3 Must Eats While Traveling in Costa Rica

We all know that Costa Rica is famous for its incredible bio diversity. It is also famous because it offers tours and hotels for every taste and age in all of its touristic regions. What not many people know is that it offers a very interesting and tasty gastronomy. So this week I’ll give you some information as well as the recipe of Costa Rica’s most representative dishes.

Discover the best traditional dishes to eat in Costa Rica. 


1. Gallo pinto


Gallo Pinto is the most traditional Costa Rican dish there is! Costa Ricans serve it mainly for breakfast, but that doesn’t keep them from having it at any given moment. There will always be Gallo Pinto to serve!

It’s not only tasty, but it’s also healthy, filling, super easy to make and it is also a great dish for everyone can eat it: kids, adults, vegetarians, and vegans. This is how it’s done:


3 cups cooked rice (day old for the true Tico way)
2 cups cooked black beans (day old for the true Tico way)
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped (cilantro)
2 tablespoons oil
Salt to taste


Frying pan
Mixing spoon

Cook It Up!

Saute onion and bell pepper in oil on medium heat. Add beans and cook two minutes longer. Add rice and mix, cook three minutes more. Add coriander, mix well.

Serve it up!

Most Costa Ricans eat it with lots of sour cream.

2. Arroz con pollo


I’ve lived in Central America for many years now and I dare to say that there isn’t a more typical Latino dish out there. I have learned that practically every Latin and Hispanic country has their own version of this tasty plate. This is how he Tico version of Arroz con pollo is made:


2 large chicken breasts
3 cups rice
1 onion,finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small can of peas
3 carrots, diced
1/2 pound of string beans, sliced
1/4 teaspoon of achiote (paprika)
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste


Large cooking pot
frying pan

Cook It Up!

Fill the cooking pot with 4 cups of water and place the chicken, half of the onion and half of the bell pepper and salt. Cook until chicken is tender.
Let cool.

Strain the juice into the bowl and add another 2 cups of water.
Discard the bones of the chicken and shred it up.

In a frying pan heat up the oil with achiote and saute the rest of the onion and bell pepper.
Place the juice with the extra water into the soup pot again, add rice, the shredded chicken, and the sauteed onion and pepper. Cook until rice is done.

Serve it Up!

This dish, like all other Tico creations, is served with the cabbage salad and tortillas.

3. Olla de carne Meat Stew and Soup


This is one of those recipes that is different in every home and is passed from one generation to the next. This recipe for the typical OLLA DE CARNE was given to me by a close Tica friend. This is how it goes:


2 kg of beef meat prepared with salt and sour orange in big pieces with no fat.
2 corncobs chopped in pieces.
12 cups of water
2 bay leaves
2 chayotes chopped in four pieces
Towards the end add:
2 cups of water
250 gr. Of carrots cut into pieces
1 big onion chopped in four
1 sweet and red chile
3 garlic
1 roll of coriander
1 branch of celery
4 teaspoons of salt
After taking the meat out and chopping it into small pieces
500 gr. Yuca chopped into pieces
500 gr. potatoes peeled
500 gr. sweet potato peeled chopped into pieces
1 Plantain almost ripe chopped into pieces
500 gr. ripe ayote with skin chopped into pieces
Lemon (Optional)
Tortilla (Optional
Bread (Optional)


Cooking Pot

Cook it up!

In a big bowl heat up the beef, the corncobs the water and the bay leaves. When it starts to boil turn down the heat to minimum, cover the bowl and cook until it gets soft.

Cooking time is approximately 2 hours. Mixing it once in a while. At the end add the chayotes. 2 cups of water, 250 gr. Of carrots cutted in pieces 1 big onion chopped in four, 1 sweet and red chile, 3 garlic, 1 roll of coriander, 1 branch of celery, salt.

Blend all the ingredients and add them. In the moment that it starts to boil again, take out the meat and cut it in to smaller pieces and put it back in to the bowl.

After add the yuca, the potatoes, the sweet potato, and plantain. Let everything boil, approximately for another 30 min. with the bowl covered.

At the very end add the ayote and let it boil for another 10 min.

Remove the bowl from the heat and serve it up.

Suggestion: You can drain the vegetable stock.

For 6 or 8 portions

Serve it up!

You can add some coriander branches to add a little bit of color and pleasant smell and a few drops of lemon if you like.

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About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

2 Responses to 3 Must Eats While Traveling in Costa Rica

  1. Daria says:

    Yum! Now I’m hungry 🙂
    Daria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – A Boy & His DogMy Profile

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