Maybe you’re a world traveler looking for your next food adventure.
Or perhaps you’re curious about Central America and wondering how to even begin exploring its variety of traditional dishes.
And yes. Central America offers far more than just rice and beans.
Like the bright colors and lively people, the food is just as hot.
And while Central America may not get a lot of public hype, each of its 7 countries has a distinct and unique vibe.
Even better, Latin American cuisine is sure to satisfy every palate – whether you have simple tastes or enjoy the more exotic.
So if you’re looking to taste the best food Central America has to offer, check out our recommended top dishes from each country.
Belize – Fry Jacks
In Belize, it’s all about the fry jacks.
Typically served at breakfast, these tiny triangle pieces of fried dough are served hot and will perfectly satisfy your sweet tooth.
Did we mention it’s fried dough?
Not only are these deep-fried treats delicious, they’re traditionally served with butter or honey which make them even sweeter.
And to add a bit of Latino flare, you can eat them with refried beans and cheese.
Definitely not “keto friendly” but remember, you are on vacation.
Panama — Empanadas
Looking for another twist on corn or flour pastries?
Try the famous mini-empanadas folded and stuffed with meat and eggs
Not a fan of eating eggs and meat together?
These beasts can really be stuffed with anything you’d like.
And of course, the fact that these delicious pastries are deep fried make them even better.
But the best part of all is you can find them all over Panama and eat them at any meal.
They’re addicting, and you won’t be able to eat just one!
Costa Rica – Gallo Pinto
More than just the “rice and beans” you find here in the States, gallo pinto is a staple in Costa Rica, and is often eaten at every meal.
Composed of red beans and white rice and deep fried with onions and tomatoes – the flavor is out of this world.
And depending on where you are in Costa Rica, you’ll find this traditional dish served different ways.
Sometimes you’ll find a lighter version made with garlic and chili spices and other times this favorite dish is cooked in heavy coconut milk.
Regardless, it is full of flavor and a must try.
Guatemala – Pepian
Pepian is one of the oldest dishes in Guatemala and it will not disappoint.
This meaty stew is a popular dish served by street vendors and homemakers alike.
And depending on where you go, this thick dish is made with either chicken, pork, or beef – sometimes all three!
Pepian is unique as it is almost always served with classic vegetables and sweet fruits such as carrots and pears.
It is definitely an acquired taste, but it is one of the hottest dishes in Guatemala.
El Salvador – Pupusas
These tortillas are made with either corn or rice and are stuffed full of cheese and the toppings of your choice.
And the best part about pupusas is you can customize them any way you want.
Carnivore to the core?
Fill ‘em up with pork and chicken.
Looking for something unique?
Consider trying them with loroco – essentially an edible plant popular in El Salvador.
Not a fan of eating plants?
The classic “frijoles y queso” (beans and cheese) is always a safe bet and one of the most popular combinations.
Two or three of these and you’re bound to be stuffed to the max.
And in El Salvador, you can find these delicious treats for as little as 35 cents apiece.
Honduras – Carne Asada
If you’re looking for a break from the traditional rice and beans or fried food, give carne asada a try.
Thinly sliced grilled beef and served hot, this meat is charred and full of flavor.
In Honduras, the beef is marinated in spices like pepper and sugar with a little bit of lemon and vinegar.
Don’t knock it till you try it.
Nicaragua – Tostones
A staple of Latin America, tostones are plantain slices… fried twice.
Think of ’em like potato chips – but better.
While not considered a main dish and definitely not something to binge on, a side of tostones is a must addition to your meal.
And in Nicaragua, you can enjoy these with fried cheese or beans.
Don’t Forget The Coffee
And while you chow down on the best grub Central America has to offer, don’t forget about the coffee.
Central America is known for cultivating some of the best coffee in the world—and once you get a taste of real coffee, your typical gas station coffee just won’t cut it anymore.
So enjoy your time in Central America and embrace the Latino flare. Have fun sampling all the different foods of this region with the ultimate food tour, Latino style!
Have you ever been to Central America? Which food are you looking forward to trying first?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!