I may be a bit biased (but I doubt it!) because I adore everything about Costa Rica, but the traditional cuisine of this incredible little country is definitely one of the many reasons you should visit. Staples in the Costa Rica diet include rice, beans, corn tortillas, queso fresco, plantains, papaya, bananas, various types of squash, locally-caught seafood, and free-range chicken and meat.
If you want to experience the best local cuisine, you can find it at nearly any soda. A soda is a restaurant, typically family-owned and operated that serves traditional Costa Rican food. These small restaurants are very budget-friendly! Every town in Costa Rica has at least one soda. In Huacas, you will find multiple sodas, including Soda Guanacaste. If you make it to Villa Real, the town before you turn in to go to Tamarindo, Soda Las Palmas is a must!
Eating a soda is a great way to have an authentic cultural experience while you are visiting Costa Rica. If you don’t feel like venturing out of Playa Grande though, you can enjoy some local favorites around town. Upstairs at the RipJack Inn, our menu features several of those must-try dishes.
Gallo pinto is synonymous with Costa Rica! A perfectly married blend of rice, bean, cilantro, onions, pepper, and other spices is a breakfast basic. At the RipJack Inn, the gallo pinto is made with brown rice and is served in some breakfast and lunch dishes including the grilled breakfast wrap, desayuno tipico, and veggie hummus wrap.
Patacones are a favorite local snack. Green plantains are cut, fried, pressed into a disc-shape, and fried again. They are typically accompanied by refried beans and salsa fresca. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like patacones!
You can’t go to the coast and not enjoy some ceviche! While ceviche is not a dish exclusively found in Costa Rica, it is one that is done well here. The basics of a ceviche include fresh fish, a lot of limes, cilantro, some veggies like chile dulce, salt, other seasonings, and often a good splash of ginger ale.
This dish is the epitome of fresh and really hits the spot on a hot tropical day at the beach. Ceviche is usually served with homemade tortilla chips, plantains chips, or if you are lucky patacones.
A cascado is what Costa Ricans call a typical plate of food. Cascados can be served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner and frequently Costa Ricans have more than one a day. This plate always includes rice and beans and then a combination of salad, sweet plantains, queso fresco, and either fish, chicken, beef, or pork. There are all different combinations, and everyone place does their cascado a little differently.
This is the ultimate Costa Rican dish. If you are surfing while you are in Playa Grande, a cascado is the ultimate surfer’s food.
Traditional Costa Rica food is all made from locally grown and sourced ingredients. While you are in Costa Rica, do yourself a favor and try a variety of local food. I promise you that you won’t regret it!