A Central American country lying between 8 to 12 degrees above the Equator experiences 2 major seasons – summer, which is mostly dry, and winter, which is wet and rainy. Due to its immense diversity in terms of flora and fauna, this county has become quite a popular travel destination. The beaches and volcanoes are a cherry on the top for the tourists, but there is always some room for a variety of tasty food and dessert.
15 Local Dishes of Costa Rica’s Must try
1. Gallo Pinto
A dish you can’t skip here, Gallo Pinto which typically means “spotted rooster,” ironically does not include meat. But if one intends to make this dish with a non-veg twist, chicken or pork can be added. It is a mix of rice and black beans cooked together with vegetables one being onion and numerous spices. A dry dish is an outcome that is often served with eggs.
Again a rice and beans dish but this one has some kind of meat for sure (chicken, pork, beef or fish). Two more things that accompany it are salad and plantains (members of the banana family but with more starch). The rice and beans are not cooked together unlike Gallo Pinto.
3. Arroz con pollo
Who knew the basic chicken and rice dish could taste so delicious? Both rice and chicken breasts are cooked separately first with vegetables like bell pepper, carrot, celery stalk and onion. When the chicken is done it is shredded to be added with rice. Rice is cooked in achiote to give it a mild spicy taste. Salsa Lizano is a product by Unilever in Costa Rica. The hard work definitely pays off in the very first bite.
Usually thinly, though sometimes thickly pressed, crispy disks of plantains. Plantains are cut into pieces that are an inch or less thick. They are fried, pressed into thin round disks and then again fried. It is served with chimichurri (a green chutney kind of paste), mango pico de gallo (a kind of dip made with mangoes), pico de Gallo (Mexican dip or sauce made from tomatoes) or Guacamole (an avocado-based dip).
Originating from Peru, this cold dish is made of raw seafood, mainly fish or shrimp. Dolphin, octopus, shellfish etc. might also be used. Vegetables like tomato, onion, cucumber etc are used. The main ingredient here is lemon which is used to cook the food by breaking the protein in the meat. More often than not it is served with corn chips and is tastier than it sounds.
From local or farmers markets to restaurants or bars, this dish can be found everywhere in Costa Rica. A combination of 2 words is what gives it this name. Chicharrones means fried pork and frijoles means beans. This dish has layers of rice, beans (which are not cooked together), fried pork, some avocados and pico de gallo. It is served with corn chips or a tortilla. The distinctive taste of each layer is what makes this dish tasty.
7. Olla de carne
A dual identity dish you can say. Olla de carne is a beef stew dish that is also considered a soup dish. This dish also uses a lot of vegetables like carrot, chayote squash etc. One main ingredient is corn. The finished dish is a healthy blend of beef, vegetables and spices.
It doesn’t matter what they are made of, we all love pancakes. This Costa Rica style pancake uses corn with flour, sugar, milk and egg. All mixed together and cooked like normal pancakes. Eat it with your coffee and voila! you have a full stomach to kick start your day.
9. Yuca frita/ fried yuca/ yuca fries
A simple, tasty, kind of french fries dish which is made from Yuca root. The only ingredient here is the yuca root which is boiled and then fried. It is comparatively sweeter than the normally eaten potato fries.
10. Ensalada de Caracolitos
A shell pasta and tuna dish that can be served either as the main dish or as a side dish. Finely chopped vegetables like tomato, bell pepper and onion are mixed well with pasta and tuna in mayo. This salad dish is just perfect for a healthy and full breakfast, lunch or even evening snack.
11. Agua Dulce
A sweet, simple and tasty drink from Costa Rica is made from boiling unrefined sugarcane. Usually taken during breakfast.
The holiday season means tamale! It is cooked with a filling of various vegetables and meat like chicken, pork or beef and lots of love. This dish does not only combine various flavours but also brings together a family. Masa, a corn dough is made and is spread over a banana leaf. On top of that goes the meat and veggies. You can leave the meat if you are a vegetarian. It is then wrapped, tied and steamed. The dish is made and enjoyed with the family for a more delightful taste.
13. Sopa Negra
This dish’s origin can be Costa Rica or Greece as the internet is confused with itself. But surely it is one good dish that you can not miss in Costa Rica. Sopa Negra (Spanish) translates to Black Soup in English. Rightly named so as it is made from black beans (Costa Ricans really do love black beans).
14. Crema de Pejibaye
This dish is made from peach palm or Pejibaye, a fruit native to Costa Rica. A thick and tasty and healthy soup that is loved by everyone.
15. Tres leches
Let’s end this list on a sweet note! Tres leches mean “three milk”. Named so because it is soaked in three kinds of milk – whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, making it soft and spongy. The cake is first baked and cooled down at room temperature. The mixture of the 3 kinds of milk is poured over and left to soak. Lastly, the frosting is made from heavy cream. No matter how many of these milk cakes you make, they will never be enough.