain drizzled with honey.
And fresh orange juice and the delicious Costa Rican coffee to drench your thirst.
Every hotel in Costa Rica will offer Gallo Pinto for breakfast, along with other more international dishes. Costa Rica Hotels such as Monteverde Lodge and Tabacon Grand Spa offer a large variety of Costa Rican foods at every meal.
Typical Costa Rican Lunch
Olla de carne:
It’s the typical soup of the country and it’s made of meat and different kinds of vegetables from the area: carrot, potato, cassava, chayote, ñampi, corn, squash, tiquizque and banana.
Arroz con pollo:
- Made with shredded chicken, rice and spices that usually comes with:
Salad (cabbage most of the time)
- Refried beans: it’s a kind of dip made of beans. It’s a common side dish added to typical meals.
- Fries or chips
Most eaten Costa Rican lunch meal, it includes:
A protein: meat or chicken with sauce, steak or fish. If you’re a vegetarian you can ask for picadillo with no meat instead.
Picadillo: it’s a very typical dish of Costa Rica, which mixes several vegetables together and sometimes includes meat. Some types are: arracache, potato, carrot and beef with green beans, sweet corn, among others.
Casados are eaten along with natural juices made of tropical fruits such as mango, tamarind, cas, blackberry, strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe, among others.
By mid-afternoon, between 3 and 5pm, Costa Ricans generally drink coffee with a little bite that can be sweet or savory.
It’s like a pancake made of sweet corn and accompanied by sour cream.
If you plan to visit Costa Rica in December you must try this typical dish made during Christmas Season. It’s prepared with corn dough, stuffed with beef or pork and vegetables and wrapped in plantain leafs.
You can have them with coffee or with Eggnog: an alcoholic, creamy and sweet drink made of rum.
Bocas at night
Small portions of food commonly consumed at bars usually with local beer (Imperial, Pilsen and Bavaria) or a shot of national liquor: Cacique, made of sugar cane.
It’s a combination of pork rinds, rice, beans and chimichurri; accompanied by plantain chips.
This type of chili is known as Red Bell Pepper and Costa Ricans cook it and the stuff it with ground beef and spices.
Even the most refined hotels in Costa Rica that are in our list of Best Hotels in Costa Rica, serve Chifrijo as a kind of tapa. The chifrijo served at Andaz Papagayo is our favorite.
Don’t forget to leave room for dessert, you'll love the ones offered in Costa Rica.
Arroz con leche: creamy pudding made of rice and sweeteneded cinnamon and raisins.
- Tres leches: made with three milks, evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream, covered with whipped cream.
Prestiños: fried flour tortilla with Costa Rican honey
- Cajetas: it’s a kind of a nougat, delicious and simple. There are several types to choose from: coconut, milk, peanut, etc.
- Empanadas de chiverre: bread dough stuffed with chiverre, traditional Costa Rican vegetable similar to squash
Churchill: contains grated ice, syrup, fresh milk, milk powder and ice cream, very refreshing!
The province of Limon, located at our Caribbean Coast, has its own typical Costa Rican Foods.
- Rondon: seafood stew combined with coconut milk and a bit of chili, yum ... delicious!
- Rice n Beans: rice and beans cooked with coconut milk, accompanied by Caribbean seasoned chicken, patacones (fried plantains) and salad.
- It’s common to drink Agua de Sapo with your meals: a refreshing drink made of ginger, lemon and honey.
Pati: pastry filled with meat and a spicy chili dressing.
Wherever you go in Costa Rica you will find many of the Costa Rican Foods described on this list. Want to know more about where to find each type of food? Take a look at some the Best Places to Stay in Costa Rica or download one of our E-book on How to Choose Things to do in Costa Rica.