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Costa Rican Food

Costa Rican Food

In Costa Rica, we don’t judge if you’re a foodie or a glutton. We have autochthonous dishes for all the meal times and for all tastes. 


This article will guide you with brief descriptions for various of our most famous typical foods but we still encourage you to taste any other option you might find while being in Costa Rica because if we are being honest, delicious is our main ingredient. 



  • Gallo Pinto: A mix of mostly rice and beans with minced spices. Depending on the place, it can be sided with meat, sausages, bread, tortilla, ripe plantain, eggs, cheese and others. 
  • Tamales: Normally in December, around the holidays, ticos make tamales and even if it is a meal planned for breakfasts, you can see a tico eating this at any time of the day. It is made with corn dough specially prepared with adobo and spices and sided by rice, assorted vegetables, beef, pork or chicken, egg, olives and others depending on who’s preparing them. They are wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled in firewood. 



  • A casado is a very nutritious plate made of rice, beans, salad, picadillos, a portion of protein, ripe plantain or patacones and so on. Some people like it with spaghetti as well.You can find this dish in cheap or expensive restaurants. 
  • Another meal Costa Rica has based on rice and beans is the Chifrijo. The main part of this is pork rinds and it goes really well with pico de gallo (a salad made with tomato, lemon, onion and cilantro) and chips.
  • Gallitos are the name we give when we are eating something in a kind of folded tortilla. It’s like a taco but the tortilla is soft. You can eat sausages, different kinds of meats, picadillos, cheese or whatever else you might think. 
  • Olla de carne is a soup with 2 or 3 kinds of beef meat cuts and has a lot of vegetables such as potato, carrot, yucca, squash, pumpkin, plantain and other autochthonous tubers.
  • The most popular ceviche is the Peruvian, however, Costa Rica has its own recipe. This is fish chopped into squares that is softened in lemon and soda until cooked and it also has natural spices.
  • Sopa negra is based on beans and bean broth. You can add minced onion and cilantro and hard-boiled egg.
  • Palmito comes from palms, we use it to put in salads and also in a recipe with rice, spices and cream cheese, topped with mozzarella cheese and grated in the oven. 



  • Coffee is and always will be tico´s favorite drink. An average Costa Rican is accustomed to drinking coffee more than once a day. 
  • Chia seeds are becoming popular but in Costa Rica we already mixed them with fruit drinks. 
  • Pipa fría is translated to cold coconut. You need to get at least one if you are in Costa Rica because they are amazing and absolutely refreshing.



  • Tres leches is moisturized with evaporated milk, condensed milk and liquid cream cake topped with meringue. Is very sweet but if you are lactose intolerant, it is better that you don’t try this!
  • A cajeta is like a nougat but it is softer. They can be made with condensed milk, milk powder or coconut and can have seeds, caramel, fruits and others as part of them. It is perfect for a little snack.
  • Arroz con leche is a people pleaser. Is a rice pudding made by boiling rice with milk instead of water. Condensed milk, cinnamon powder, lemon or raisins can be added.
  • If you go to any of Costa Rica’s beaches, you can find the best Churchills. They are made with shaved ice, fruit syrups, condensed milk, milk powder and ice cream on top. They are great for hot weather.
  • From our indigenous people, we inherited the recipe for Chiverre (a vegetable that can be turned into honey) empanadas. They are easy to get in the holy week. 
  • Chorreadas are sweet cheese tortillas made of corn dough. They are sided with sour cream.
  • Mazamorra is a pudding that is also made with corn. It can be white or purple, depending on what kind of corn is used. It is an indigenous recipe. 


You can also find a lot of fruits and vegetables that are cultivated here and exported all around the globe at a better price. 


If you go to restaurants and bars, you might find plates called Surtidos (big platters with an assortment of small portions of the meals offered) or Bocas (small portions of a specific item offered in the menu). We highly recommend these presentations because they give you the opportunity to taste a lot of flavors.


Karen Ebanks

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