Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is a breakfast dish made of rice and beans. The cuisine itself has roots in both Costa Rican and Nicaraguan culture, and is typically referred to as just “pinto” by the locals. The rice and beans are mixed together and sometimes paired with other ingredients to give it some flavor and texture, like peppers, cilantro, and onions. When the beans and rice are mixed together, they create some coloring variations that make it look like the rice is speckled. This is how the dish got its name, because gallo pinto means “spotted rooster.”

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Olla de Carne

The hearty olla de carne is a favorite dish that you’ll find being prepared in many homes across the country on any given month of the year. While the stew can be compared to some stew from other cultures, there is usually a set of ingredients that help make it unique in look and taste. Costa Rica is a mecca for fresh ingredients, and these are included for the olla de carne recipe. These ingredients include cassava, carrots, corn, plantains, and taro root. Combined with other vegetables, this stew is full of rich flavors. You aren’t likely to have room for side dishes, but olla de carne (shown as our featured photo, above) is often served with rice and beans.

 Sopa Negra

This traditional black bean soup is filling. Some of the main ingredients include black beans, onion, peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, and spices, along with Tabasco sauce for just a little heat, but more often than not, for more flavor.


This is a dish that ‘marries’ many foods on the same plate.  If you order a casado at a Costa Rican restaurant, you can expect to be served a large plate of food that contains fresh fruit juice, rice, beans, salad, tortillas, fried plantain, and meat (beef, chicken or fish). The location within the country will determine which meat you can choose from.  It is typical to include a whole cooked fish in many areas!

Whole fish Casado


Patacones are deep fried plantains, usually served as a snack, and basically consists of flattening plantains and frying them. Served with some pico de gallo. Patacones make a great appetizer!

Amazing fried Patacones served with black beans

Arroz con Leche

Although flan – a caramelized egg custard pudding, served cold – is often a standard dessert, the Arroz con Leche dessert is also typical.  A simple dessert made with rice and milk, the taste is much more complex and delicious.  Other ingredients include sugar, salt, lemon zest, and cinnamon sticks!

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