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Street Food of Costa Rica

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A foodie’s guide to Costa Rican street food.

About Costa Rican Street Food

I’ll just start by saying it: street food in Costa Rica is absolutely delicious. One of the huge advantages to Costa Rican street food is that since you can drink the water, you can be sure that even fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to eat on the street.

Costa Rican street food is also relatively inexpensive compared to foods in restaurants. You can usually pick up something for between $3-$5, sometimes even less.

Often when you purchase street food, you are buying it directly from the person who made it, which can be a nice way to support a local with your money.

In general, street food vendors will not take dollars or cards, so make sure to change your money into some colones so you can enjoy!

Remember that you can drink beer in the street in Costa Rica, so sometimes it can be fun to get some street food and a beer and enjoy!

Where to Find Costa Rican Street Food

Costa Rican street food can be found in a lot of different places.

Alongside the road

You will often see vendors selling everything from gallos (tortillas with a small portion of food on top) to baked goods to freshly cut fruit.

At stoplights

You will find that when there is a traffic jam, street vendors will flock to cars selling everything from homemade plantain chips to cashews to cold homemade juices.

On public buses

At the bus stops, drivers will often allow vendors to get on the bus and sell empanadas, bread, soft drinks and more.

Peñas Blancas, Nicaragua – January 22: Ice cream vendor at the border crossing offices from Costa Rica into Nicaragua. January 22 2018, Peñas Blancas, Nicaragua

At the beach

You will often find men with carts selling copos, a delightful snow cone. Pati, a Caribbean beef turnover is another popular one. Coconut water (aguda de pipa) with a straw sticking out of a green coconut is also extremely popular.

One time, we even found a woman walking down the beach selling cake. You just never know in the tourist areas.

On the street

I mean, duh.

Outside Stadiums

Gameday means lots of delicious food on the street- most notably skewers of chicken and steak for about a dollar.

Puntarenas and Limon

These two towns- the port towns of Costa Rica, are well known for their street foods. In Puntarenas, the vigoron is the most popular street food. Another popular one is the Costa Rican fruit salad.


Turnos are community functions (often sponsored by churches) where the best of the best cooks in town make food for sale to benefit the church. This is good eating, people. Most notably you’ll find pork tamales, ox tail and homemade empanadas.

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Comprehensive List Of Street Food Dishes

Here is a list of the street foods you can find in Costa Rica, with links to the recipes where available.

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About the Author

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Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, travel and language. I’m a mom of two Latinas, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here

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