The Costa Rican flavors at U.S. fast-food restaurants

The bizarre mix of Costa Rican flavors at U.S.-based restaurants:

There is a lot of great food in Costa Rica. There are also hundreds of U.S. fast-food restaurants here. Sometimes, those two mix in strange ways.

Today, let’s explore the bizarre world of Costa Rican flavors at U.S.-based restaurants:

Gallo Pinto at the Golden Arches

For those who want to pair McDonald’s with Costa Rica’s (unofficial) national dish, the Golden Arches have you covered. Their McPinto Deluxe has all the fixings: Gallo pinto, scrambled eggs, sour cream, tortillas, and a coffee.

Now, why anyone would visit McDonald’s for this meal — which is available at nearly any other restaurant and home across Costa Rica — is beyond me.

McDonald’s influence goes beyond breakfast: Ronald McDonald and Co. popularized the drink refill in Costa Rica. And, since that’s still a foreign concept for many Ticos, most McDonald’s restaurants have posted signs detailing the rules for topping off your soda.

‘Tico’ Bell

While many U.S. Americans might classify Taco Bell as Mexican food, their Costa Rica restaurants offer a decidedly North American staple: French fries.

In fact, while Taco Bells in the U.S. only recently added French fries, the side has been a menu staple in Costa Rica (and elsewhere in Latin America) for many years.

For a period, Taco Bell also offered their own take on the Costa Rican breakfast by shoving pinto con huevos into a tortilla:

Casados at KFC

The Louisville, Kentucky-based chain once offered casados and arroz con pollo at its Costa Rica restaurants. Ticos presumably realized that you shouldn’t go to Kentucky Fried Chicken for the tastiest grilled chicken, and these items were subsequently removed from the menu.

Today, KFCs in Costa Rica serve U.S. American classics like the Chizza — a pizza that uses fried chicken as its crust. And we wonder why Costa Ricans are getting fatter.

Salsa Lizano subs

If you need your meal to appeal to a Costa Rican audience, throw some Salsa Lizano on it. That’s what the folks at Quiznos must have thought with their sandwich called, quite simply, “Tico.”

Alas, “Tico” doesn’t exist anymore, but Quiznos is another U.S. chain that serves French fries in Costa Rica. Also, an Alfredo and ham pasta, for whatever reason.

At Subway, the Costa Rican offerings are a little more traditional: A typical gallo pinto breakfast, or pinto shoved into a tortilla to make a burrito:

Little Caesars: Exists

We’re adding the Detroit-based pizza chain to this list because, until recently, we had no idea they existed in Costa Rica. Little Caesars has two Costa Rica locations, and yes, they offer a “Hot-N-Ready” pie for 3,590 colones.


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