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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.
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.
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.
Gameday means lots of delicious food on the street- most notably skewers of chicken and steak for about a dollar.
Puntarenas and Limon
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.
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.
- Taco Tico
- Grilled Meat
- Grilled Chicken
- Copos (Snow Cone)
- Chop Suey
- Chicken and Rice
- Cantonese Rice
- Cotton Candy
- Agua Dulce
- Homemade Juices
- Gallos (tortillas with toppings)
- Estofado (oxtail)
- Agua de pipa (coconut water)
- Costa Rican Ice Cream
You might also like these posts:
- 30+ Foods To Try In Costa Rica
- Gluten Free Costa Rica – a guide
- 10 Delicious Vegan Options in Costa Rica
If you would like to talk to me about a customized itinerary or specific Costa Rica travel advice for your family, (zero sales- just advice!) check out my “Ask Christa” page for more information on custom Costa Rica trip planning geared towards families.
Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by