True Nature Travels Blog

Costa Rican Food: An Authentic Experience

Costa Rican food

Thinking of Costa Rica?

(so are we 🙂 )

Costa Rican beach

There are many amazing things I could say about Costa Rica. We can sit together to talk for hours about the incredible places to explore only 51,100 kms away, but from my experience, as a Costa Rican lady who loves her roots, I recommend you to try its food first. Afterward, dive into the beautiful nature, from the blue ocean to the green hills; from the pasture lands to the exciting experience of staying in a luxury resort or just living with a host family who also represents a beautiful way to experience the luxury! 

The magic starts when you first taste the typical food.

The experience increases if you help to prepare it in a house, with a local family that will invite you to get immersed into the culture.

Costa Rican FoodYour trip will never be complete without having tried the Gallo Pinto, it is a traditional dish  of black beans and rice with onions, pepper, garlic and cilantro. That is the way we start our day, we invite the family members to help us preparing the breakfast, and Gallo Pinto is served with fried eggs or scrambled eggs, tortillas and sour cream. 

Life in Costa Rica is not fast. The rooster is our alarm to know when we need to wake up and the first one who goes to the kitchen is the one who will prepare coffee (in my case, I pretend not to listen the rooster, which is why my husband is the one who makes coffee every morning! Maybe this comment helps just in case you need a tip).

(photo credit: The Striped Spatula)

Once we are all together, we start helping each other in order to be ready on time and of course, to have the time enough to enjoy breakfast in calm.

We also eat some fruit or bread sometimes instead of the Gallo Pinto, but the legend says that when you eat Gallo Pinto you will have a lucky day and yes, we are lucky!

Today we are celebrating my dad’s birthday and I am baking a cake for him!

It is possible to buy a cake at the supermarket, but we normally bake instead of buying a cake. When you prepare it with love, the taste is unique and a birthday celebration is unique! That is the perfect opportunity to give a piece of love, handmade love.

Dad loves chocolate cake and I am sure you can find a recipe on the web or in cook books you have at home. Today I am going to share this moment with you and feel that you guys are going to join us in my Dad’s celebration. So here is the Arroz Guacho Recipe (Sticky Rice Recipe). It will be our main dish tonight, and it is prepared at mom’s home, on her wood stove.

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Arroz Guacho

Cooking time: 1 hour.


1 lb meat, cut into 1- inch cubes

1 lb uncooked long grain rice, rinsed and dried

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 roll chopped cilantro

1 crushed clove garlic

1/2 cup red and green chopped pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

Salt and turmeric to taste



Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.

Add the meat and stir for five minutes.

Add water just to cover the meat.

Bring it to a boil until the meat is tender.

Add all the chopped veggies and stir.

Add uncooked rice and more water so that there is one inch above meat level.

Stir occasionally to avoid scorching until rice is cooked.

Serve with a home made tortilla and enjoy!

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The secret to food that tastes so fresh and delicious in Costa Rica is because it is prepared with love and most of the ingredients are from the garden, planted by the family and completely chemical free. Greenhouses and agriculture are part of our culture. We always find a site to start planting vegetables and believe me, the taste is better when you have worked hard to enjoy the harvest.

I encourage you to prepare this delicious recipe and to find ways to plant seeds and watch how they grow. The process is medicine for the soul. Nature is the best doctor and the best medicine!


About the Author

Lindsay Padilla

Costa Rican mom of 2 boys. Spanish instructor and Program Coordinator in the village of San Rafael, Peñas Blancas, CR.
Lindsay has been a part of the True Nature team for many years, supporting our Costa Rican retreats.