Costa Rica Food
Costa Rica is kind of a food lovers paradise. There are tons of amazing restaurants from all cultures (there are a lot of foreigners here) but also tons of local food options as well. Basically, there is something for everyone.
Costa Rica Traditional Food
Have you ever eaten tamales? What about ceviche? Patacones? These are just a few of the unique foods you can try in Costa Rica.
Find out all our favorites in our guide to traditional Costa Rican foods.
Some of our favorites are….
Gallo Pinto is a mix of rice and beans. Every person and area of the country tweaks the recipe a bit with adding onions, bell peppers, cilantro, etc.
This is typically eaten for breakfast (but honestly, people kind of eat it whenever).
It is the most traditional food and a must have while here.
Patacones are made from deep fried plantains. They are typically served with a dip on the side or served with toppings.
On their own I find them to be a bit dry, so a dip or topping are a necesity.
We like to get these at traditional restaurants as an appetizer.
A casado is the typical lunch meal here in Costa Rica. It typically consists of rice, beans, a vegetable, a protein, and sometimes fried plantains.
If you are sticking to a budget, this is usually the most affordable item you will find on a menu, and I find it delicious!
Ceviche is made with uncooked fish that is soaked in fresh citrus juice. The juice basically cooks the fish. Usually red onion, cilantro, and red pepper is added.
In Costa Rica, it is possible to enjoy fish or seafood ceviche.
This is a great light meal or appetizer option.
Traditional Holiday Meals
For Christmas, the traditional meal in Costa Rica is tamales.
These are made with corn meal and other items that are folded into a banana leaf and then boiled.
You then peal the banana leaf off to enjoy the filling inside.
Although this is traditionally a Christmas food, you can buy tamales at any time of the year in most grocery stores. We love them and definitely suggest you try them.
Find out more with our guide to holidays in Costa Rica.
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Crazy Costa Rican Fruits
One of our favorite things to do in Costa Rica is to go to the farmers market and find some crazy fruits that we have never seen before.
Almost every larger town in the country has a weekly farmers market where you can buy interesting treats.
Check out our guide to fruit in Costa Rica for some must try items.
Costa Rican Coffee
I feel like it is a requirement that you drink some delicious Costa Rican coffee while here.
One of our favorite ways to really soak in the coffee drinking experience is by going on a coffee farm tour.
Usually these tours teach you the entire production and growing process. Plus, they typically come with all the free coffee you could ever want to drink.
Find out more with our guide to Costa Rican coffee tours.
Cacao and Chocolate
Do you love chocolate? In Costa Rica it is possible to take a cacao tour and see how chocolate is made.
This is the perfect activity for people of all ages and most tours include tons of chocolate eating.
What more could you want?
Find out about all the best tours in our chocolate tour guide.
Restaurants in Costa Rica
There are restaurants in Costa Rica for all budgets and food interests.
If you are interested in eating all Costa Rican cuisine, that is of course possible. But the country is actually home to so many foreigners that you can find authentic delicious food from almost any country.
Personally, we suggest eating some fresh fish while here.
Anyway, check out our guide to restaurants for more info and keep in mind that all of our destination guides include restaurant suggestions for all budgets.
Costa Rican Beer
Are you a beer lover? The national beers of Costa Rica are basically the equivalent of Budweiser, but have no fear! There are plenty of great craft beers as well.
You can buy these craft beers in grocery stores or in nice craft breweries throughout the country.
You can find out more about Costa Rican beer in our Costa Rican guide to beer.
Beach bars are always a good idea. I mean, sitting in a comfy chair on the beach with cocktail in hand just screams “I’m on vacation!.” haha.
Check out our guide to the best beach bars in Costa Rica for all of our favorites.
If you are staying at a villa or VRBO with a kitchen, you might want to do your own cooking.
There are grocery stores located throughout the country in all larger towns.
If you are in a remote area, you may have to settle for a smaller convenience store.
However, have no fear! These small stores have all the basic things you need such as vegetables, rice, pasta, beans, and some meat.
Find out all about grocery stores with our grocery store guide.
All Inclusive Resorts
Sometimes you need a good all-inclusive resort experience to enjoy all the food and drinks you could possibly want.
Check out our guide to all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica for some of the best spots in the country.
If you decide to go on a deep sea fishing tour while in Costa Rica, you will most likely be able to take some fish home with you.
If you are staying at a hotel, ask your fishing tour captain if they know any good restaurants in the area that can cook up your fish for you.
You can find out more about fishing in Costa Rica here.
The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is one of the few Blue Zones in the world.
This means that people here live longer than in most other places in the world.
A big part of that is believed to be due to their diet.
People here eat a diet high in fresh vegetables, fish, rice, and beans.
I get it, if you have food allergies or sensitivities it can be a bit overwhelming traveling in a foreign country.
I have a severe shellfish allergy, so I get you.
If you are gluten free, Costa Rica might be perfect for you. It is always possible to get a casado that doesn’t have any gluten.
If you have an allergy, I suggest making a card to carry in your wallet stating your allergy. Show this to the waiter at any restaurant so they can assure that you don’t eat anything that could cause you harm.
Here is a great one I found that you can print out and fill in.
Easy Meals to Make
As I mentioned above, all larger grocery stores have everything you could need for cooking.
However, if you are in a more remote area you may only have a few options at the local small grocery store.
Also, keep in mind that a lot of kitchens have a stove top, but some do not have an oven.
Here are a few easy meals we usually make while in a remote area without many options. All of these can be made using just a stovetop.
Pasta salad – Buy a bag of pasta, whatever vegetables you want, some seasoning, and mayo. Cook your pasta, strain, and rinse with cold water. Chop of your vegetables and add to your pasta. Add some mayo and seasoning. Stir all together and you have a nice simple meal.
Tacos – You can always buy soft taco shells at any store. We like to cook up some peppers, onions, whatever protein we find and then stuff our taco shell with it. We usually add some cheese and fresh vegetables for a good meal. You can also always buy a can of black beans if you would like a side dish.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup – All grocery stores sell bread, butter, sliced cheese, and cans of tomato soup. When we want a quick meal and don’t care about it being healthy, this is our go-to.
Still Looking for food info?
Check out our Destination Guides for the area of the country you are visiting. Each Destination Guide includes a section on restaurants for all budgets.