20 List of Popular Food in Costa Rica – Most Delicious Foods

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Costa Rica is a beautiful country located in Central America with a rich culture and diverse cuisine. The government is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and exotic wildlife.

However, the country’s cuisine is one of the most intriguing aspects of Costa Rican culture. Costa Rican food blends Spanish, African, and indigenous influences, making it unique and delicious.

We will take a closer look at the most popular food in Costa Rica. From Gallo pinto, a beloved breakfast dish, to Ceviche, a popular seafood dish. The list will feature some of the most iconic dishes locals, and tourists rave about.

We will explore the history and origin of each word and the ingredients used to create them. Whether planning a trip to Costa Rica or simply curious about the country’s cuisine, this list will give you a taste of what to expect.

Popular Food in Costa Rica

20 Most Popular Food in Costa Rica – You Must Try

Costa Rican cuisine offers various flavorful options, from savoury dishes to sweet desserts. Gallo pinto, casado, and Ceviche are some of the most popular food in Costa Rica that reflect the country’s unique culture and history. In addition to these favourites, visitors can indulge in delicious empanadas, chorizo, and arroz con pollo.

These dishes are tasty and nutritious as they typically include fresh ingredients such as vegetables and seafood. Whether it’s a quick snack or a hearty meal, Costa Rica has something for everyone to enjoy.

1. Costa Rican Cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine is a reflection of the country’s diverse cultural heritage. With Spanish, African, and indigenous cultures influences, the food here uniquely blends flavours and ingredients. Fresh, locally sourced produce is a cornerstone of Costa Rican cooking, which has helped popularize traditional dishes like rice and beans, Ceviche, and gallo pinto. Whether you’re a foodie or just looking to try something new, Costa Rican cuisine offers a range of options to satisfy your taste buds.

2. Gallo Pinto: A Filling Breakfast Staple

Introducing Gallo Pinto, a hearty breakfast dish staple in Costa Rican cuisine. This delicious dish contains rice and beans with onions, peppers, and spices. The result is a flavorful mix often topped with scrambled eggs, cheese, and crispy plantains. Not only is Gallo Pinto filling and delicious, but it’s also an affordable option that can be found at local restaurants and street vendors throughout Costa Rica.

Gallo Pinto is a must-try dish for those looking for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast experience. Its popularity stems from its delectable taste and its ability to keep you full throughout the morning. So, start your day with this tasty breakfast staple next time you’re in Costa Rica.

3. Casado: The Classic Lunch Dish

You are introducing Casado, a traditional Costa Rican lunch dish that will satisfy your taste buds. This classic meal consists of rice, beans, plantains, salad and your choice of meat. “Casado” means “married,” referring to the marriage between all the ingredients in one complete meal.

Not only is this dish hearty and filling, but it also provides a well-rounded mix of nutrients. The combination of protein from the meat, carbohydrates from the rice and beans, and vitamins from the salad make it an ideal lunch option for anyone looking for a balanced meal. Plus, its availability at local restaurants and street vendors throughout Costa Rica also makes it an easy and convenient option for tourists.

4. Olla de Carne: A Flavorful Beef and Vegetable Stew

Olla de Carne is a favourite among locals and visitors in Costa Rica. This hearty beef and vegetable stew is packed with flavour, thanks to combining spices such as cumin, cilantro, and paprika. People typically serve the dish with rice and beans, making it a filling and satisfying meal.

The recipe for Olla de Carne can vary by region or household, but what remains constant is the delicious taste that keeps people coming back for more. Whether enjoyed at a local restaurant or homemade by a Costa Rican family, Olla de Carne is a must-try dish for any food lover visiting the country.

5. Sopa Negra: Black Bean Soup for a Hearty Meal

Sopa Negra is a delicious and hearty black bean soup staple in Costa Rican cuisine. The dish is typically served with hard-boiled eggs and sour cream on top, adding a creamy texture to the soup. Black beans are a great source of protein and fibre, making Sopa Negra a filling and nutritious meal option. Additionally, the spices used in the dish, such as cumin and oregano, add an extra layer of flavour to the soup, making it both satisfying and delicious. Whether you’re looking for a lovely lunch or dinner option, Sopa Negra will surely hit the spot.

6. Tamales: The Traditional Christmas Dish

Tamales are a beloved Costa Rican tradition, especially during the holiday season. These delicious treats consist of cornmeal dough filled with chicken or pork wrapped in banana leaves. Making tamales is time-consuming and often involves the whole family, making it a festive activity.

Tamales are typically served with coffee or hot chocolate, creating a warm and cosy holiday atmosphere. Whether enjoyed as a snack or meal, tamales are a staple in Costa Rican cuisine and a must-try for anyone visiting or living in the country.

7. Chifrijo: A Mix of Rice, Beans, Pork and Pico de Gallo

It introduces Chifrijo, a hearty Costa Rican dish that is a must-try for food lovers. It is a savoury mix of rice, beans, pork, and pico de gallo that is served as an appetizer or main course. The combination of chicharrones and frijoles gives the dish its name and makes it a filling and satisfying meal.

