Foods You Must Try in Costa Rica

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Costa Rica | 1 comment

Where does your mind wander when someone mentions Costa Rica? Maybe to the variety of landscapes and microclimates that can be enjoyed on the same day? Or perhaps the cultural diversity of its people?

Well, let me direct your thoughts towards Costa Rican cuisine! It is truly unique, as it incorporates several basic elements of Latin American flavor and also adds a healthy quality to its meals with the inclusion of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. One thing is certain:  Costa Rica’s incomparable gastronomy has something to please every demanding palate. Here are a few of their most traditional and sought after dishes:


Plato tipico by Emilylee
Plato tipico by Emilylee

This is the most popular dish in Costa Rica and it consists of rice, beans, red pepper, onions, fried plantains, cabbage with tomato and carrot salad, and of course, a selection of meat, chicken, fish, pork or beef with grilled onions.

The meat of your choice is either grilled or sautéed, but never fried. Sometimes, the dish will include fries or additional vegetables depending on your individual preferences.

Gallo Pinto

Breakfast of champions by Laura Chung
Breakfast of champions by Laura Chung

Gallo Pinto is the typical breakfast of Costa Rica. Truly the “breakfast of champions,” it consists of rice and beans mixed together, eggs (fried or scrambled), minced meat, fried plantains, and tortillas.
A popular way to enjoy this dish in Costa Rica is to pour Lizano sauce on top of the gallo pinto. The sauce is a Costa Rican condiment that was created in 1920 by the Lizano Company. It has a greenish-brown color, a thin, smooth texture and is slightly sweet and acidic with the slightest hint of spices. This hearty dish is a great way to start your day and gather your strength for sightseeing and such.

Plantain Empanadas

Not-so-plain plantain by Victor Kwashie
Not-so-plain plantain by Victor Kwashie

This meal is typically served in the city of Cortez. To make it, green plantains are cooked in boiling water with salt until the texture becomes smooth. Then they are mashed with a fork while they are still hot and an egg is added to the mixture along with some crushed garlic and a bit of salt. 

The mixture is molded by hand to form tortillas and in the center, they place chorizo (sausage), potato, cheese, or beans and then close them in half to form patties. These then go in a hot pan until they are ready to be served.

Cajeta De Coco

A sweet ending by Becki Robins
A sweet ending by Becki Robins

This delicious coconut-flavored dessert is a variation of the arroz con leche that most of us know and love. This one is made with cooked rice, water, sugar, grated coconut and cinnamon to taste.

It’s one of those heartwarming foods that will instantly brighten your day and will have you reaching for more.

Olla de Carne

Soup's on! Max Oh
Soup’s on! by Max Oh

This truly scrumptious and nutritious soup is made with beef and vegetables such as sweet potato, cassava, potato, carrots, plantains, corn, and squash.

It’s not only very filling and satisfying, but it’s also good for you.


Costa Rican tamales are made with a mixture of cornmeal, rice with saffron, pork and different kinds of beans and vegetables.

This mixture is then carefully and skillfully wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to perfection.

The savory treat is very common in Costa Rica, particularly at Christmas time and it’s a great option if you’re looking for something quick to enjoy on the go.

So next time you’re in Costa Rica or even just passing through, try one of these yummy dishes and let me know what your experience was like in the comments below.

by: Carolina Salazar