What Kinds of Food are You Likely to Find When Visiting El Castillo?
El Castillo, a quaint village nestled in the heart of Costa Rica, offers travelers not only breathtaking natural beauty, but also a chance to savor authentic Costa Rican cuisine. This gastronomic journey is as rich and diverse as the lush landscapes surrounding the Arenal Volcano.
If you're planning a watersports vacation with us, then make sure you pay a visit to El Castillo. Be prepared to tickle your taste buds with a variety of traditional dishes that reflect the country's culinary heritage.
A staple in Costa Rican homes and restaurants, "gallos" are small tortillas topped with a variety of fillings. These may include cheese, beans, avocado, or shredded meat, and are typically served as a snack or a light meal. While in El Castillo, you're likely to find gallos served at small eateries and food stalls throughout the village. They're the perfect option for a quick, tasty bite while you're exploring or dabbling in watersports.
If you’re considering a full-day boat rental with us, then we can provide all the sustenance you need to stay agile and energetic out on the water. Just let us know your preferences!
For a hearty traditional Costa Rican lunch or dinner, look no further than "casado". This is a well-balanced meal that typically includes rice, beans, plantains, salad, a protein (such as chicken, beef, or fish), and a tortilla. This dish offers a delicious way to sample a variety of fresh, local ingredients in one meal.
There are a lot of different theories as to why the dish is known as casado, which means ‘married’ in Spanish. Some say it refers to the harmonious union of the different elements on the plate, so be sure to ask your waiter or waitress what they think.
As a country blessed with extensive coastlines, Costa Rica is a paradise for seafood lovers. Ceviche, a dish made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, is particularly popular. The Costa Rican version of this dish often includes sea bass (corvina) mixed with diced onions, bell peppers, cilantro, and seasoned with salt and pepper. It's usually served with crispy tortilla chips and is a must-try for seafood enthusiasts visiting El Castillo.
Tamales, a traditional Mesoamerican dish, are a holiday favorite in Costa Rica but can also be found all year-round. A Costa Rican tamale is made of masa (a dough made from corn) filled with meats, cheese, fruits, or vegetables. This mixture is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until cooked. Tasting this dish is a unique culinary experience that offers insight into the country's pre-Columbian heritage.
Sopa Negra, or black bean soup, is a Costa Rican comfort food. It's a hearty, nutritious soup made from black beans, and often includes hard-boiled eggs, cilantro, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions. It's served hot, making it an ideal meal after a day of exploring the cloud forests or hiking around the Arenal Volcano.
Arroz con Pollo
Another crowd-pleaser, Arroz con Pollo, is a popular dish in Costa Rica. Translating to "rice with chicken," this meal consists of yellow or white rice cooked with chicken, vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, and peas, and seasoned with spices and a dash of Salsa Lizano, a traditional Costa Rican sauce. Arroz con Pollo is a common dish for lunch or dinner and gives a delicious taste of the locally-favored flavor profiles.
Gallo Pinto, or 'spotted rooster,' is the national dish of Costa Rica and is particularly popular for breakfast. It is a mixture of rice and beans, typically served with scrambled or fried eggs, and occasionally with cheese or sour cream. Although simple, Gallo Pinto is a flavorful dish and a cornerstone of Costa Rican food culture.
Olla de Carne
For those chilly nights in El Castillo, Olla de Carne is the perfect comfort food. This hearty beef stew, enriched with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, corn, plantains, yucca, and taro, is slow-cooked until the flavors meld together beautifully. The result is a nourishing, savory dish that truly warms your heart and soul.
A beloved snack in Costa Rica is Chifrijo, a combination of "chicharrones" (fried pork belly or pork rinds) and "frijoles" (beans). Served in a bowl, this dish layers white rice, red beans, chicharrones, diced tomatoes, and avocado, topped with fresh lime and cilantro. Chifrijo is often paired with a cold beer and makes for an excellent appetizer or bar snack. You may have seen the famous chicharrones on social media recently. In fact, chicharrones have become a TikTok favorite.
Costa Rica isn’t just the best watersports destination – it’s an incredible place to treat body and soul. The culinary journey in El Castillo extends beyond just these dishes. From refreshing tropical fruits to locally made chocolates, the food scene is an eclectic blend of flavors and culinary traditions. Trying Costa Rican cuisine is a way to engage with the country's culture, offering insights into its history, agriculture, and lifestyle. So, as you explore the stunning landscapes of El Castillo, don't forget to also indulge in the local cuisine, savoring the tastes and textures that make Costa Rican food truly special.