Main dishes in Costa Rica

Costa Rican dish

©Victoria Reay/flickr

Costa Rica’s cuisine is similar to any other Caribbean countries’ cuisine which means that the basic ingredients are black beans and rice accompanied with fresh fruit and vegetables. In general one would say that the countries main dishes are simple but heavy in species and in oil. Garlic, herbs and other blends season the typical dishes. In the following, we are going to list the main dishes of the country, to help you learn a little bit more about its cuisine and in order to know what to expect from a lunch or dinner in Costa Rica.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto


To generalize a Costa Rican breakfast we would have to talk about rice and black beans mixed together served with natilla( sour cream), eggs and fried plantain. This food is called as Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica’s National dish. It is a protein reach meal for the beginning of the day and also for a drink one would choose a cup of coffee or fruit juice.


Casado as a main dish


A typical lunch in Costa Rica is Cassado which is very similar to the Gallo Pinto. De only difference is that the beans and rice are served separately side by side and it consists of meat which can be chicken, beef or fish. Other basic ingredients of the dishes are: fried plantation, cheese and salad.  This meal is also served as a dinner and because it is a low cost, protein full meal it is very popular in Costa Rica.

Arroz Con Pollo (rice with chicken)

Arroz con Pollo with green beans

©Family O’Abe/flickr

Arroz Con Pollo is a classic dish in Costa Rica, however it originates from Spain. It is popular in Latin America and in the Caribbean countries; there are plenty of ways of preparing it, however the best way of serving if it is accompanied with salad made with beets, boiled eggs with mayo and potato. The basic ingredients of Arroz Con Pollo are: olive oil, chicken, flour, salt, black pepper, paprika, onion, garlic, pinch of oregano, rice and tomato paste.

Soups and Stews

Black bean soup

©Wes Rogers/flickr

There are also traditional soups and stews in Costa Rica, some of them are: Olla de Carne: made of beef, carrots, chayote, potatoes, plantains and yucca. Sopa negra, known as black bean soup, consists of black beans, oil, salt, eggs, coriander leaf, onion, garlic and pepper. There are many variations of Sopa de Mondongo in Costa Rica, and the way of preparing it also depends on which part of the country you are exploring, however there are the basics which one would found in every soup are: tripe, bell peppers, carrots, onions, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, cilantro, and root vegetables.

Vegetables and fruits

Tres Leches cake


Because vegetables and fruits are the main ingredients of almost every dishes we compiled a list of them with the most interesting ones: zucchini(courgette) , zapallo, chayote, ayote, and regarding to the fruits: zapotes, Guanábanas,pipas, pejibaye, manzana de agua, palmito, and carambola are the most popular ones.

There are a huge variety of corn dishes: corn soup(pozol) and chorreadas( corn pancakes) are the most traditional ones.

The most popular desserts are Arroz con Leche,(rice with milk) where the rice is cooked in the milk and added with sugar and cinnamon. The other one is Tres Leches cake with whipped cream on the top of it. Fruit salads with tropical fruits are also well known as desserts.





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