When you vacation in Costa Rica, you’ll be immersed in a warm, welcoming culture and surrounded by the natural beauty of one of the world’s still largely undiscovered Paradises. You’ll be charmed by the friendliness of the locals, usually referred to as Ticos. And when it comes to dining, you’ll find the Costa Rican cuisine, or tipico, your most affordable option although you certainly won’t suffer from a lack of culinary choices.
Especially in San Jose, your dining choices will range from classic Costa Rican to European to, at Tin Jo’s, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even Indian. As the Costa Rican tourism industry develops, the number of dining alternatives will increase as well. You, however, may be a traveler who loves authentic dining experiences, and if you intend to eat Costa Rican, here’s some of what you can expect:
Expect lots and lots of rice and beans. Rice and beans are the Costa Rican equivalent of American French fries or British chips, except that they show up at breakfast (where they’re referred to as galla pinto) as well as at lunch and dinner. When they show up on the breakfast menu, they may be accompanied by eggs, some sort of meat, or even seafood. At lunch, which is the biggest meal of the day for Costa Ricans, expect to see them with fried or mashed plantains, a salad (cabbage, carrot, and tomato salads are popular) and beef, pork or chicken.
Costa Rica has become a significant beef producer, you won’t have any trouble finding steaks, but don’t expect them to be the tender, melt-in-your mouth variety of corn-fed beef you may be accustomed to. The cattle in Costa Rica are raised on pastures carved out of the rain forests.
If you order a beef dish, expect it to be somewhat chewy. You can avoid the extra effort involved in chewing by having your beef in stew form as olla de carne combined with plantains, yuca (a root vegetable, not the cactus), potatoes, and carrots.
The sot of Costa Rican cuisine you’ll have a available will vary depending on which part of the country you’re visiting. Along the Caribbean coast, for example, you’ll be served dishes made with wonderful fresh tropical fruits, like papayas, bananas, pineapples, and mangoes, flavored with coconut milk and curry or ginger. One characteristic breakfast is made of boiled akee, a yellow fruit which when cooked looks like scrambled eggs, and is served with salted cod. Make sure you don’t leave Costa Rica without treating yourself to a hearts of palm salad!
Costa Rica, with its two coasts, is a seafood lover’s delight, and a visit to San Jose will provide you with plenty of opportunities to dine on an appetizer of cheviche (fresh raw fish marinated in a mixture of cilantro, onions, and fresh lemon juice. San Jose restaurants specialize in sea bass and swordfish, but the closer to you get to either Costa Rican cost, the greater your seafood options will be. Both lobster and shrimp are readily available throughout Costa Rica.
You’ll never have food any fresher than that served at the small family-run restaurants throughout the country, because much of the produce is grown on the premises. Vegetarians in particular will appreciate their choice of vegan restaurants, or the wonderful refrescos, blended fresh fruit drinks, sold at most restaurants and sodas, Costa Riva’s version of diners.
While the Ticos like their coffee weak and sugary, you can get a stronger blend at your hotel, the ground of which may either be, or have been, an authentic coffee plantation. Most Costa Rican water is perfectly safe to drink, but if you’re concerned, you’ll have no difficulty finding bottled water.
When it comes to dining through out Costa Rico, putting it simply, the typical Tico tipico is sure to delight you!
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