For food fans, one of the big things about visiting any place is sampling the local cuisine – trying new dishes or new twists on classic dishes, unusual ingredients or simply something made a different way. So if you are planning a trip to San Jose Costa Rica or any other part of the country, what kind of cuisine will you encounter?
Basics of the cuisine
Some describe Costa Rican cuisine as a mix of comfort food and traditional home cooking with a Latin flare. The country has many family owned and operated restaurants that are small in size and called ‘sodas’ offering some of the best traditional or modern types of Costa Rican cuisine.
Generally, the food isn’t as spicy as in some parts of the region and the ease of sourcing fruit and vegetables means there are plenty of flavors on offer. If you read a good guide on the country such as the Travel Excellence Costa Rica Travel Guide you will also see that the tap water in the country is safe to drink so there’s no need to rely on bottled water.
Gallo Pinto is a breakfast dish that is comprised of beans and rice that is popular in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The basic ingredients are mixed with a range of other ingredients to add the taste including cilantro, onions and peppers.
Casado is more a type of dish than a specific one – it is a combination of ingredients served on a plate and usually includes rice, beans, tortillas, salad, fried plantain and a different meat or fish. Where you are in the country often dictates what meat or fish you receive and there is usually a glass of fresh fruit juice served with it.
Chifrijo is a bar dish that combines rice and beans with either fried pork meat or skins and is topped with a mix of avocado, chimichurri, lime and pica de gallo. It is served with homemade tortilla or plantain chips and is perfect with a cold drink.
Chicharrones is another popular snack meal that is served at family gatherings and at bars as well as at celebrations. They are made from fried pork rinds – so be aware of your cholesterol levels! The dish is so popular that there is an annual fair in Puriscal dedicated to it.
Patacones are peeled and sliced green plantains that are quickly boiled then flattened and fried until crispy. They are then finished with lime and salt then served with refried beans, avocado, pica de gallo or even shredded cabbage.
The cuisine of Costa Rica can definitely be described as a fun one with lots of traditional dishes and fun light meals to enjoy. Plus, you can always get a good supply of international classics that you will recognize if you are a little unsure about trying something unusual.