Blog Hero
  • Travel

Costa Rican Cuisine: What to Eat While Travelling in This Beautiful Country

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: April 4, 2023

Costa Rica is a beautiful country that offers travellers breathtaking views of beaches, rainforests, and abundant wildlife. While exploring this tropical paradise, you should also take some time to indulge in the vibrant food culture that Costa Rica has to offer. From breakfast to dessert, Costa Rican cuisine boasts a range of flavorful and satisfying dishes that reflect the country’s history and geography.

Breakfast

Starting your day with a delicious breakfast is a must while travelling in Costa Rica. One of the most popular dishes to try is Gallo Pinto, which is a rice and beans dish that is usually served with eggs, cheese, and tortillas. The beans and rice are cooked with onions, peppers, and spices to add extra flavour to the dish. Another dish worth trying is Café con Leche, Costa Rican coffee with milk. Costa Rican coffee is grown in high-altitude regions, giving it a unique flavour.

Snacks

Costa Rica has plenty of options for those who want to indulge in a quick snack. Plantain Chips are a popular choice and are made from slices of fried plantains that are seasoned with salt and spices. You can find them at almost every roadside stand. Empanadas are another favourite snack that is usually filled with meat, cheese, or beans. They are fried or baked and often served with a spicy dipping sauce. For a more filling snack, try Tamales, a traditional Costa Rican dish made from cornmeal dough that is filled with meat, vegetables, and spices, and wrapped in banana leaves.

Lunch and Dinner

When it comes to lunch and dinner, the Casado is a quintessential Costa Rican dish that you must try. It is a hearty meal that usually includes rice, beans, meat or fish, salad, and fried plantains. The dish is named after the Spanish word for “married,” which refers to the fact that all the different components of the dish come together to create a complete meal. The meat can be chicken, pork, or beef, and is often grilled or sautéed with onions and peppers for extra flavour. Arroz con Pollo, which is a chicken and rice dish with vegetables and spices, is another popular option that is filling and satisfying.

Seafood lovers must try Ceviche, a raw fish dish that is marinated in lime juice and mixed with onions and peppers. It is a refreshing and light dish that is perfect for hot summer days. Another must-try dish is Chifrijo, which is a layer of rice and beans topped with pork, avocado, and pico de gallo. It may be a bit of a mess to eat, but the combination of flavours and textures is worth the effort.

Desserts

No meal in Costa Rica is complete without dessert, and the country has plenty of sweet treats to offer. Tres Leches is a popular choice, made from a sponge cake that is soaked in three types of milk (evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream) and topped with whipped cream. It is rich and decadent, but also light and airy. Another popular option is Arroz con Leche, which is rice pudding with cinnamon. It is a simple but satisfying dessert that is perfect for a cool evening. Finally, there’s Flan, a caramel custard that is creamy and delicious.

Beverages

Costa Rica has a range of beverages that are worth trying. Horchata is a popular choice, made from sweet rice milk that is flavoured with cinnamon. It is creamy and refreshing, and a perfect drink for a hot day. For a more tropical drink, try Pipa Fria, which is cold coconut water. Costa Rican liquor made from sugarcane is also popular, with Guaro being the most well-known. It is a clear, colourless liquor that is made from sugar cane and has a taste similar to vodka. It can be enjoyed straight or mixed in a cocktail.

In conclusion, Costa Rica is a destination that offers much more than just breathtaking scenery and diverse wildlife. Its vibrant food culture is an essential aspect of the country’s identity, and indulging in the delicious dishes is a must for any traveller. Moreover, by volunteering with GVI in Costa Rica, you can explore the country’s cuisine in more depth. GVI offers opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture, including cooking classes to learn how to make traditional dishes like Gallo Pinto or Arroz con Leche. Volunteering with GVI in Costa Rica provides an excellent opportunity to not only learn about the country’s cuisine but also to make a positive impact in the community. So, if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, consider volunteering with GVI to experience the country’s culture and cuisine in a unique and meaningful way.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
what’s up next?
Nepal’s Traditional Food: A Culinary Journey through the Himalayas

Discover the rich and diverse flavours of Nepal's traditional cuisine, from momos to dal bhat, and learn how to experience it while volunteering in Pokhara with GVI.

You might also like these articles

Discovering the Best Beach Towns of Costa Rica: A Guide to Surf, Sand, and Sun
Read the article
Discovering the Best Beach Towns of Costa Rica: A Guide to Surf, Sand, and Sun
Travel
Bioluminescence in Costa Rica: A Natural Wonder to Behold
Read the article
Bioluminescence in Costa Rica: A Natural Wonder to Behold
Travel
Endangered Tree Species: Why They Matter and How to Save Them
Read the article
Endangered Tree Species: Why They Matter and How to Save Them
Travel
Costa Rica Food Culture: A Delicious Journey Through the Land of Pura Vida
Read the article
Costa Rica Food Culture: A Delicious Journey Through the Land of Pura Vida
Travel
Peak Climbing in Nepal: An Adventure of a Lifetime
Read the article
Peak Climbing in Nepal: An Adventure of a Lifetime
Volunteer and Adventure
Discovering the Rich Customs of Nepal: A Guide for Travelers
Read the article
Discovering the Rich Customs of Nepal: A Guide for Travelers
Travel
Celebrating Cambodian New Year: A Guide
Read the article
Celebrating Cambodian New Year: A Guide
Travel
The Importance of Citizen Science to Protect the Ocean
Read the article
The Importance of Citizen Science to Protect the Ocean
Volunteer and Adventure
Madagascar’s Iconic Baobab Tree
Read the article
Madagascar’s Iconic Baobab Tree
Volunteer and Adventure