10 Traditional Costa Rican Foods

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Food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Costa Rica, but you can put it high on your list. Although mild, it is not bland. With its abundance of fresh ingredients, early Spanish influence, and high tourist traffic, you will always be able to find something to eat. While in the country, try some traditional Costa Rican foods like the ones in this article.

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10 Traditional Costa Rican Foods

1. Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

Gallo pinto is the national Costa Rican dish. It is rice and beans and when eaten at breakfast it often comes with eggs.

2. Tamal

Tamal is masa or a starchy dough steamed in either a banana leaf or corn husk.

Inside the tamal can be a variety of ingredients such as meat, vegetables, cheese, Costa Rican fruits, and more.

3. Patacones

Costa Rican patacones are slices of plantain fried twice.

Patacones are all over Latin America often taking different names such as tostones, chatinos, or platano frito.

In Costa Rica they like to eat patacones with a black bean dip.

4. Casado

A famous Costa Rican food is Casado. It is a full Costa Rican meal.

Casado contains rice, black beans, plantains, salad, a tortilla, and meat.

5. Chifrijo

Chifrijo is rice, beans, meat, and chimichurri. Chimichurri is a tomato salad with lime juice.  The meat is usually pork, e.g., chicharrones, fried pork meat, or pork skins.

Chifrijo is a common dish to eat with a Costa Rican beer in the local bar.

Chifrijo, Traditional Costa Rican Foods, Survive Travel

By Roberto Rodríguez [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

6. Picadillo

Picadillo is ground beef and tomatoes mixed with other vegetables and spices.

It is a common dish all over Latin America and also in the Philippines (called giniling).

In Costa Rica they include the main ingredient in the name. For example, potato picadillo. Eat it with rice or as a filling in tacos or pastry.

7. Arroz con Leche

Arroz con Leche directly translates to Rice Pudding, and that is what it is. Mix rice with water or milk and some sweeteners such as sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Arroz con leche as a Costa Rican dessert will naturally have more sugar.

8. Chicharrones

Chicharrón is fried pork rinds. It may also be chicken, mutton or beef, but pork is the most common. You can eat it as the main meat side of your rice dish, or as a “pork crackling” snack food.

9. Sopa Negra

Sopa Negra is all over Latin America, but it comes from Costa Rica.

Sopa Negra is a black bean soup. It is very nutritious and delicious.

Besides the main ingredient of black beans, sopa negra almost always comes with a hard-boiled egg cooked in the soup.

When asking locals what the best Costa Rican food is, sopa negra is always high on the list.

10. Olla de Carne

Another popular Costa Rican food is olla de carne. It is Costa Rica’s version of beef stew. Traditionally, olla de carne was a midday meal. These days it is more a weekend treat.

Lots of Costa Rican traditional food is available in other parts of the world. But as with most countries, Costa Rica has their own special version.

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Thanks to their abundance of fresh ingredients, the Costa Rican variation is often tastier and more colorful than others.

Did you enjoy this list of typical Costa Rican foods? If so, please share it with your friends.

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