Top 10 foods & drinks you have to try in Costa Rica
It isn't a surprise that I love trying new foods whenever and wherever I travel. So when our family decided to move to Costa Rica, first on my list was trying all of their traditional foods and drinks.
Costa Rica's cuisine is true comfort food that is cooked with love. The highlight of every meal are local vegetables and fruit usually paired with rice and beans. No matter which local soda restaurant you try, you are guaranteed fresh ingredients and a glimpse into the Tico culture.
Check out my top 10 foods and drinks you have to try when you visit Costa Rica!
Simply meaning married man, casado is a quintessential Tico dish that is typically eaten for lunch or dinner. Served with rice and beans, casado is made with several types of protein like chicken, pork, beef and even fish.
For me, this dish always taste like grandma's home cooking and is my go to meal. Sodas will have a variety of sides but it is traditionally served with sauteed plantains and either a salad or pasta salad. Its super filling and always cheap.
Olla carne is a hearty beef stew and is one of the most popular dishes in the country. While you can't typically find this dish in every soda restaurant, its fairly common in Costa Rica and incorporates a lot of local ingredients. Several cuts of beef are used like flank, short rib, and chuck and mixed with corn, cassava, plantains and even taro root.
Arozz con pollo or camarones
No matter where you eat in Costa Rica, arroz con pollo/camarones will almost always be on the menu. Its packed full of flavor since the rice is cooked with annatto (a saffron like spice) and local vegetables. While rice with chicken is the most popular, you can find it mixed with shrimp, a variety of shell fish or vegetarian. Paired with a side of french fries and a salad, its a cheap meal thats also delicious. Its also kid friendly which is great if you have a picky toddler like us.
While seafood is not my usual go-to meal, ceviche Tico makes my mouth water! In Cost Rica, most ceviche is made with sea bass or shrimp and is a refreshing, light dish that is perfect for the hot weather. The seafood is mixed with red onion, red pepper, cilantro and lime and is served with plantain chips or saltine crackers. It is simple yet full of a flavorful mixture of salt and acid.
While traveling in the country, you will come across small, ceviche stands parked on the side of the road. They are great for a quick pit stop to try one of Costa Rica's most-loved dish. There are also families that will sell ceviche from coolers or their cars on most popular beaches. Some of my favorite memories of Costa Rica are of Ryan and I enjoying cold ceviche with an Imperial, our toes in the sand and watching Milena enjoy the beach.
Nearly every country has a famous bar snack that pairs perfectly with a nice cold beer, and in Costa Rica that dish is Chifrijo. Rice and beans are layered into a bowl and topped with fried pork meat or skin and covered in pico de gallo and avocado. Its salty, acidic and easy to devour the whole bowl in a matter of seconds.
Who knew fried, green plantains could be so addicting? Patacones are a staple in Tico food and usually served as an appetizer. Green plantains are smashed then friend and covered in lime and salt. You can eat them with refried beans, guacomole and/or pico de gallo and its near impossible to eat just one.
The first few months after we moved to Costa Rica, our family would always order patacones before every meal. We just couldn't get enough of this salty snack and its always my go-to appetizer.
Beans and rice are common in most dishes in Costa Rica which is even the case for breakfast. The go-to breakfast meal is gallo pinto and its my favorite! Simply rice and black beans mixed with onion, bell pepper, cilantro and Costa Rica's famous Lizano sauce, its a hearty breakfast eaten with eggs and toast.
This vegetarian dish is inexpensive, packed with flavor and very filling. You can find it pretty much anywhere in throughout the country for a typical, Tico breakfast.
Batido (also known as naturales or refrescos,)
With some of the world's most flavorful fruit at their backdoor, its no surprise that one of Costa Rica's most popular foods is a fruit smoothie. A batido is simply fresh fruit blended with water or milk and usually with some sugar. A variety of fruits are used like strawberry, mango, pineapple, banana, watermelon, soursop, etc. and you can bet its always refreshing.
Almost all soda restaurants have batidos and they are our favorite treat when its hot outside and need to cool off.
If you enjoy a nice cold beer while watching the sundown on the beach, Costa Rica is the place to be. Imperial is the most commonly served beer in Costa Rica and it has become a symbol for the tourism industry. And for good reason. Its a light lager that is very drinkable in hot and humid weather. While it isn't the most awarded or flavorful beer you can find, its synonymous with Costa Rica.
Order your Imperial like a local with a side of ice and a lime and enjoy! Imperial pairs perfectly with the beach and pura vida lifestyle and is my go-to beer in Costa Rica.
You can't visit Costa Rica without trying their coffee. As one of the largest producers of coffee in the world, Costa Rica's has some of the finest and most flavorful beans you will ever find. Our family grinds Dota coffee beans every morning to start off our day with a bold cup of coffee.
Served either black or with milk (café con leche) coffee in Costa Rica is traditionally brewed with a chorreador. This device has been used in Costa Rica for over 200 hundred years and produces a strong, robust cup of coffee. Ground beans are placed in the sock and hot water is poured over them. Its simple, very traditional and remains popular in the country for how much flavor is extracted from the beans.