Exploring Costa Rican Cuisine, an adventure for the senses


Costa Rican cuisine is not only underrated but almost unknown. Think about this: one of the things that will strike you first thing in the morning in Costa Rica is the flavor of its fruit in the hotel buffet. Pineapple is extremely sweet, papaya is tasty, mangos are almost criminally delicious, watermelons are red and savory, and even herbs like coriander or sweet pepper seem to have a concentration of flavor in every bite. If it is so, why, oh, why is Costa Rican food underrated?

Maybe because somehow there is a line to go across when you are visiting, at Amazing Costa Rica we can show you the real delicious Costa Rican food, the one we locals know so well!

Where does Costa Rican cuisine come from?

The first thing to say and to summarize a long, unneeded story is that Costa Rica was a very isolated place for hundreds of years, even before the Spaniards arrived in this area. We were a border town, so we had influences from everywhere, but our true identity was something to discover yet.

In the pre-Columbian years, they had corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and cocoa, but this was a result of the comings and goings of people across our land. Later on, when the Spaniards came, lots of other ingredients were interchanged, and new recipes started on this side of the planet, all over the continent.

People from all over the world who came to Costa Rica seeking safety were slowly influencing the country’s development. We had a significant influence from the Mesoamerican cultures as well as from some of the Chibcha Southamerican civilizations, but somehow, because of our topography, we remained in a bubble, for the good and the bad. In spite of these influences, Costa Rica’s unique topography helped to preserve some aspects of its culture, creating a blend of traditions that set it apart from other countries in the region. The fusion of different culinary influences continues to shape Costa Rican cuisine today, making it a true reflection of the country’s rich history and diverse population.

In this series, we will explore a bit of the delicious dishes that you will taste when you come to our amazing Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Food at its best:

Gallo pinto (rice and beans)

Rice and beans. They are all over Latin America. Frijoles and Latinos somehow go together, right? This is a story of tradition beyond the conquest, survival to slavery and tremendous conditions, and a fantastic mixture of ethnicities. Rice and beans are part of being Latin American as much as speaking Spanish.

It mixes the Precolumbian cultures that used to eat beans with different dishes of maize, another vital component in our diet, with the Europeans that brought the rice and the Africans that seasoned the dish with fantastic creativity.

African culinary influences are especially noticeable in nations like Brazil and Cuba.

In different countries, recipes vary, from the “moors and Christians” from Cuba to the Caribbean versions that mix it with plantains, coconut oil, and milk.

In Costa Rica, you will find “gallo pinto” as our national dish (it is also the Nicaraguan national dish). We usually make it with black beans, although in the North Pacific regions they frequently make it with red beans. We usually eat it for breakfast and call it just “pinto.”.

The way to make it is to fry first the onions, garlic, coriander, and all the seasonings, and then throw the beans in black soup, add Lizano sauce (a very typical sort of Worcestershire sauce), and let them stir around a bit. When they are already bubbly, we throw the rice in, mix them, and let them dry on slow heat.

In the Caribbean, it’s sometimes prepared with chile and coconut milk, and it gets the name “Rice and Beans” in Mekatelyu or Patois, an English based dialect from the Caribbean islands and coasts. It is usually served with chicken, also cooked in coconut milk, and it’s delicious!


This is the most typical lunch plate in Costa Rica. You will find it in many places as the main “Executive Lunch” option, always offered with a selection between chicken, beef, and sometimes pork or fish.

The basic ingredients are pretty much the same as always:

  • Rice and beans are not usually mixed (in fact, sometimes beans even come in a separate bowl).
  • Vegetables, usually chopped and mixed: chayote and sweet corn; potatoes and carrots; or zuchini and sweet pepper (to name a few possibilities).
  • Salad, which can range from a very simple green salad (meaning a slice of tomato over a lettuce leaf and a couple of onion rings) to a very complex Russian bead salad or a tuna pasta salad, is quite varied, and it changes from one restaurant (or home) to thee next.
  • Plaintains are usually fried. Although there are several variations, Costa Ricans love to eat plaintains baked with cheese on top, made as a dessert with mik and sugar, or even do “empanadas” and stuff them with mashed beans.
  • Most of the time, casados include tortillas, a fried egg, and even pasta with tomato sauce.
  • And they are always accompanied by a fruit juice that can be mango, strawberry, pineapple, or whatever is in season.

Dive into Costa Rican Flavors!

Costa Rican cuisine offers a surprising adventure for your taste buds. It’s a delicious blend of indigenous traditions and global influences, reflecting the country’s rich history. This is just a peek at the culinary delights Costa Rica has to offer. Ready to experience the magic for yourself? Amazing Costa Rica, a destination management company run by local women, can craft your dream itinerary. We’ll take you beyond the tourist traps and immerse you in authentic Costa Rican culture, including its incredible cuisine.

Contact Amazing Costa Rica today and let’s design your personalized Costa Rican adventure. Pura vida!


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