Top 4 Costa Rican Food Dishes to Try When You Visit - The Viking Abroad
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Top 4 Costa Rican Food Dishes to Try When You Visit

15 Nov Top 4 Costa Rican Food Dishes to Try When You Visit

Did you know that Costa Rica, that epic Central American country, known for its beautiful beaches and incredible wildlife is also a haven for food lovers?

Sure it has pristine beach resorts, a relaxed vibe, exclusive experiences, and incredible rain forests with beautiful species of animals where backpackers and retired Americans alike come to chill out.

But if you are traveling to Costa Rica be sure to check out some of the amazing food available there.

Here is some Costa Rican food to get your teeth into.


These banana-like fruits are bright green and grow naturally in Costa Rica. They are a stable of both Caribbean and Central American cuisine are not just exclusive to Costa Rican cuisine.

However, whilst they look like bananas they have a more neutral flavor and contain less sugar. Normal bananas are often referred to as desert bananas whereas plantains are generally regarded as cooking bananas.

This makes them ideal for cooking and they can be added to many different dishes, savory dishes as well as sweet ones. Many argue they serve a similar purpose to potatoes in African and African-Caribbean cooking.

They are bigger than bananas and some types have such a tough outer skin that it has to be removed with a knife or after cooking when the skin has softened. They cannot be simply peeled like bananas.

They do, however, contain a similar level of potassium making them an excellent healthy choice and a Costa Rican cuisine to try when visiting Costa Rica.

2. Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches means three milk and that perfectly sums up what this cake is all about. It has a milky but varied texture thanks to the different types of milk it uses. It has evaporated milk for a thin feel, condensed milk for a thicker texture, sweetened milk and even cream.

This makes it one of the sweetest dishes you can get in Costa Rica and some people do find it quite sickly. You can find it all over Costa Rica in most bakeries where it is freshly made.

Be sure to give it a go before you leave Costa Rica.

3. Rice and Beans

This traditional Caribbean recipe pays homage to Costa Rica’s African heritage when thousands of slaves were imported from Africa during the country’s time as a Spanish colony.

It is a simple dish that requires little in the way of extensive preparation but it is full of nutrients and energy. This dish is popular all over the Caribbean and former slave states, not just in Costa Rica.

It is composed of rice and black beans simmered in coconut milk and a variety of local spices to give it some flavor. It uses mainly mild spices including Panamanian pepper but you can ask for it to be cooked extra spicy or add some hot sauce if you want.

The amazing thing about this dish is that fills you up even though it does not contain any meat. That makes it perfect for vegetarians and vegans. But it also makes it perfect for those who don’t eat meat for every meal and are looking for a great alternative.

This is just another reason to visit Costa Rica.

4. Cacao Fresco

Thought you knew chocolate? Think again. This dish means fresh cacao or fresh cocoa and it is raw cocoa beans. They are contained within a fruit that when ripe is raw yellow.

Crack open the fruit and you will the cacao beans from which chocolate or cocoa is produced but you will also find a sweet fruit. Sweet chocolate might sound like a concept with which we are all familiar but chocolate is not naturally sweet.

The original meaning of cacao or chocolate – first discovered by the Aztecs – was sour water because it had such a bitter taste to it. Sugar is added later during the manufacturing process.

As well as trying it buy it from one of the many street-side vendors you can also learn more about its history and how it grows. Be sure to take a tour of the many cacao farms in Costa Rica.

The history of chocolate and the cacao bean is bloody and the battle for control over it led in part to the colonization of much of the entire Caribbean. It was sacred for many of the pre-European tribes that once lived in Costa Rica and now for all Costa Rican people.

Costa Rican Food Is a Must Try

If you are heading to Costa Rica then you are probably going for the pristine and long stretching beaches or the amazing rain forests and animal diversity. Or perhaps you are going for the amazing Costa Rican people.

However, not many people realize that there is such a strong food scene here. It is great and varied and can also reveal a great deal about Costa Rica’s violent past.

Rice and beans is a staple that is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. And if you’ve traveled to other parts of the Caribbean or Central America and think you have already tried it, think again. Costa Ricans have added their own take to this classic.

There is also some fresh fruit here that is interesting to try. Plantains might seem like they are unripe bananas but they have a different use in Costa Rican cooking and have a completely different texture when cooked.

Meanwhile, cacao freshco is like a combination of chocolate and fruit, which is unusual given chocolate is not naturally sweet.

If you are interested in reading more about Costa Rican food and travel be sure to check out the rest of our website.


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