Newest, beautiful, single women now added for week of Wednesday, 29 March, 2023 - Tuesday, 4 April, 2023
Your opportunities here are truly worldwide. Explore our site deeply to see how you can realize that!

Experiencing Authentic Costa Rican Food in San Jose

A photo of a traditional Costa Rican snack
Trying out cultural cuisines is one of the best ways for you to immerse yourself into a culture.

“The thing I absolutely love about food is it’s a common thread that connects us no matter what culture we come from.” - Poh Ling Yeow

Food culture refers to the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that surround the preparation and consumption of food. It represents our cultural heritage while also acting as a link to those who are not part of our immediate society.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in a community, diving into its culinary tradition is a great place to start.

Costa Rican Culinary Influences

Costa Rican food is a lively fusion of indigenous culture and Spanish colonial influences.

Pre-colonization, the majority of the local food influence came from what are now referred to as their indigenous communities.

Many of their dishes are very common, such as tortillas and pancake-like chorreadas, while porridges and drinks made from maiz pujagua, or purple corn, are more regional.

Spanish colonialism ripped across the Caribbean coast like a storm, as it did most Central American countries. The Spaniards then cleared the land and planted traditional Spanish crops. About the same time, coffee was brought to Costa Rica for the first time.

Many of today’s modern cultural dishes are simply Spanish cuisines made with locally grown ingredients, distinguishing it from other cultures in Central America.

Costa Rican Coffee

While coffee isn’t technically considered food, it’s an insult to discuss Costa Rican cuisine without discussing their coffee.

Costa Rica is one of the world’s largest coffee producers, accounting for around 1% of global production. That says a lot for a country the size of most American states.

Costa Rica is also the world’s only coffee-producing country to pass legislation requiring the production of only Arabica coffee, arguably the best coffee variety. This will encourage farmers to concentrate on crop yield quality rather than quantity. To put it another way, bad coffee is against the law.

A photo of Costa Rican Coffee
Costa Rican coffee is among the best in the world as farmers are encouraged to pursue quality over quantity.

Arabica beans are more difficult to produce, but the result is a mature and rich flavor.

The journey from seedling to fresh brew in your cup can take up to four years. All is done by hand, from planting to picking the coffee cherries.

Despite the fact that coffee processing techniques have been modernized, Costa Rican farmers prefer traditional methods because they allow for better quality control.

Iconic Cuisines

Because of their common influences, some Costa Rican dishes are similar to those of other Latin American countries. Costa Rica, on the other hand, is known for its use of fresh, locally sourced produce.

  1. Gallo Pinto
  • Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua say the gallo pinto rice and bean variety, which is usually flavored with bell peppers, cilantro, and onions.

    Though it’s also known as pinto, the term “spotted rooster” refers to the spots of beans that contrast against the white rice. For breakfast, it’s often served with a fried egg and sweet fried plantain, and for lunch and dinner, it’s often served as a side dish with meat or fish.

    However, since some crops are seasonal, there are subtle differences in the dish across the region. Costa Rican cuisine, as previously said, is based on fresh produce, so they prefer to use crops that are readily available.

A photo of Gallo Pinto
A traditional dish in Costa Rica consisting of Rice and beans, often using Black Beans.
  1. Casado
  • A typical Costa Rican lunch plate is the casado, which translates to “married man.” There is no particular recipe, similar to a Full English Breakfast, just a general mix of clearly prepared vegetables and a protein.

White rice, beans, coleslaw, or an iceberg lettuce and tomato salad may accompany grilled salmon, stewed beef, pork chops, or fried chicken.

People can add fried plantain, avocado slices, tortillas, or a fried egg, depending on the area and season.

Casado, traditional meal similar to a Full english breakfast.
Casado takes its name from the tradition that this is what most married men eat for breakfast when they get married.
  1. Ceviche
  • Unlike its Peruvian counterpart, Costa Rican ceviche uses fish that has been marinated in lime juice for at least an hour in the fridge rather than just seconds, resulting in a more opaque, milder raw fish flavor.

    It’s usually made with peeled shrimp or solid white fish like sea bass, but it can also be made with chuchecas (blood clams) and a mixture of finely chopped or minced onions, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro. Many locals swear by a squirt of ketchup or tabasco on their food.

A photo of freshly made Ceviche
A unique take on the usual Ceviche that marinates seafood for hours with Lime Juice
  1. Picadillos
  • These simple mixtures of chopped vegetables, onions, stock, herbs, and other seasonings sauteed in fat are a true representation of Costa Rica’s agricultural bounty.

    Squash picadillo, green beans vainitas, chayote, arracache (arracacha), papa (potato), and even fruits like papaya are all named after the primary vegetable used.

    A picadillo becomes a full meal when eaten over white rice with ground beef or chorizo, or on corn tortillas to make gallos (Costa Rica’s version of a taco).

A photo of Picadillos
Traditional dish that uses fresh produce locally sourced from Costa Rican farms.
  1. Copo (Shaved Ice)
  • On plazas and beaches in Costa Rica, kiosks and roving carts sell copos or granizados, a local variety of shaved ice.

    On top of the cups or cones, everything from milk powder and flavored syrups to fresh fruit and marshmallows is sprinkled.T

    The Churchill is the most well-known version of this Costa Rican dessert, named after a man in Puntarenas who looked a lot like Winston Churchill and who ate his copo with bright red kola syrup and condensed milk.

A photo of Copo, a Costa Rican version of Shaved Ice
Tropical version of the popular shaved ice commonly using fresh seasonal fruits.

Where should you eat?

It’s best to eat where the locals eat to get a true sense of the culinary scene. This means that the dishes are both clean and delicious, as well as providing you with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn about the culture.

Sodás is the place to go if you want to try traditional Costa Rican cuisine. They’re the equivalent of diners or lunch counters in the area. Most of the time, they serve regional specialties as well as more traditional set meals such as Casados.

At roadside fruit stands, there are plenty of fresh fruits to choose from. Common fruits like mangoes and bananas are plentiful, but on a lucky day, you could come across much rarer fruits like the Manzana de Agua, Guanabana, Carambola, and others.

The Future of the Costa Rican food culture

The revitalized culinary scene is still in its early stages, but it’s increasingly expanding to the jungles and beaches, where pop-ups, surf cafes, and inventive street-food vendors demonstrate that they’d rather work with the country’s natural bounty than cater to tourists’ unsustainable demands.

Newest, beautiful, single women now added for week of Wednesday, 29 March, 2023 - Tuesday, 4 April, 2023
Your opportunities here are truly worldwide. Explore our site deeply to see how you can realize that!