The most typical dish in all Costa Rica is “Gallo Pinto”, “red rooster”, a rice and bean dish served with breakfast and sometimes lunch. Different recipes include herbs or garlic, but the basic ingredients are always black beans and rice, bell peppers and onions.
Don´t pass up an opportunity to try Lizano, the Costa Rican imitation of English Worcestershire sauce. This piquant blend of vegetables, chiles, and sugar is used on almost everything, like ketchup. If you get addicted, it´s now available in the US on your grocer´s Spanish food shelf.
Fried plantains (a very large, fame variety of banana, also referred to as cooking bananas) are a common, sweet side dish to many breakfast and lunch meals. On the Limon side, rice and beans are flavored with coconut oil and Caribbean spices. Hot peppers are also more popular there. Side salads are generally made with cabbage slaw, red and green, flavored with oil and vinegar or mayonnaise. In a warm climate they prove very refreshing. The daily specials and cheapest dishes in smaller restaurants are called “Casados”, with means “married”. You choice, especially in Sodas, small mom and pop eateries.
The most typical dish for lunch and dinner in the home (and popular in restaurants too) is “arroz con pollo”, chicken strips mixed in rice with vegetables. Fresh fish is also common and wonderful.
Some other meals and snacks you may come across include Olla de Carne, a heavy meat and vegetable soup, “Picadillos”, a hash of potatoes, plantains and veggies, and “Empanadas”, corn flour dough filled with meats, chicken, or fruit and fried. Empanadas are the preferred bite at street carts or doorway snack bars.
Costa Rica does top Mexico in desserts, especially for those with North American Tastes. The national dessert is Tres Leches, three milks. Arroz con Leche is also one of the most popular desserts, rice mixed in milk and sugar, the flavor is simple but delightful to anyone!
Coffee, Beer and Batidos
Don´t go to Costa Rica without having coffee. It´s a higher quality that typical North American everyday fare, and better than Starbucks. “Café con Leche”is coffee served n hot milk, like a cappuccino, only less expensive.
Coffee is the best shopping deal in all Costa Rica. Althoug the best Costarican coffee is allegedly shipped off to North American and European markets, it´s hard to beat the coffee that´s roasted right in front of you here.
The Batidos and their counterparts, liquados in Mexico and smoothies in the US, are truly delicious – and they are drunk at any time of day. Made by blending fruit, crushed ice, water or milk together into a smooth liquid, their variations are a endless as one´s imagination and Costa Rica´s bountiful selection of fruit.
Not as well known ourside of Costa Rica is the wonderful beer we brew. The favorite one is imperial, a lager, but you should decide on yours by trying them all. Pilsen is a light gold pilsner, while smooth Bavaria is a bit heavier and darker than Imperial.