Chifrijo has become increasingly popular due to its delicious taste and versatility. It pairs well with other Costa Rican favourites such as ceviche and arroz con pollo. Whether you are a local or visiting Costa Rica for the first time, try this unique and flavorful dish.

8. Patacones: Crispy Fried Plantains for Snacking

They are introducing Patacones – the crispy, savoury snack that’s a must-try in Costa Rica. Made from green plantains sliced and twice-fried to perfection, patacones are a popular side dish or appetizer. These golden-brown discs may look simple, but they pack a flavorful punch with their blend of salty and starchy tastes.

Whether enjoyed plain or paired with your favourite dip, patacones are a satisfying treat that will leave you craving more.

9. Ceviche: A Refreshing Seafood Dish

Costa Rica’s location on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea makes it a perfect destination for seafood lovers, and Ceviche is a refreshing dish that should be at the top of any foodie’s list. This dish consists of raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice, which cooks the fish without heat. Citrus juice adds a tangy flavor to the dish and people typically serve it with onions, cilantro, peppers, and avocado.

Ceviche is delicious and an excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, it is low in fat and calories, making it a healthy option for those watching their weight. Whether dining at a high-end restaurant or ordering from a street vendor, Ceviche is a must-try for anyone looking to explore Costa Rican cuisine.

10. Arroz con Leche: A Sweet Rice Pudding Dessert

Arroz con Leche is a traditional Costa Rican dessert that has been enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for many years. This sweet rice pudding is made by cooking rice in milk and sugar, infused with cinnamon and vanilla for added flavour. This dish creates a creamy and comforting treat that can be served either warm or cold, making it perfect for any time of year.

Arroz con Leche is particularly popular during Christmas and other special occasions, but it’s also a great dessert option any day of the week. Whether you want to satisfy your sweet tooth or indulge in a beloved Costa Rican classic, Arroz con Leche will surely delight you.

11. Chorreadas: Sweet Corn Pancakes for Breakfast or Snacking

Costa Rican cuisine is known for its unique blend of flavours and ingredients influenced by various cultures. Chorreadas, a popular breakfast or snack option, are sweet corn pancakes that perfectly capture the essence of Costa Rican cuisine. These pancakes, made with fresh corn kernels, milk, flour, and a touch of sugar, are typically served with sour cream and cheese.

Chorreadas’ versatility makes them an excellent choice for any meal of the day. Whether you’re looking for a quick breakfast on the go or a mid-day snack to keep you fueled, these sweet corn pancakes will satisfy your taste buds. Plus, they’re easy to make at home, with simple ingredients in most grocery stores.

12. Churchill: A Cold and Sweet Beverage

Costa Rica is known for its refreshing and unique beverages, and Churchill is one drink that stands out. This cold and sweet beverage originated in the coastal province of Puntarenas and has become a cultural symbol of Costa Rica.

Churchill combines shaved ice with condensed milk, syrup, and various toppings such as fruit, cookies, or chocolate syrup. The result is a deliciously creamy and flavorful drink perfect for hot summer days or as a sweet treat any time of year. With its ideal combination of flavours and textures, it’s no wonder Churchill has become so popular among locals and tourists alike.

13. Picadillo: A Meaty Stew with Vegetables

Costa Rican cuisine blends various cultures, and Picadillo is a prime example. This meaty stew with vegetables is an excellent representation of the country’s rich flavours. The dish usually consists of ground beef or pork cooked with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and potatoes.

Some variants also include raisins, capers, or olives to add more depth to its flavour. You can serve picadillo with rice, tortillas, or as a filling for empanadas. This hearty stew is a must-try for anyone visiting Costa Rica to explore its diverse culinary traditions.

14. Ensalada Rusa: Costa Rican Style Russian Potato Salad

Ensalada Rusa is a unique and delicious Costa Rican twist on the traditional Russian potato salad. People often serve this popular dish as a side with main meals or as a snack between meals. The salad generally consists of boiled potatoes, carrots, and peas mixed with mayonnaise and sometimes tuna or chicken.

Ensalada Rusa can be customized to suit individual tastes by adding other vegetables or seasonings, making it a versatile dish that is effortless to make at home. Overall, Ensalada Rusa is just one example of the delightful and distinctive cuisine found in Costa Rica.

15. Empanadas: Fried or Baked Turnovers

Empanadas are a delicious and popular snack in Costa Rican cuisine. These savoury turnovers can be filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese or vegetables and can be fried or baked, depending on preference. Empanadas make for a perfect on-the-go meal or appetizer for parties and gatherings.

They are also a great way to experience local flavours while exploring street food culture in Costa Rica. Whether you like them crispy or fluffy, empanadas will satisfy your taste buds and leave you wanting more of the unique and flavorful foods this country offers.

