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Local Food and Nightlife
Due to its geographical location and tropical climate, Costa Rica has a wealth of fruits and vegetables that in combination with European ingredients and culture, translate into a unique local flavor. The basic staples of the Costa Rican diet are rice, beans, corn tortillas, tropical fruits and vegetables. Costa Rican cooks use ingredients that include simple native foods, such as chayotes, avocados, hearts of palm, green plantains and yucca.

Breakfast typically features gallo pinto, a delicious mixture of rice and black beans, and is often accompanied with eggs, corn tortillas and sour cream. Other options include a tropical fruit plate of papaya, watermelon, pineapple, banana, and mango or cantaloupe (when in season). Casados, a popular lunch dish, are huge plates of white rice, beans, fried plantains, salad, cheese, diced vegetables, and either meat, chicken or fish.

Costa Rica produces and serves some of the finest coffee in the world. The local spirit is called guaro, a beverage distilled from sugar cane with a refined taste. Coffee liquor and other local spirits, such as blackberry wine and passion fruit liqueur, can be found throughout the country.

The large influx of foreigners into Costa Rica, especially over the last 30 years, has brought tremendous growth and diversity to the country’s culinary scene. Now you can find Italian pastas, Japanese sushi, French wines, Peruvian seafood, Argentinean steaks, Indian Tandoori in San Jose and in many tourist towns around the country. Memorable Costa Rica is happy to provide restaurant recommendations for every region of the country you plan to visit, including some of our staff’s personal favorites.

Costa Rican nightlife is extremely active, as is the case with most Latin American countries. Latin rhythms mix nicely with American music, presenting the best of both worlds. Bars, discos and cafes usually are very democratic, playing equal amounts of both music styles in any given night.

San Jose has the best and most active nightlife scene in the country. The most active nights are Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday is usually reserved for the movie. Many tourist towns also feature an exciting nightlife, especially during the high season. Towns known for the night activities include Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo and Jaco. Places like La Fortuna (Arenal) and Monteverde have a limited but active number of establishments that offer alternatives for those seeking to experience the local night activities.

Every major town in Costa Rica has its own fiesta popular or public festival, showcasing local favorite activities such as bull fighting (please note that in Costa Rica it is illegal to harm the animal, so it is a fun, harmless activity in which the bullfighter runs the higher risk), horse riding contests, dancing and a taste of the local foods. Major events almost always offer outdoor rock and Latin music concerts.

If you happen to be town while one of these major events is taking place, you should not miss the opportunity to experience this traditional party. Some of the most popular events include the San Jose Festejos Populares (late December), Palmares (mid January), Liberia (March) and Guanacaste (late July).
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