Costa Rican dishes
Picture of Allan Guevara

Allan Guevara

Costa Rican typical Foods You Might Not Find In Restaurants

Costa Rica has many delicious foods that are sadly not present in most of the restaurants in Costa Rica, however most of them offer the casado and gallo pinto in their menu. I will mention some of the typical foods we eat at home in the different areas of the country and where to get them.

Something that can’t me missed on the ticos’ table is the rice and the beans, whether in gallo pinto in the morning, or as casado for lunch or for dinner. 

A Gallo Pinto is made by frying beans and adding onion, paprika, garlic, and cilantro. It can be accompanied by scramble or fried eggs, natilla (sour cream) salchichon (fried chunk of sausage), avocado, and the hard core ones cobine it with meat.

In some places they have a snack-meal called Gallo or Gallito which is a hand made tortilla and a chunk of salchichon, meat or picadillo (the picadillo can be chopped potatoes with ground beef or other variations)

Casados are made of white rice, fried beans, salad. It can be accompanied by eggs, cheese, beef, pork, avocado or fish. This dish can be eaten for lunch, and for dinner.


Tortilla palmeada guanacasteca it is a totally artisanal corn tortilla, cut and made into flour to after make a handmade tortilla that looks naturally yellowish and it it can be found mostly in Guanacaste province. They are sold in supermarkets, houses, sodas, and along the roadside. It can be eaten with scramble eggs, a piece of cheese, a chunk of fried salchichon, and with gallo pinto.



Frito de cerdo, this is made with the head and the organs of a pig, but don’t worry… the eye balls don’t come in the dish. The meat and all of the fat is taking off and cut into little pieces. The organs are also cut and put all together to then cook it slowly for several hours until it gets a thick consistency. In Guanacaste, I tried  a variation but with sprouted corn beans which they call Pozol, this disch can be accompanied with boiled cassava, banana or plantain, and also with hand made tortilla.


Pan de elote is a bread made of corn flour of a brownish color, it is abit sweet and the taste of it is delicious. In places of guanacaste like Nicoya at the bus station Alfaro you can get it on saturdays. I have also seen that in La fortuna, Arenal Volcano area they sell it in some bread stores and in the streets by locals.


Chorreadas are tortillas made of corn, the make the paste the corn must be picked when the grains  are still soft. They can be eaten alone, with cheese or sour cream. This food is mostly found in areas of guanacaste and some typical sodas and restaurants. Some locals offer the corn paste from house to house and the ones who buy it can make the tortillas at home and keep the paste for a couple of days to make them whenever they feel like making a delicious sweet or salty chorriada.

Olla de Carne is a soup to made with bone-in beef and, carrots, cassava, potatoes, challate, paprika, garlic, onion, cilantro and even cabbage. It is believed that this soup has the power to relive those with a very bad hangover therefore it is cooked in sodas on sundays or mondays for lunch. Some people put some hot chile and lemon in it. It comes with a plate of rice and the hardcore ones would even have a couple of beers or liqueur shot during this meal. It is supposed to make you sweat all of the toxins from drinking liqueur or beer.

Some families simply make one for the pleasure of eating together. 


Sopa de pescado con coco is soup made with in the coasts of Costa Rica, it is made mostly with fish bone and heads, and some other put fish meat, specially from red snapper. Vegetables, panamanian hot chile, and coconut milk is also used to make this delicious soup. The soup can be accompanied by white rice. This a dish eaten in family or group of friends. It is believe to have a lot of nutrients and it is also consider a aphrodisiac, some people make fun of guys who eat one of this soups and is single.

Tamales is made with corn flour as the main ingredient, they put rice, potatoes, carrot, onion, anod some kind of meat, usually pork or chicken, thyen wrap the ingredients with corn dough, all of this process is made using banana leaves as a plate big enough to wrap everything, at the end, the tamales are put in pares and tied up to boil them until cooked.

This meals is mostly made in december close to the end of the year, it is sold in ferias and some families make them and offer them from door to door.


Tamal de elote is made by using corn dough, is is sweet and looks like a bread pudding, this can be seen in some bread stores, and at ferias. I have seen it a lot in Nicoya. Mostly on saturdays at the feria on saturdays at the bus station Alfaro.

Rice and beans (caribbean style) this is basically a gallo pinto, the difference is the ingredients used to get such a delicious meal. Coconut milk, panamanian hot chile, thyme, and bay leaves. It is served with chicken, ripe plantains, and a cabbage salad made with with mayonnaise, and tomato. it can be found in some sodas and caribbean restaurants. Some familes make it and sell it to neighbors.


Patí is typical caribbean empanada, it is made with wheat, and filled up with meat cooked with panamanian hot chile, pepper, pepper and some other ingredients. 


Empanadas are made of corn dough, and can be filled up with chicken, beef, cheese, gallo pinto, and other options. It is a deep fried and can be bought almost all over the country in little sodas. Some people make a living out the sell of empanadas selling them in the street. 


Chifrijo is a plate served as a snack (a bit too big for a snack though). It can be found in bars and in some restaurants too. This dish consist in beans cooked with pork meat, rice, pio de gallo on top (chopped tomato with red onion, cilantro and lemon) it brings some fried tortillas inside the plate against the inside edge. It is tradition to eat this with a beer.

Roots of Costa rica's food

I have only mention some traditional foods, the one I think are known the most. Costa Rica has a lot of influence in its foods, some caribbean, and some from other latin countries with native roots, I guess this is why we have a lot of them made with corn. 

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