Costa Rica Food and Drink
Costa Rica is a not a major foodie destination, but what it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in choice.
The Caribbean coast tends to be more influenced by the island nations. Jamaican-style jerk chicken is a staple; rice and beans (gallo pinto) are ubiquitous, but more likely to be prepared with coconut milk; and curry spices feature heavily as ingredients, creating dishes with a very distinct flavour from their counterparts on the Pacific coast.
The Costa Rican diet is fairly healthy with low use of dairy or high-fat dishes. Fresh fruits and vegetables make up a high proportion of meals, while pork, chicken and beef are the most popular meats. Seafood is available throughout the country, particularly in coastal regions, with sea bass being the most common fish on menus.
Casado: A fixed daily lunch, usually featuring rice, beans, stewed chicken or beef, fried plantain, salad and cabbage.
Olla de carne: Soup of beef, plantain, corn, yucca and chayote.
Sopa negra: Black bean soup with a poached egg in it.
Picadillo: Meat and vegetable stew.
Gallo pinto: Rice and black beans, with sour cream on the side, a local staple.
Bocas: Savoury snacks served at bars or before main meals in restaurants.
Empanadas: Small corn flour pasties filled with cheese, beans and sometimes meat.
Ceviche: Raw fish marinated in lemon juice, chilli, onion and coriander.
Coffee: Usually served black, or mixed half and half with hot milk.
Horchata: Sweet cold drink made of ground rice flavoured with cinnamon and cloves.
Frescos: Fruit drinks made with water and sugar or syrup.
Pipas: Fresh coconut water served in the husk. Found mostly in coastal areas, the green coconuts are served with the tops cut off and a straw. There’s always less in there than you’d think, but they’re great ice cold.
Cebada: Fermented barley; an indigenous beverage.
Pinolillo: Sweetened cold drink made of toasted corn kernels and cocoa.
Batidos: Fresh fruit shakes made with either milk or water blended with ice.
Things to know:
Tipping is not necessary but is acceptable if the service was outstanding; no more than 10% though. Restaurants add a 13% sales tax plus a 10% service charge to the bill.