Start your day with Costa Rica's iconic gallo pinto for breakfast. This hearty dish is made with rice and black beans, which are cooked separately, then mixed together and sautéed with onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and lizano sauce (although Worcestershire sauce can also do the trick). The dish gets its name from its colors, which resemble the belly of the gallo pinto (spotted rooster). Be sure to try this specialty in different places: at home with your host, in a soda (local café), or in restaurants, so you can get to know its many subtle variations.
The typical lunchtime meal of casado is also made with rice and beans, with the addition of meat or fish, and salad. La Casona de Laly in San José is one of the best restaurants for an introduction to Costa Rican flavors. Want to learn to cook these dishes yourself? Stop by Sarapiqui and take one of the cooking classes there. It's also an interesting spot for learning all of the secrets of chocolate-making, as well as tasting specialties made from another regional delicacy, heart of palm. On the coast, enjoy freshly caught fish. Ordering it grilled or as ceviche (marinated in lemon juice) is the best way to preserve all its flavors.
As for beverages, fruits have a starring role in delicious fresh juices available throughout the country. There are stands offering batidos and jugos everywhere, and you can choose between smoothies made with milk or water, depending on your preferences. Guaro is an alcoholic drink made from cane sugar, similar to rum, and is best enjoyed in moderation.