Surfing is an amazing but strenuous sport that uses up a lot of energy. Paddling out, navigating the waves, and riding in all use different muscles and you are sure to come out of the water tired. That is why it is important to refuel so that you can recuperate quickly to get right back out there and not miss a single good wave! Luckily, in Costa Rica, there is a wide array of great options for post-surf grub. The typical food is not talked about much, but it sure should be! Costa Rica has many culinary specialties that are absolutely delicious. So there is a lot to look forward to on your Costa Rica surf trip… great waves and also great food! Here is a list of the classics you can’t leave without trying.
Perhaps the most famous, gallo pinto is typically eaten for breakfast all over the country. Pinto is a mix of rice and beans cooked with yummy spices, and then it will usually be accompanied by an egg, some sausage, bread, maybe some veggies, or whatever else you request. It is the best hangover cure out there and a great way to get a lot of energy first thing in the morning before heading out to the water. You can order gallo pinto at any soda. Anytime you see the word “soda,” that means it is a typical restaurant that will be serving up all the classics. Sometimes you can even call and order express, which means that they will deliver it to you if you are too tired to get up and go eat out! This is perfect for those groggy mornings after a Saturday night out. However, if you wake up too late, they will probably stop serving gallo pinto and you’ll get to try the next item on the list instead…
This is also a dish with rice and beans, but usually, they are served separately in a casado. The servings are most often accompanied by your choice of meat, a salad, and plantains. I cannot even begin to describe how satisfying a casado is after a long surf session. There is truly nothing better! Since Costa Rica is home to so much amazing seafood, I recommend getting a casado with pescado (fish). Normally, it is red snapper or something else local that was very freshly caught and just delicious. And the best part? All of these typical meals are HUGE servings and only cost around $5 USD. Sometimes you can even get two meals out of one if you are trying to be stingy. It is really a great bang for your buck.
One word – WOW. I am sure you have tried an ice cream sandwich. But I assure you, you have never ever tried one like this. Picture perfectly creamy vanilla ice cream, with the gooiest, chewiest cookie you can think of on either side. It is a treat, but not too sweet, and so cold that you will surely crave them in the hot sun of Costa Rica. You can find them in the ice cream section of pretty much every super market, and they only cost a couple dollars. Surf, eat a trits to cool off, surf again to burn off the sugar, and repeat. 😉
Street Meat – Pinchos
As you walk down the street, you will pass many little stands selling meat on a stick kabob style, which locals call pinchos. Normally you can choose between chicken, pork, and beef, and they will ask if you would like to add spicy sauce and give it to you with a tortilla. These are usually 1,000 colones, or about $1.70. A pretty affordable snack, or get two and call it a meal! And although buying random meat off the street might seem a bit questionable, rest assured you don’t have to worry. A very low number of people get sick from eating food in Costa Rica, and in general, this is not something that you need to worry about. And when you are in a new place, it is fun to try new things and experience how locals eat! No doubt you will be among a number of Ticos waiting to grab a pincho after an afternoon out catching waves.
One of the most incredible things about tropical places like Costa Rica is the incredible array of food that can be grown without the help of greenhouses or anything. The native fruit flourishes because of all of the sun and luscious rain! There are some fruits that are must-tries while you are visiting, and chances are you will get hooked and start searching every grocery store in your hometown to see if they have imported these tropical wonders. Here is a couple of the best:
- Maracuyá, or passionfruit in English, is deliciously sweet and tangy at the same time. It is amazing to spice up smoothies or on top of yogurt.
- Mango, when it is in season, is one of the most abundant fruits in Costa Rica. You might pass by a mango tree and see it laden with fruits, or even be able to score some off the ground. They are also pretty cheap in the grocery stores, which is a refreshing change from the states.
- Piña is also incredible and I am not lying when I say that it tastes different in Costa Rica. Never have I ever tried pineapple so juicy! It is one of the most refreshing snacks post-surf.
- Mamón Chino is one that most people have never heard of. One of the great things about travel is finding things you have never seen before, much less tasted. I will basically run off the road if I see a Mamón Chino stand. This red spiky tropical fruit goes by many names, officially “Rambutan” and sometimes called “mamoncillo,” which is technically a cousin. In Costa Rica, Panama and elsewhere in Central America, it goes by “Mamón Chino” because it is an Asian fruit and that phrase literally means “Chinese sucker.” It is kind of like a gape mixed with plum because it has a pit. They are as delicious as they are fun to eat!
- Pitaya, or dragonfruit, would be incredible just for the color even if it didn’t taste good. The intense pink is unlike anything else and makes every smoothie or acai bowl absolutely gorgeous.
- Pipas of course! This is what they call the cold, refreshing coconuts that you can buy fresh from any fruit stand or even from people on the beach. They will cut it open right in front of you, stick a straw in, and you are good to go! There is no better way to rehydrate and get some delicious, natural electrolytes.
If you are hanging out around the Iguana Surf shop in the afternoon in Tamarindo, a guy carrying a cooler and a bottle of hot sauce will walk by yelling about ceviche, and you can buy some for just 1,000 colones. It is homemade fresh daily and absolutely incomparable. You will be able to add some hot sauce if you want, and he will also give you a packet of crackers to enjoy with it! The acid used to make the raw fish safe to eat is also an awesome hangover cure, and people also say that ceviche can act like nature’s viagra.
So whatever your needs might be or even if you are just looking for a refreshing, cheap snack, ceviche is the answer.
Turns out your Costa Rica surf trip is also going to make for the perfect chance to experience the incredible typical Costa Rican food. And it won’t break the bank! Nowhere else has such a great mix of amazing waves and delicious cuisine that is also unique, delicious, and affordable! We can’t wait to share a trits with you on the beach when you arrive!