Costa Rica’s Tastiest and Cheapest Eats
The culinary delights of Costa Rica extend far beyond your average plate of rice and beans (aka gallo pinto – the national dish). Whether your vacation takes you to the cool mountains of Monteverde or the sultry beaches of Manuel Antonio, you’re sure to find any one of these gastronomic temptations both easy on the wallet and downright delicious! Here are our top picks for the country’s most delectable cheap eats. We hope you enjoy!
Chicharrones (deep fried pork bits)
Chicharrones are the foundation of the chifrijo dish and are a must-eat while in Costa Rica! Diet-friendly they are not, but the taste is out of this world if you love delicately seasoned pork medallions. Another quintessential bar food, these deep fried bits are typically served solo with a wedge of lime and are the ultimate pairing with a Pilsen or Imperial.
Chifrijo (fried pork medley with rice, beans and salsa)
A chifrijo a day may pack on the pounds, but just once in a while, this splurge is totally worth it! The ultimate in bar food, this concoction includes pieces of deep fried pork (with skin), floated on top of beans, rice and a nice tomato pico de gallo. Normally served with tortilla chips and fried yucca, this meal goes hand-in-hand with an ice cold Imperial. Cheers!
Tres Leches (three milks cake)
Costa Rica is not a nation celebrated for its desserts, but with tres leches cake, we must make an exception. Rich, insanely sweet and drenched in three milks (evaporated, regular and condensed), this cake can be purchased by the slice in any local bakery, such as Musmani. It’s the perfect pick-me-up when you need a sugar rush or want a special after dinner treat.
Chorreadas ( a sweet or savory corn pancake)
Satisfy those sinful cravings with a naturally sweet corn pancake, cooked Costa Rican style! Known as chorreadas, these snacks are typically made with nothing more than ground fresh, sweet corn and a bit of vegetable oil. Savory versions of this budget-friendly food (less than $1) include cheese and a hint of garlic.
Empanadas (deep fried or baked turnovers)
For the most authentic empanadas, look no further than your local marketplace where mom and pop restaurants called “sodas” serve these wonderful corn pockets filled with sweet or salty fillings. Choose from beef, cheese, potato, bean or chicken empanadas, or sate your sweet tooth with a pineapple or guava turnover. At around $1, these make for excellent snacks when you’re in between adventure and eco tours.
Patacones (fried green plantains)
Another local favorite, patacones are often served as appetizers or snacks to accompany beer. They are made by slicing, smashing and frying green plantains until golden brown. Crunchy and absolutely scrumptious, they make French fries seem boring and are great dipped in re-fried beans.