Gastronomic tourism has become increasingly popular in Costa Rica, not only because of the cuisine’s authentic flavours, but also because of the genuine traditional ambiance that visitors experience here. Restaurants in La Fortuna de San Carlos have to fulfill the following characteristics to be considered traditionally Costa Rican.
Clay tile roofs: Clay tile roofs are part of Costa Rica’s cultural heritage, having been inherited from colonial times, they have stood the test of time due to their beauty and ability to keep spaces cool. All truly traditional La Fortuna restaurants are made more beautiful by these authentic clay tile roofs.
Wooden benches: Making rustic furniture from fine woods is a steadfast Costa Rican tradition. Besides the furniture being an excellent display of indigenous crafts, the wood used to make it is also treated and finished by hand. The wood most commonly used comes from the Melina trees that grow in Costa Rica’s forests.
Braiding together onions is a tradition passed down from our ancestors, who used to braid together the onions’ dried stems to form the shape of a bunch of grapes.
Why did they prefer to keep onions in this way? No one knows for sure, but some elders say that it keeps humidity away and keeps the onions fresher for longer.
What we know for sure is that these bunches have become quintessential traditional decorations. Beyond being decorative, the onions are obviously for eating, and once the bunch is almost finished it’s replaced by a new one.
This thousand-year-old tradition gives food a unique flavour; pork or chicken cooked on a gas stove could never taste the same. Everything tastes different when cooked in a wood-burning oven, it seems that the heat and the fire’s magic add the perfect touch to roasted food.
The ovens are handcrafted from clay, cement, and bricks; all of the finishing touches and some tools to be used with the oven are also made by hand.
Grains are the base of Costa Rican meals, especially rice and beans, which are mainly served in two ways: in “gallo pinto”, the traditional Costa Rican breakfast, and as part of the famous “casado”, which is a mixed plate. Every true traditional restaurant offers both of these dishes.
Brewed coffee has been a staple in Costa Rican homes for a long time; the traditional Costa Rican brewing device, called a “chorreador”, is an indispensable tool in all of our grandparents’ homes.
When people get together in the afternoon, whoever is hosting will almost always get out the “chorreador” to prepare delicious, aromatic coffee to share with family or friends. A traditional restaurant in La Fortuna delight their diners with this delicious drink, and foreign visitors are often amazed by the traditional brewing technique and the coffee’s amazing flavour.
A good restaurant in La Fortuna should be dedicated to conserving our traditional heritage.
Folklore is the final element that’s certainly worth mentioning, as it’s visible in all aspects of daily Costa Rican life. All of our customs are based in folklore, such as ways of dressing, manners of speaking, dances, aboriginal music with the marimba instrument, sayings, expressions, and all that characterizes our people.
Everything significant that can be mentioned when speaking about Costa Rica should be found in a good traditional restaurant.