Traditional Costa Rican Mixed Plate Costa Rican sodas provide casados, combined food dishes. Fish, chicken, hog, or beef, white rice, black or red beans, two side salads, and fried plantain are usual. This dish’s flavor varies per restaurant, but if it’s packed with locals, you’ve discovered a good one.

Now that you know some Costa Rican foods, try them! These meals will delight foodies and newbies alike.

Delicious Traditional Costa Rican Dishes to Try on Your Next Trip

When traveling to Costa Rica, there are countless things to do and see, but one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture is to try the traditional cuisine. Although Costa Rican cuisine is not as internationally famous as other Latin American cuisines, it has unique flavors that will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the most delicious traditional Costa Rican dishes you must try during your trip.

Gallo Pinto

A Classic Breakfast Dish Gallo Pinto is one of the most popular and beloved dishes in Costa Rica, especially for breakfast. It’s a simple yet satisfying mixture of black beans, white rice, onions, sweet peppers, and cilantro. Although rice and beans are standard in many Central American countries, the way it’s prepared in Costa Rica sets them apart. The name “Gallo Pinto” translates to “painted rooster” in English, which refers to the dish’s speckled appearance.


A Hearty Bar Food If you’re looking for a filling and satisfying snack, Chifrijo is a perfect choice. It’s a popular bar food that originated in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Chifrijo is made by layering rice, beans, fresh pico de gallo, and fried chunks of meat (usually pork) in a bowl and then topped with tortilla chips, jalapeno peppers, and sometimes sliced avocado. This dish is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a hearty meal without committing to a full-sized entree.


A Refreshing Seafood Dish Ceviche is a refreshing seafood dish perfect for a hot day at the beach. This raw dish is made with fish, shrimp, or a mixture of seafood, which is then marinated in lime juice that “cooks” and tenderizes the seafood. The dish is completed with cilantro, finely chopped onions, and sweet peppers to create fresh flavors.

Arroz Con Pollo

A Flavorful Rice Dish Arroz con Pollo is a popular rice dish eaten for lunch and sometimes dinner in Costa Rica. It’s a pan-fried rice dish with different seasonings, vegetables, and shredded chicken. This dish resembles Chinese fried rice but has distinct Latin American flavors. It’s typically served with a side salad and French fries, making it a satisfying and filling meal.


A Festive Seasonal Treat is a festive seasonal treat commonly offered during holidays, especially Christmas. In Costa Rica, tamales are made with a corn-based filling (masa) and contain small pieces of vegetables and meat. The filling is then folded in a banana leaf and steamed in boiling water. Depending on the region and household, tamales can vary significantly in taste and preparation. Some tamales may have a simple corn filling with small chunks of pork and chicken, while others may have a more complex mixture of masa, potatoes, carrots, olives, peas, capers, and smoked ham.


When traveling in Costa Rica, visit local restaurants and soda stands to try these dishes. You may even want to take a cooking class to learn how to make these dishes and continue enjoying them when you return home.

When visiting this beautiful country, trying traditional Costa Rican dishes is a must-do experience. From the delicious rice and beans in Gallo Pinto to the savory and filling Casados, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Costa Rica today and start exploring the unique flavors of this beautiful country!


When visiting this gorgeous nation, enjoy traditional Costa Rican foods. Everyone may enjoy Gallo Pinto, Chifrijo, Ceviche, and Arroz with Pollo.

These foods give a distinct and savory experience lasting long after your vacation. To experience Costa Rican culture, sample as many native meals as possible.

Visit local restaurants, soda shops, and culinary classes to learn how to create and enjoy these delicacies after your trip. Costa Rican gastronomy is a must-try for foodies and adventurers.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gallo Pinto?

Gallo Pinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast dish with black beans, white rice, onions, sweet peppers, and cilantro.

What is Chifrijo?

Chifrijo, a popular Costa Rican bar snack, is a bowl of rice, beans, fresh pico de gallo, and fried pig pieces topped with tortilla chips, jalapenos, and avocado.

What is Ceviche?

Ceviche is a popular Costa Rican dish with raw fish or seafood, lime juice, cilantro, finely chopped onions, and sweet peppers. The acidity of the lime juice “cooks” and tenderizes the fish.

What is Arroz con Pollo?

Arroz con Pollo is a traditional Costa Rican dish with pan-fried rice, different seasonings, vegetables, and shredded chicken.

What are Tamales?

Tamales, a Central American cuisine from Costa Rica, are created with a corn-based filling (masa) and tiny pieces of vegetables and meat wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked or steamed in boiling water.

When can you find Tamales in Costa Rica? Tamales are a seasonal treat offered around different holidays, especially Christmas.

What is Casados?

Casados are mixed plates of food found in every soda (small local restaurant) in Costa Rica, including a protein (fish, chicken, pork, or beef), white rice, black or red beans, and a couple of different side salads, and a piece of fried plantain.

Where can I try traditional Costa Rican dishes?

Traditional Costa Rican dishes can be found at local restaurants, soda stands, and markets nationwide. Taking a cooking class to make these dishes yourself is also great.

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