Yes, it is true, Ticos really love chicken. No wonder they even say “arroz con siempre” which literally translates as “Rice with usual” or “Rice with always”. A chicken lover paradise… but there are many other tasty options!
Vegetarians are always anxious when traveling to a new country. We are always wondering what we are going to be able to eat… and how not to be rude when refusing to eat certain dishes. But hold on, I think Costa Rica is one of the best countries I have visited as a flexitarian myself. The country’s fertile volcanic lands produce all the fruit, vegetable, and root vegetables you could ever dream of.
Here are a few options that you’ll be able to find in any restaurant or soda (traditional Costa Rican restaurant) in Costa Rica:
Casado: The traditional lunch in Costa Rica is called a “casado”. You will find it in every soda restaurant around Costa Rica. It is basically composed of beans, rice, a small salad, some fried plantains and then a slice of meat or some fish. You just have to ask for one without meat or fish and you’ll be left with an incredibly healthy and complete meal containing everything a traveller needs to stay healthy while travelling. In some restaurants, if you ask for a vegetarian casado, they will even add another portion of vegetable to your plate, some eggs or some cheese.
Gallo Pinto: the traditional Tico breakfast which is composed of rice, beans and that is usually accompanied with a plain tortillas and some eggs. The perfect breakfast to kick off the day.
Refresco natural / Smoothie / Agua de pipa: To accompany your casado, I recommend trying a “refresco natural” or a smoothie. Made with fresh local fruits, they are just perfect refreshing drinks after a long day of trekking. To chill out on the beach, opt for a “pipa fría”, a fresh coconut; simply Pura Vida!
Fresh fruits plates: Fruit plates are widely available and are a delicious and filling snack given the variety of fruits you can get in Costa Rica. Fruits such as granadillas, bananas, apples or tangerines are easy to transport while going on an excursion. Make sure you check out the numerous local markets to try all the different fruits Costa Rica has to offer.
Pastries: Stop at a local bakery to try all the different Costa Rican pastries. There are many sweet vegetarian options.
Corn tortillas: Corn tortillas are widely available throughout the country. Try their plain corn tortillas served with cheese and sour cream “tortilla con queso y natilla”.
Now you see… These were only a few examples, you will find many more vegetarian and even vegan options in Costa Rica. You will not be left hungry! Moreover, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in touristy places. Off you go! Nothing can hold you back from visiting this enchanting green paradise!