One of the most popular countries in Central America; Costa Rica really does have it all. Known for its stunning lush rainforests, eco-friendly diversity, epic surf spots, and relaxed culture.
Most importantly, the food is going to excite you too! You’ll be loving all the choices you’ll have for what to eat in Costa Rica! And let me tell you, there is so much more to the cuisine than just chicken, rice and beans.
Do yourself a favour; book a ticket, grab your backpack, and head to this colourful country.
One of the best ways to experience a culture, especially on a culinary level, is to discover it like a local. This is very true in many countries, but for Costa Rica, it certainly applies. So many tasty dishes and appetising delights to name – but we’ve tried to name the best of what to eat in Costa Rica.
What to eat in Costa Rica – 6 dishes you must try:
Chifrijo is a popular snack or dish served in bars throughout Costa Rica and is typically served in a bowl. Chi refers to chicharrón (fried pork) and frijo refers to frijoles (beans).
There’s nothing more comforting than enjoying a bowl of fresh-made beans with a large spoonful of rice ladled with bean broth. The dish is usually garnished with salsa lizano (always delicious), avocado and homemade tortilla chips. Yum.
It is customary in Costa Rica to eat a large lunch, similar to the almuerzo and daily lunch menu throughout Latin America. Casado is the most common lunch you’ll see and you can find it served at almost every restaurant.
It almost always consists of one protein, such as chicken or pork, potato, a salad, fried sweet plantains and beans, and rice. It’s the typical food of Costa Rica and the term ‘Casado’ means married in Spanish, so the name makes sense.
This is usually a large portion of food, so it will definitely get you through the entire day.
While tamales are a common dish throughout Central and South America, Ticos (a native of Costa Rica) have their own spin on the recipe. Authentic Costa Rican tamales include rice, potatoes, and garbanzo beans.
Classic fillings also include chicken, pork or a combination of these proteins. The masa (dough) brings it all together. Corn flour, pork lard and various spices are the main ingredients to a good masa.
Tamales are assembled in a banana leaf and steamed. A perfect snack to eat on the go or for long journeys.
A traditional soup with variations throughout Latin America. It’s made with a combination of black beans, onions, garlic, peppers, hot peppers, coriander, and chicken broth.
The soup is slowly cooked until the beans become tender, then garnished with slices of hard-boiled egg and avocado slices or a dollop of sour cream.
This warming bean soup is usually served with heated corn tortillas on the side and white rice that’s added into the soup.
Gallo Pinto is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in Costa Rica. We ate this every morning during our travels here.
The dish is a blend of rice, beans, onions, sweet plantains, peppers, and coriander which are stewed and combined overnight to develop the flavours. Then, it is warmed through and topped with a fried egg and cheese.
This is a filling breakfast, we often shared a plate each morning as the portions are always so generous. Don’t forget to add a little hot sauce to enjoy this dish, it seems to elevate the flavours. Our favourite is the zesty salsa lizano.
Olla de Carne (Beef stew)
A big bowl of warming olla de carne is a favourite weekend dish. Many homes across the country would cook this dish on the weekends.
Chunks of beef are slowly cooked with vegetables such as cassava, carrots, corn, plantains, and taro root. The slow method of cooking this stew results in a bold, hearty dish. It is a comforting meal, served with a bowl of white rice.
Have we missed your favourite Costa Rican dish? Tell us what it is and why it should be on our list of what to eat in Costa Rica.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Costa Rica, check Booking.com for prices and availability.
TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
✈️ Flights:Skyscanner and Expedia are the best sites to search for the cheapest flights and great deals from your home country.
🏨 Accommodation:Booking.com, Agoda, andHotelsCombined are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.
🛌 Homestays:Airbnb is an ideal platform to book a local experience. We use Airbnb to reserve entire apartments for long-term stays.
🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.
🚌 Transportation: We use BookaWay OR 12Go.Asia to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or Train Tickets.
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Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 190 countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.