Having spent time in Texas I thought I was in for the same type of food in Costa Rica. I was wrong. Costa Rica is NOT the same as Mexico. That may seem obvious but many people come here expecting to eat Mexican food.
The cuisine here is very unique. In most local restaurants, called sodas, the menus are almost the same. Costa Rican’s have special dishes that everybody likes and they are not very adventurous eaters.
The food is generally fried in oil and is almost never spicy. Spicy sauces will be on the table if you’d like to opt for them. Casados, or typical plates, include meat, rice, beans, and vegetables or salad of cabbage and mayonnaise. This plate along with a fresco, or juice made from fruit and water, will cost only $3-5. The majority of the plate will be rice and beans with small portions of vegetables and even smaller of meat.
Costa Rican’s eat in small proportions except for at lunch time. A typical breakfast might be gallo pinto (rice with black beans) and natilla (sour cream) or it may be just bread with butter or cheese along with coffee. They drink coffee at many times throughout the day but in small cups at a time. Dinner may be a soup or some fruits served plain or with salt. It may also include snack type foods like corn tortillas with cheese. Special holiday foods include tamales for Christmas and torta chilena as birthday cake.
Caribbean food is different than in the rest of the country. The rice contains coconut milk and sometimes red beans are used instead of black ones. They eat more seafood and more fruits than in most of the country. If you get to the Caribbean coast try some cevichi (raw fish in lime juice) and pati (spicy meat turnovers).
By Kerry La