The information about gallo pinto below is an excerpt from our full Costa Rica Food Guide. To learn about other types of Costa Rican food, visit our free food guide:
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What is gallo pinto?
A typical Costa Rican breakfast
Arguably the most Costa Rican of all things to eat in Costa Rica is gallo pinto. This staple breakfast dish is eaten by Ticos (Costa Ricans) daily. You’ll eat it daily too (and perhaps get tired of doing so) if you plan to spend a significant amount of time in the country. If it helps you any, gallo pinto is my favorite Costa Rican food, and I’m not even a big fan of beans.
Gallo pinto is built with two staple food items: white rice and black beans (less frequently, red beans are used). It’s a mix of the two foods, together with flavorful additions like salt and Costa Rica’s signature sauce, Salsa Lizano. The end product is a dry dish full of soft (and somewhat bland) rice and beans, supplemented by Lizano‘s tangy (but not spicy) zip. The dish gets its name (which translates to “speckled rooster) from the beans speckled throughout the dish.
Some servings of gallo pinto also include potent cilantro–a green, parsley-looking herb–which is an acquired taste. Sweet red pepper and onion may also be included.
Where to try gallo pinto in Costa Rica
Perhaps the easier question to answer here is where can’t you try gallo pinto in Costa Rica? To which we would answer, “nowhere!” Every restaurant in Costa Rica that serves Costa Rican cuisine and is open for breakfast has a plate full of gallo pinto with your name on it.
How to pronounce gallo pinto
GUY-YOH / PEEN-TOH
- Gallo: 2 syllables / equal emphasis on both syllables
- Pinto: 2 syllables / equal emphasis on both syllables
Want to make Costa Rican gallo pinto yourself? Check out the recipe in our related blog post here:
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you tried gallo pinto in Costa Rica? What did you think?