Traditional Food in Costa Rica, what to eat?

Costa Rica is well known for its picturesque coastlines and breathtaking outdoor adventures,  but what most people don’t know is that it is also known in culinary circles for its seafood and a wide range of fresh green vegetables, herbs, and spices that are unique to the region. Colonial rulers from Spain and tourists from Italy have left a major influence on Costa Rican food as well.

When you travel to Costa Rica, you can plan on experiencing some of the tastiest cuisines in central America. Costa Rican beach resorts and other restaurants in the region serve traditional Costa Rican Food, rich in variety and taste. Some of the popular foods that you can expect to find are:

  • Black Beans and Rice
  • Empanadas (a Kind of pastry)
  • Tamales
  • Casado (Means Marriage)

Black Beans and Rice

This is often considered the national dish of Costa Rica. It is also referred to as “Galla Pinto”. This dish is often served with cilantro, salt, pepper, Sweet Chilies and Lizano Sauce.

Black beans and rice


This is actually a kind of pastry that comes with a variety of stuffing including Beans, Cheese, Potatoes, Chicken, Ham and other meat. Sometimes, a combination of two or three of the above-mentioned stuffing choices is included in the pastry. Super delicious…

Costa Rican Empanadas


Tamales are another popular food found in Costa Rican kitchens. During the Christmas season, these are very a very popular item to give to friends and loved ones.  For visiting tourists, Tamales can be tried in a lot of family run restaurants in Costa Rica. Tamales are basically made out of cornmeal, similar to the one made in Mexico and other Central American countries. Garlic, lard and other seasonings are added to cornmeal to make it spicier and tastier. The corn meal forms just part of the cuisine. It acts as an outer shell into which stuffing made out of beef, beans, vegetables and cilantro is added. After the stuffing has been placed in the cornmeal shell, tamales are covered up in a banana leaf, tied and then steamed until the outer shell hardens and the stuffing gets completely cooked. The hardened and cooked tamales are then served with hot tomato salsa.

Costa Rican food - tamales


This is another popular Costa Rican food which is actually a combination of a number of dishes served in small quantities on a single plate. There are three types of Casados in the form of fish, chicken, and beef.  You can choose anything as the main course and place the order.  The main food item would be accompanied by beans, rice, vegetables, Cabbage salad, Fried Yucca, Pasta, fresh cheese and some more side dishes.

Casado - Costa Rica traditional food

When you visit Costa Rica, make sure to try out the local cuisine to get the most out of your trip.  You won’t be sorry and you’ll gain insight into an amazing culture while you’re at it!


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