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Reading the menu in a Costa Rican restaurant

Reading the menu in a Costa Rican restaurantIt’s time to eat in a Costa Rican restaurant or soda, and learn to read the menu. Once you move to Costa Rica, you will want to eat out once in a while. Depending on where you are going to live, you will be able to read the menu or not.

In the Escazu and Santa Ana areas, as well as the beaches of Costa Rica, you will probably find the menu in most restaurants in Spanish as well as English, due to tourism and the number of foreigners living in that area.

But once you start getting into the rural areas of Costa Rica, you will probably find the menu only in Spanish, a reason I always recommend you learn at least basic Spanish before you even move to Costa Rica, especially if you want to eat well.Reading the menu in a Costa Rican restaurant

Once living in Costa Rica, you can start bringing that basic Spanish into perfection by reading road signs, signs on businesses as well as the menus in the restaurants. Once you order the wrong things because you don’t understand what the words mean, you either learn how to eat the local food or you learn Spanish.

Rural areas

When you drive the countryside or go to some beach in the middle of nowhere, you might find many menus like that. There are enterprising business people who think it’s a great idea to offer the menu of their restaurant in Spanish – English.

What you might find in that menu will need some of your imagination to understand what it means. The translations are probably taken from some dictionary and are a verbatim translation.


Reading the menu in a Costa Rican restaurantYou will find some delicious dishes like:

  • Bocas surtidas – Sorted mouths
  • Cazuela de Queso Mozarella – Pan of cheese Mozarella
  • Hamburguesa Especial con papas – Spiral Hamburger with potatoes
  • Hamburguesa Corriente – Average Hamburger
  • Papas a la Francesa grande – Potatoes to the big French

Tico dishes

You might also find descriptions of certain dishes as follows:

  • Salted Tenderloin: Small pieces or tenderloin,  fried at the moment with onions, French fries, and tomato, served with rice.
  • Ice cream: Lucuma, vanilla and combinated
  • Married: Rice with beans, picadillo or arracache, coleslaw green or purple cabbage, served with chicken fillet or steak sauce lizano fish or tripe in sauce

Reading the menu in a Costa Rican restaurant

I will leave it to you to figure out what it all means. Please understand that those who have a menu in English, no matter how bad the orthography is, means well. They’re just trying to help those of you who are too lazy to learn Spanish.

I invite you to eat in a Costa Rican restaurant next time you have a chance. Enjoy and buen provecho or good appetite!

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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