Costa Rica is a destination where tourist infrastructure is done very well, which means you can find roadside restaurants, hotel restaurants and places to eat anywhere from the beach to the rainforest. Most likely food will be a combination of local flavors and many outside influences from fast food to gourmet.
The real hidden gem of Costa Rican cuisine is to experience the tiny corner restaurants that can be found in any town usually just across from the Church, on the outskirts or at roadside intersections too called a “soda.” It may look like a small convenience store but there are usually a few tables and chairs. The unmistakeable local allure may be an adventure for some but the tasty rewards are succulent.
Sodas will have a menu which is fixed and the dishes and prices will be listed. They are also able to modify and substitute as you request. A typical breakfast dish which is the famous Costa Rican cuisine is called a Gallo Pinto. This rice, beans, cream, cheese and eggs is a savory way to start the day but can be eaten any time too. Coffee is always rich and delicious, various types of pastries, main courses and everything is no frills local as it can get. If you see trucks pulled over on the side of the roadway its an even better sign the food is great.
The prices will run around $15-$20 for three people which is a bargain in Costa Rica where food is expensive and the restaurants for tourists are usually overpriced, crowded and offer lower quality ingredients. Sodas are then an affordable and an authentic Costa Rican meal, as close as you’ll get to eating in someone’s home and sometimes they’re attached, so its not far off from experiencing this unique vantage point.