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Rickshaw Travel
Costa Rica, Panama & Nicaragua
Costa Rican flag on the beach

Alice’s Costa Rican C-Foods

The food in Costa Rica last month was one of the hugely memorable parts of my trip. Pretty impressive really as I also walked through the clouds in the forest treetops, braved an exhilarating 1.3 km zipline back down to earth and was blown away by the unexpected opportunity to watch baby turtles hatch and embark on their precarious race down to the water’s edge (don’t forget to breathe!). Plus the colourful tree frogs, beautiful song of the black-faced solitaire and myriad other wildlife wonders that crossed my path… Not wanting anyone who is heading out that way to miss out on the gorgeous flavours on offer though, I’ve put together a little round up of Costa Rica’s finest fare (and delighted that my favourites all begin, same as in the UK, with the letter C (cheese, chocolate or chips, anyone?).

Costa Rica’s C-Foods


A Casado is possibly the most traditional dish you can get in Costa Rica and my staple while I was there as it never disappoints. Casado translates to ‘married man’ and the dish is a marriage of foods served together! Typically, it includes tortillas, black beans, plantains, rice and salad. I love that you can dress it up by ordering casado con pollo (chicken), casado con carne (beef), casado con cerdo (pork), casado con pescado (fish), or casado vegetariano (vegetarian). You can easily find it in restaurants, sodas (small, local restaurants), street vendors and in homestays, so pretty much everywhere, and you really should try it with a hot sauce. Order one and dine like a Tico!

Costa Rica food
Costa Rica coffee


Costa Rica is known to have some of the world’s best coffee. A law was passed in 1989 that prohibited the planting and growing of low-quality coffee beans. This means quality is absolutely guaranteed, great news for us coffee lovers (all of us in the office then!). Only 100% Arabica coffee beans can be grown and there are eight different coffee growing regions, each with a unique flavour – and diverse weather means farmers can produce a wide variety of flavours within each region. Even better, Costa Rica has strict rules regarding sustainable practices – so indulge away, guilt-free! I recommend joining a coffee tour to learn more about how the land is protected from overproduction.


My hands-down favourite of all the Costa Rican street foods, its name is a combination of the two main ingredients chicharrones (fried pork rinds) and frijoles (red or black beans). These are layered, along with rice, chopped tomatoes or pico de gallo or chimichurri and broth and served with fried tortilla chips and avocado.

You’ll come across it on food stalls, in bars and on the menus of many restaurants across Costa Rica, and I’m always pleasantly surprised at how reasonably it’s priced for such a hearty meal!

Food Costa Rica
Costa Rica food Ceviche


Ceviche is perhaps most associated with Peru, however Costa Rica certainly gives its fellow Latin Americans some competition! Lime juice, black pepper, coriander, peppers, and onions marinate fresh, white fish to perfection and then Costa Ricans add ginger ale into the mix which I think gives it a whole extra kick – absolutely delicious! Often served with tortilla chips, crackers or boiled green plantains on the side, Ceviche is great with an ice-cold drink on a hot day! Included on soda and restaurant menus all over the country, I recommend trying it on the coasts if you get the chance as it really is best when it’s made with the freshest catch.

Picadillo de papaya

My final foodie tip is Picadillo de papaya. Papaya is not a favourite of mine (clearly doesn’t begin with C!) but my fellow travellers insisted this traditional side dish should make the list as it’s just too good. A revelation for Christopher Columbus when he ‘found’ it here in 1492 the tenacious fruit is a staple of many drinks and dishes in Costa Rica and this particular recipe, passed down from generation to generation, is a heady mix of sweet, salt and peppery heat.

Green papaya is boiled, strained and mashed with a sauce of onions, celery, achiote, hot peppers, oil, salt and thyme and either ground beef or pork. After simmering together it’s simply amazing as an accompaniment to Casado or just eaten wrapped in a hot floury tortilla (apparently!).

Food Costa Rica