A Cruising Couple | June 25, 2015 1:00 AM ET
Delicious Local Cuisine You Can't Miss In Costa Rica
Photo of Costa Rican fruit market by Thinkstock
Costa Rica is known for many things, but its cuisine is normally not one of them. Due in large part to the surplus of foreigners and expats who now call Costa Rica home, it’s easy to enjoy pristine jungles and beautiful beaches without sacrificing burgers, pizza, sushi, and other cuisine readily available in any neighborhood of the world.
While we appreciate the variety of food in Costa Rica, there are plenty of local dishes that warrant a try during any visit to the country. Rather than grabbing a bite at the Western restaurants you can frequent when you return home from your vacation, sit down at a soda and savor some of the local flavors. You won’t be disappointed!
Photo by Lablascovegmenu via Flickr
You’ll find this typical dish throughout Central America, but no one prepares it quite like Costa Rica. Most often served at breakfast (but delicious all day long), Gallo Pinto consists of mixed rice and beans, eggs, fried plantains, tortillas, and sometimes a grilled or fried piece of meat. Locals drench the dish in Salsa Lizano, an addictively tasty sauce we now smother most meals with. This hearty breakfast will keep you satisfied until dinner rolls around, and is especially satisfying if you enjoyed too many drinks the night before.
Photo by PacificLots via Flickr
The word “casado” translates into “married,” and that’s really what this dish is all about — the marriage of rice and beans. Expect rice, beans, plantains, salad, and your choice of meat or fish. The dish is also called “comida tipica” as it is commonly eaten throughout the country. It can get a bit repetitious, but it makes for a tasty and inexpensive lunch on the go.
Photo by Danielito311 via Flickr
Given that Costa Rica is blessed with an abundant coastline, it should come as no surprise that fresh fish and ceviche are common — and delicious! Ceviche is raw fish marinated and cured in citrus juices, served with diced vegetables (often tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and garlic), and rice or chips. Enjoy it on the beach on any sunny afternoon.
A visit to Costa Rica’s Caribbean opens up a whole new world of flavors and dishes — this is where Costa Rican cuisine truly shines. Rice and beans still serve as the fundamental ingredients, but expect to find them cooked with coconut milk, curry, and ginger. Don’t miss rondon, a Jamaican seafood soup, and jerk chicken.
Photo by EverJean via Flickr
There are plenty of opportunities around Costa Rica to go on a chocolate tasting tour and learn about the cacao-making process. Chocolate has played a significant role in the history of Costa Rica, and these tours are not only informative, but also delicious! Discover the process of taking the cacao from “bean to bar,” or just hop into a shop to taste some innovative concoctions.
Photo by Julian Rotela Rosow via Flickr
Costa Rican coffee is fantastic, and unlike some other Latin American countries that export all of their quality beans, many restaurants in Costa Rica will serve a local brew. Just like with the chocolate, there are plenty of coffee tours to take you through the bean-to-cup process.
Tropical Fruits And Juices
Costa Rica is overflowing with unique and exotic fruits that you’ve likely never seen in a supermarket back home. A few to keep an eye out for include anona (a sweet heart-shaped fruit), guanabana (sometimes called soursop), and zapote (salmon colored and delicious). Enjoy the fruits straight from a local market, or sip on a cool “refresco” or natural juice.
The primary beers of choice are Imperial and Pilsner. They’re best enjoyed on a sandy beach or alongside one of Costa Rica’s many cascading waterfalls. While Costa Rica may not be known for its culinary masterpieces, there are plenty of dishes and beverages to keep your taste buds excited.
Have you been to Costa Rica before? What local dishes did you try?
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