16. Tamal de Maicena: Cornstarch Tamale for a Dessert Tweak

Introducing a unique spin on the traditional tamale, Tamal de Maicena is a cornstarch-based version that serves as a sweet dessert rather than a savoury dish. This soft, fluffy tamale combines cornstarch with milk, cinnamon and other spices and steals it in a banana leaf. People can find Tamal de Maicena throughout Costa Rica, especially during festivals or other special occasions.

Its subtle sweetness and unique texture make it an attractive option for those looking to try something new while enjoying the traditional flavours of Costa Rican cuisine.

17. Palmito Cheese: A Unique Souvenir to Take Home

Finding the perfect souvenir can be a challenge when it comes to travelling. Fortunately, in Costa Rica, one item stands out as both unique and delicious: palmetto cheese. Made from the heart of palm trees, this cheese has a mild flavour and creamy texture that pairs perfectly with crackers or bread. It is a tasty treat to enjoy during your trip and makes for a great gift or souvenir to bring back home.

18. Salsa Lizano: The Popular Costa Rican Condiment

Salsa Lizano is a staple in Costa Rican cuisine and has become increasingly popular worldwide. This unique condiment has a distinct smoky, sweet, and tangy flavour that enhances the taste of any dish it accompanies. People often use Salsa Lizano as a marinade for meats, a topping for rice and beans, or even as a dipping sauce for empanadas and other snacks.

The versatility of this condiment makes it an essential ingredient in many Costa Rican homes and restaurants. Whether you want to add some flavour to your meal or want to try something new, Salsa Lizano is worth trying.

19. Rondón: A Caribbean Style Coconut Seafood Soup

Rondón is a delicious and hearty seafood soup that originated in the Caribbean but has become popular in Costa Rican cuisine. Its rich, creamy texture comes from coconut milk, adding a unique tropical flavour.

Combining fish, shrimp, and crab with yucca, plantains, and peppers creates a balanced taste and an abundance of nutrients. Whether enjoyed as a main course or an appetizer during special occasions, Rondón will satisfy your taste buds and leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.

20. Melcochas de Natilla: Sweet Chewy Candy Desserts

Introducing the final dish on our list of the most popular food in Costa Rica – Melcochas de Natilla. These sweet chewy candy desserts are typical at festivals and special occasions nationwide.

Made with cornstarch and sugar, they offer a unique texture. And can be flavored with vanilla or cinnamon for an added twist. Melcochas de Natilla is easy to make and delicious. You can customize them with different flavours or toppings to suit your individual preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is The Most Popular Food In Costa Rica?

Gallo Pinto, a dish with rice and beans, is the national dish of Costa Rica. Other popular foods in Costa Rican cuisine include Casado, Ceviche, and empanadas. Fresh fruits such as mangoes, papayas, and pineapples are also widely popular. In coastal areas, seafood dishes like Arroz con Mariscos (rice with seafood) are popular.

2. What Is Costa Rica’s National Dish?

Costa Rica’s national dish is Gallo Pinto. It’s a delicious mix of rice and black beans, typically served with eggs, cheese, and tortillas for breakfast. However, there are many other popular dishes in Costa Rica, such as Casado, Ceviche, and arroz con pollo. Many traditional Costa Rican dishes feature fresh seafood and tropical fruits, making it a culinary paradise for foodies.

3. What Does Costa Ricans Eat For Dinner?

Costa Ricans typically eat a light dinner, often rice and beans, meat or fish, and vegetables. Gallo pinto is a traditional dish with rice and beans often enjoyed for dinner, along with other popular options like casados, Ceviche, and arroz con pollo. For dessert, fresh fruits like papaya and mango are commonly served.

4. What Is The Street Food Of Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers various delicious street foods, including empanadas, tamales, and churros. Gallo pinto, a rice and beans dish, is another typical street food that is a must-try. Other popular options include Ceviche, plantain chips (patacones), and corn cakes (arepas). While enjoying these tasty treats, don’t forget to try local beverages like horchata or refrescos (fruit drinks) to complete your Costa Rican street food experience.

5. What Are Some Traditional Dishes In Costa Rica?

Some traditional dishes in Costa Rica include Gallo Pinto, a rice and beans dish; Casado, a popular lunch dish made with rice, beans, plantains, salad and a choice of meat; and Olla de Carne, a hearty beef soup commonly served for dinner.


After exploring the delicious cuisine of Costa Rica, it is clear that the country is a food lover’s paradise. From traditional dishes like Gallo Pinto and Casado to street food favourites like Chifrijo and Empanadas, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The use of fresh and flavorful ingredients makes every dish genuinely unique and mouthwatering. Popular food in Costa Rican cuisine is a must-try for food enthusiasts.

There is something for everyone, from the classic Gallo Pinto to the unique Palmito Cheese and Salsa Lizano. The variety of dishes reflects the country’s diverse culture and history, from indigenous influences to Caribbean and Spanish flavours. Don’t forget to try the traditional Christmas dish Tamales or indulge in some Melcochas de Natilla for a sweet treat. If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, explore the local food scene and savour the flavours of this beautiful country.

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Popular Foods in Costa Rica

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