Must-Try Food in Costa Rica

A warm dish beside a cup of coffee at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel
A warm dish served at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel
A Dish served outdoors at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel
Closeup of a dish served at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel
Closeup of a dish served at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel

Eating Good Food in a Tropical Paradise

Beyond the cool surf spots and lush rainforests of Costa Rica, you’ll find some of the best dishes a foodie can enjoy. That’s because the food scene in Costa Rica is a foodie’s delight. From bountiful breakfasts to delicate desserts, there are a ton of mouth-watering dishes you can savor over. Check out these cultural specialties and give them a try the next time you’re visiting Costa Rica:

Chorreadas con Natilla

Breakfast time is one of the best times to feast on a tasty, sweet treat like Chorreadas con Natilla. This dish is essentially blended corn mixed pancakes prepared with oil and milk and fried. It’s topped with Natilla, which is a creamy sauce that’s sour. Chorreadas con Natilla is an inexpensive dish that you can easily fill up on before lunchtime, too.

Sopa Negra

When you’re traveling in the elevated regions of the country, consider starting off your day with a warm cup of sopa negra. This traditional black bean soup is typically served when you are feeling ill. Think of it as Costa Rica’s answer to the traditional American chicken soup. It’s served as a meal to help you feel better, but it can also double as breakfast. It also works as an appetizer since you typically have it with a side of corn tortillas, boiled eggs and rice.

bowl of sopa negra

Gallo Pinto

Start off your day in Costa Rica with a breakfast that’s an everyday staple in Costa Rica called the gallo pinto. This rice and black bean dish is a variant of the traditional casado dish but prepared with bell peppers and cilantro. The locals dine on it during breakfast time as it’s often served with plantains and eggs. But don’t be surprised if you see it served for lunch or dinner, either. Queso fresco and tortillas are also served along with gallo pinto.

Gallo pinto


When it comes to lunchtime, no other dish is more requested than casado. This traditional Costa Rican dish marries rice and black beans with a protein of your choice, such as a slowly-cooked beef, steamed tilapia or grilled chicken. You can even dine on a Costa Rican-Caribbean version of casado that includes kidney beans, coconut milk, rice and thyme alongside patacones or fried plantains. While it’s typically served for lunch, you can have it for dinner, too. 

rice black beans and chicken


Desserts are a delicacy in Costa Rica, and pejibayes are some of the best desserts you will find around town. A pejibaye is a delicious snack that is essentially a peach palm fruit. It tastes similar to an artichoke or potato and squash, yet it has a touch of flavor that can be addictive, too. It’s served with coffee and topped with mayonnaise, and locals typically prepare it by boiling it in lightly salted water. Modern preparation methods also include pureeing or blending it in a creamy soup. It’s the daily dessert delight that adds the perfect finishing touch to satisfy your Costa Rican cuisine curiosity.



Tamales are a traditional staple in Costa Rica that are great whether you have them during Christmas time or just as an appetizer for lunch. They’re made from corn flour, and you’ll find tamales as a tasty surprise encasing meats such as pork or chicken and vegetables, including onions and carrots.


Queque Navideño

Costa Rican cuisine calls for queque navideño during Christmas time. This traditional Christmas cake is a sweet fruitcake that’s soaked in rum for up to weeks at a time and prepared with dried fruit. It’s baked in the oven but is a delightful treat to have when you’re visiting during the holidays. Costa Rica has tons to explore, and the food the country has to offer is just as exciting to try. Take a chance and enjoy every bite of these traditional and unique dishes the next time you’re in Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Queque for Christmas