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Costa Rican Food – 11 of the Best Dishes in Costa Rica That You Must Try

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor May 16th, 2020 Posted in Central America Travel Blog, Restaurant and Recipes, Travel Blog No comments

Costa Rica has a lot to offer, and that includes its dishes. Just a bit of research will help you find out some of the best Costa Rica dishes you must try!

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by Atanas Malamov

Delivery and online shopping are becoming the world’s most trending activities lately. But if you live in Costa Rica, these activities might be hard to do. That is because Costa Rica doesn’t have an address in almost every building since most of the streets here don’t have a name and number. If you’re pretty bad in direction, you might easily get lost here. But don’t worry too much, since Costa Rica is a very safe country and the locals will be happy leading or guiding you to the place you want to go.

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
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Staying in Costa Rica will not be complete without trying its authentic dishes. Located in between Caribbean Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica has a lot of seafood resources. And it’s something common when you’re in the Caribbean since most of their popular dishes are seafood.

But here we have 11 Costa Rica dishes that are not only seafood but also other ingredients that you have to try while you’re staying there.

1. Casado

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by Jason Baker CC BY-SA 2.0

Costa Rican’s main common foods for local is Casado. The meaning of Casado’s name is quite unique, which is “married”. It is said that a long time ago a man asked to be served with food like what Costa Rican married men had for lunch or dinner at home. And the menu that was served for the man is a dish that we know now as Casado.

Casado itself is consists of some ingredients and served on one plate. They usually use rice, black beans, salad, and some protein from chicken, fish, or beef as the ingredients. Some places also served it with fried plantains as well.

2. Gallo Pinto

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by Lablascovegmenu CC BY 2.0

What is the most common dish in Latin America besides plantains? They’re rice and beans. And Gallo Pinto is a Costa Rican version of rice and beans. To seasoning the white and beans, Costa Rican usually use ginger and other spices. Every place has its own signature seasoning.

Nicaragua also has its own version of Gallo Pinto. What makes Gallo Pinto from these two countries different are the beans that they use as the main ingredient. While the Costa Rican version uses the black beans, the Nicaragua version uses red beans.

3. Chifrijo

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by Roberto Rodríguez CC BY-SA 2.0

Chifrijo actually is a dish that is quite new to Costa Rica. Miguel Cordero invented it in the 1980s. His invention became widely popular in Costa Rica since then and has been serving in almost every bar and restaurant nowadays.

Miguel was working in Cordero’s Bar in Colima de Tibás when he invented this dish. Chifrijo is made from rice, beans, fried pork rinds/skin or in Costa Rica is called chicharrones, chimichurri, and is served along with tomato salad dressed with lime juice. He offered Chifrijo to customers in the bar and they love it. That’s how Chifrijo was born.

4. Sopa Negra


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Sopa Negra means “black soup.” Suiting its name, Sopa Negra’s color is black from using black beans as the main ingredient. Abundant availability of black beans made Costa Rican processed it to be canned or dried black beans or just using fresh black beans to make other dishes. The process of cooking the beans resulting in a black liquid that later processed to be a stock for Sopa Negra.

They cook the soup with sweet potatoes, bananas, plantains, corn, or rice and then season it with peppers (but not too spicy), onions, cilantro, tomatoes, or cheese. Then they serve it with boiled eggs. Or they also serve it with the eggs boiled together with the soup as well, depending on the chef’s way of processing the dish. 

Sopa Negra is originally from Costa Rica, but nowadays you can also find a similar dish in other Latin American countries.

5. Olla de Carne


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A simple soup that will never fail your taste buds. Olla de Carne is one of the proofs of that theory. This soup has various flavors, textures, and nutrition and it’s made from diced meat and vegetables. The meat that is used to be the main ingredient can be jerked meat, steak, and ribs, and any vegetables can be used to make this soup, depending on your taste.

The variety of ingredients is limitless. Sometimes Costa Ricans even add sweet potatoes, bananas, plantains, corn, cassava, or many other things into this soup. Olla de Carne is a traditional soup that is enjoyed together with families and friends at lunch.

6. Chicharrones

The Chicharrones that previously mentioned while discussing Chifrijo is the most common processed meat in Costa Rica. Chicharrones that is made from pork skin seasoned with lemon, while the one made from meat is usually wrapped in a tortilla and served along with lemon juice, cabbage, or tomatoes.

This dish is better not to consume too often and much since it contains high-fat content, which is around 40%. But it also contains high protein, it has 8-9 grams of protein every 0,5 oz Chicharrones.

7. Ceviche

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by stu_spivack CC BY-SA 2.0

Want to try seafood appetizer in Costa Rica? Then you have to try Ceviche. This dish is the most popular appetizer in here and is made from raw fresh fish. The fish flesh is soaked in lime juice and mixed with spices and vegetables.

Tilapia or Corvina is widely used to make this dish. It’s seasoned with coriander leaves, garlic, shallots, chili, and celery. Ceviche can be easily found in almost all of the coastal cities.

8. Patacones

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by s-velasco CC BY-ND 2.0

Plantains that are widely consumed in the Carribean are also the top cuisine in Costa Rica. Patacones are the Costa Rican version of fried plantains. Derived from Spanish, the word Patacones means “toast.”

Patacones are made from dried sliced plantains and it has a savory and sometimes sweet taste depending on the ripeness of the Plantano used. Fried Patacones has a starchy and crunchy texture and is usually served as a side dish.

9. Tres Leches Cake

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by Hungry Dudes CC BY 2.0

The most popular cake dessert in Costa Rica is Tres Leches Cake. It is Costa Rican’s National Dessert. It’s named tres leches since it uses 3 types of milk to soak the cake. The cake itself is served as a wet cake.

Before it can be served, Tres Leches Cake has to be chilled out on the fridge for around 2 days to ensure that the 3 types of milk are perfectly absorbed in the spongy cake. It has creamy and reach taste and served with whipped cream frosting and cherries on top.

10. Granizados

11 of the Best Dishes That You Must Try in Costa Rica
Photo by Bernal Saborio CC BY-SA 2.0

The very tempting appearance in the tropical hot weather makes anyone unable to refuse Granizados’ freshness and sweetness. Granizados or sometimes called Copo is a snow cone dessert. It is made from shaved ice and usually, red syrup poured on top of the ice. Originally it only uses those two ingredients, but nowadays the sellers sometimes add ice cream on top of the dessert and it makes Granizados more perfect.

If you want another version and don’t like syrup, you can pour condensed milk, vanilla ice, or milk powder on the shaved ice. You can also pour the three at the same time, and it will be a new dish called Churchill.

11. Fria Pipa


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Coming to the tropical country and missing out on the coconut water is not recommended. You have to try Costa Rican’s coconut water which is called Fria Pipa by locals. The coconut that is used to make Fria Pipa is green coconut and is chilled so it would have cooling and refreshing taste. The vitamins and electrolytes contained on the coconut water will restore your energy after exploring the beautiful Costa Rica nature.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with fascinating biodiversity. With colonial influence in the past and cultural sharing with other Latin American countries, it produces a unique blend in Costa Rica. Varieties of those dishes above are a small proof of Costa Rica’s uniqueness. Will you come exploring this country soon? Don’t forget to try all of those Costa Rica dishes by yourself!

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]