Gallo pinto

Costa Rican cuisine is tasty yet mild, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables but lacking the fiery flavours found in Mexico or other parts of Latin America. The main staple, gallo pinto, is a simple dish of rice and black beans.

Meal time

The traditional national dish eaten at lunch and dinner is called a casado. Again, it’s rice and beans, usually eaten with meat or chicken and a simple salad. You’ll find it in virtually every restaurant.

Caribbean flavours

On the Caribbean coast the flavours are spiced up and seafood is a
tasty staple — and cheap too. This is the place to indulge in fresh
fish, prawns and lobster.

Other common foods

You’ll also find bananas everywhere. They’re one of the main agricultural exports of the country and also a big part of local cuisine. Often you’ll get a serving a fried banana with your gallo pinto. Other Costa Rican food staples include corn tortillas, white cheese and picadillos.


Everyday drinks

Coffee is another massive export and as such it features prominently. You’ll always be served coffee for breakfast and in the afternoons. Another traditional drink is agua dulce (literally ‘sweet water’), made from sugar cane.


Costa Rica’s national liquor, called guaro, is also made from sugar cane. It’s taken as a fiery shot or mixed with juice or softdrink, and is dirt cheap — meaning it’s led to many a hangover. The national beer is Imperial, a popular and tasty American-style lager.


Unlike the rest of Central America, the water quality in Cost Rica is actually very good. However, it’s still advisable to drink bottled water unless you’re sure you are drinking from a treated supply.