When you think of Costa Rica, what comes to mind first? It’s natural beauty? Botanical gardens? National Parks? Hot springs?? If so, have you ever thought of its food?? Well, Costa Rica’s vast nature, wildlife, and beaches have sparked a surge in ecotourism. Many travelers wrongly believe Costa Rica is just another Latin American country with burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.

However, that’s not true. Meals on a Costa Rica vacation might be just as much of an adventure as the activities you’ve booked. Here are seven wonderful Costa Rican cuisines you need to try during your visit to Costa Rica.

1. Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto, Comidas Tipicas, Costa Rica
Gallo Pinto, Comidas Tipicas, Costa Rica

Gallo pinto is a popular rice-and-beans meal that is often regarded as Costa Rica’s national cuisine. The food has origins in both Costa Rican and Nicaraguan culture. The dish’s main ingredients are combined and matched with other spices, such as red bell peppers, cilantro, onions, and Salsa Lizano. The word “Gallo Pinto” literally means “spotted rooster,” due to its coloring scheme (combining rice and beans) which is how the meal received its name. It’s often served for breakfast, sometimes with scrambled or fried eggs. However, you can eat and enjoy the meal any time of the day.

2. Casado

Casado Costarricense

The Casado is Costa Rican cuisine’s most traditional lunchtime dish. It is more of a combo plate than a single recipe, combining rice, beans, salad, plantains, and meat. As the term Casado means “marriage,” it might be argued that a Casado is a marriage of the meals presented together. Fresh fruit juice is usually included in a Casado. In most areas, a bottle of “Chilero Sauce” is also on the table. In short, if Gallo pinto is perfect for breakfast, Casado is perfect for lunch. The Casado can also be served with French fries, cheese tortillas, eggs, corn, and picadillo.

3. Tamal

Costa Rica Tamales

The Costa Rican tamale is quite similar to the Mexican tamale, yet it is distinct. Costa Ricans love garlic, but they aren’t big on other spices. The wrapping also differs: Mexican tamales are wrapped in corn husks, while Costa Rican ones are covered in banana leaves. Tamales can be eaten on their own, but often served with beans for breakfast. The tamal is a steamed corn-based dough stuffed with savory or sweet meat, cheese, fruit, and/or vegetables. You can take it either at breakfast, or any other time of the day.

4. Olla de Carne

Costarican Olla de Carne

Costa Rica is a foodie’s paradise for fresh ingredients, which are used in the Olla De Carne recipe. Cassava, carrots, corn, plantains, and taro root are among the ingredients. This stew is full of rich tastes thanks to the addition of various veggies. Although you’re unlikely to have room for it, Olla De Carne is frequently served with rice and beans. The hearty beef stew is a year-round weekend staple, served both at home and in neighborhood soda shops.

5. Sopa Negra

Sopa Negra – Costa Rica

Sopa Negra is a delicious, traditional Costa Rican alternative for vegetarians or soup lovers who avoid meat-eating. The addition of onions, peppers, and cilantro adds freshness and flavor to this dish, which is anchored on the ubiquitous black bean. Black beans, onion, bell peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, hard or soft boiled egg are among the key ingredients. This soup is a terrific vegetarian alternative. Some variations can accommodate other dietary needs, such as gluten-free. The addition of Tabasco sauce gives it a good spicy kick. The soup is served in a traditional Costa Rican bowl.

6. Chifrijo

Costa Rica, Chifrijo

If you are looking for a famous Costa Rican snack, then Chifrijo is the one for you. Chifrijo is a Costa Rican savory layer cake made out of black beans, rice, chicharrones, Pico De Gallo, or tomatoes. The name is a combination of fried pork rinds and beans and is served with tortilla chips or corn tortillas. It can be found at Costa Rican restaurants as well as at local events and farmer’s markets. The dish is a wonderful combination of ingredients served with fried tortillas, bread, or tortillas.

8. Arroz con Leche

Arroz con Leche from Costa Rica

Arroz con leche is one of the best Costa Rican delicacies. It’s a dessert created with thick and creamy rice pudding and a combination of cinnamon, raisins, and condensed milk. It’s a traditional Spanish dish, but history claims the dish came from the Moors who invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century. Enjoy the best kind of Arroz with Leche in Liberia, Guanacaste, where local restaurants serve it. The recipe includes sugar, salt, lemon zest, and cinnamon sticks.

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