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Food For Thought: Tasty Central American Foods you’ve probably never heard of

A white plate with a pomegranate, one of the popular Central American foods, delicately placed on top.

You all know Central America but are you familiar with the local delicacies?

Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto

In Costa Rica, there’s one meal you must try which is Gallo Pinto, short for “spotted rooster.” This common dish consists of rice and beans and can be found throughout Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Don’t be alarmed if this hearty dish is served up for breakfast!

A plate of Central American food on a banana leaf.

Colombia: Bandeja paisa and aguardiente

Colombian food is diverse with each region having its own unique flavour. There’s a mix of influence infused into this country, a mixture of Spanish, African and Arab cultures.

But when in Colombia, one must eat grilled meats and drink aguardiente, a sugar-cane liquor. Try Colombia’s national dish, bandeja paisaBut be warned; this dish is not for the faint-hearted… It’s a platter of steak, pork crackling and chorizo sausages served on a bed of rice and red beans, so be prepared for the biggest meat sweats of your life.

Colombian Bandeja

Belize: Fry Jack

You better Belize that the food here is good. A Belizean fry jack is a traditional dish that’s served as a breakfast option. This deep fried dough can come shaped as a square or triangle. Fry jacks are often best eaten with various cheeses, refried beans and eggs.

Fry Jack

Guatemala: Tamales

Gua-Tamales can be found in a few countries; South and Central America mainly but especially in Guatemala. This traditional dish is wrapped up in cornhusk or banana leaf. What goes inside are fillings which consist of squash, beans or different types of meat. It’s an excellent snack, very portable and perfect for budget-travellers.


Honduras: baleadas

Love tortillas filled with delicious fillings? Try a baleadas! This traditional Honduran dish is a flour tortilla, folded in half and filled with mashed fried beans. If you’re a simple kinda person, try the baleadas sencillas which is topped with cheese and crema. It’s also common to add sausage, hot sauce, avocado, chicken, corn and chismol (diced tomato, onion and bell pepper).

A plate of Central American foods on a table.

Panama: sancocho

Panamanian cuisine is a mix of African, Spanish and Native American techniques. The sancocho is a stew-like national dish of Panama consisting of chicken, ñame and culantro. This traditional soup is often served with rice on the side.

A pot of stew with chicken and potatoes, inspired by Central American cuisine.

Mexico: Chilaquiles and Black Sepote

Chilaquiles are corn tortillas cut up into smaller pieces and then lightly fried. A green or red salsa is then poured over the top and garnished with cream, shredded queso fresco, raw onion rings and even avocado slices. There are options to spice up the dish by serving with refried beans, eggs, pulled chicken or beef. #Drooling.