Eating in Costa Rica
What and Where to Eat?
In this blog we will introduce you to some of the most highly recommended local eateries, delicacies and restaurants in Costa Rica. Vacationers in Costa Rica enjoy many healthy outdoor activities, some participating in thrilling events, tanning in the warm tropical sunshine, or simply soaking-up the soothing therapy offered from a volcanic-mineral infused hot spring. Eventually, everyone works-up a hefty appetite and this is a good place to be when that happens. The food in Costa Rica is exquisite, the choices are many, and the cost encourages you to go back for more. Entertain those pangs of hunger with mouth-watering tropical delicacies and some from other countries as well. The big decision is, “What and where to eat?”
Good restaurants and places to dine are everywhere in Costa Rica. Meals are hygienically prepared, most seasonings are natural, and there is always a Tico willing to provide advice if you are unsure. Much of what you will eat here is produced locally, fresh from the fields, farms, and the sea. Some dishes are similar to those available in the many countries that import Costa Rica’s tropical produce. The indigenous dishes of Costa Rica are well worth sampling, many travelers return home with produce prepared for export and recipes to recreate meals they have come to love during their stay. The names may sound unusual at first but soon they will roll off the tip of your tongue.
Agriculture accounts for 6.5% of the gross domestic production (GDP) of the country.
Therefore, it is a major industry that employs many in Costa Rica. Fruits, vegetables, and livestock are produced for both local consumption and exported worldwide. Ticos will introduce new crops to visitors, willingly providing a brief history, and all the details on its preparation and benefits. Whether dining casually at a Surf-Shop Café, a soda, or enjoying an elegant evening at fine restaurant, visitors enjoy Costa Rica’s delicacies prepared to perfection.
Fruit & Vegetables
A Short-list of Items Grown in Costa Rica
Many varieties of mangoes
Anona (a fruit AKA Bullocks Heart or Ox’s Heart) from the Custard Apple family.
Carambola (Star Fruit, avoid if you have any kidney problems)
Caimitos (another star shaped fruit on the inside when cut open)
Yuca / Casava
Granadillas (Passion Fruit)
Maranon (Cashew the flesh is fine, the seed must be roasted before eating),
Maracuya (the purple passion fruit)
Mamon Chino (Chinese Sucker)
Palmita (Heart of Palm Fruit)
Rambutan (a type of Lychee)
-and other fruits and vegetables.
The fresh coffee, vegetables, and fruits are farmed all year long in Costa Rica and enjoyed here and all over the world. Along the streets will be farmers selling the fresh fruit drinks and pieces of freshly picked fruits to quench your thirst.
The Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Oceans provide an abundance of fresh seafood daily in the markets. Mussels, oysters, and cockles; shrimp, and crayfish; game fish, or rosy-red snappers; lobsters, and crabs; the choice is yours and expert chefs await your orders. Costa Ricans have some unusual methods of preparing some spectacular dishes. Take a dish like Ceviche, that is a favourite of tourists and local which is typically prepared using fresh seafood, seasoned with natural spices, and then marinated to doneness in the juice of ripe lime and served with tacos.
Livestock and its by-products are distributed overseas to international tables. Exported on a lesser scale than agriculture, it is still a significant income earner and provides top-quality meat and poultry choices for the local market.
Small local roadside eateries called ‘sodas’ provide wonderful local cuisine at a lower cost than a meal at a hotel or upscale restaurants. These lower cost of meals sacrifices nothing in taste. It is easy to spot a good “soda” because it is usually the one most frequented by Ticos, They will guide your menu selections if asked. Most meals are served with a compliment of ‘Rice and Beans’ as the staple starch, and freshly prepared vegetables. Rice and Beans is made by firstly extracting the milk from the flesh of the dried-coconut; grate the cubed dried flesh, rehydrate it with water, and then squeeze the juice through a sieve p to remove the pulp from the juice which is then used to boil the rice and Pinto Beans. Add some thyme, scallion, and peppers, to the coconut milk before slow cooking until the liquid is completely reduced. The finished dish, ‘Gallo Pinto’ or rice and beans, can be a side to most meals. A favorite mine is the typical breakfast where the rice and beans is served along with scrambled eggs, onions and tomatoes, slices of toast or tortillas, cooked plantains, and a steamy mug of coffee.
Kids Meals & More
Children can be finicky eaters at the best of times. Costa Ricans love catering to kids.. In addition there are many North American franchises. According to the Tico Times, a popular Costa Rican English tabloid available online, there are currently 171 ‘foreign franchises’ operating in over 900 stores in Costa Rica. Not all of those are involved in the food industry. Many are from countries other than North America. However, KFC, Carls Jr., McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, Quizno’s, and many other US franchises have locations throughout Costa Rica
Generally the dress code is casual for dining but will vary depending on the location. It ranges from very casual to formal. Call ahead for reservations and advice on the dress code if unsure.