Food in the Dominican Republic provides a rich and delicious mix of options. Many dishes are similar in style and flavour to other Latin Caribbean foods, but the DR also has some unique and unexpected influences. A few familiar Caribbean dishes include things like fried smashes plantains (tostones), or fritas which are more like chips, as well as plenty of rice and beans.
Typical Dominican Republic fare includes pastelón, a casserole like lasagna but made with plantains or yucca (cassava), and guisados – meat or fish cooked with peppers, onions, garlic, olives and cilantro and served with rice. Soups are also popular in DR homes, and include a rich mix of legumes, vegetables, and meat. Make sure to try a bowl of sancocho, as this particular soup is one of the national dishes. Casabe, a flat bread made from cassava, and guanimos, which are similar to tamales, are two traditional foods that came from the indigenous Taíno peoples.
The African slave populations brought mangú, a dish of mashed, boiled plantains usually served for breakfast with eggs, salami, onions and fried cheese. Lebanese immigrants in the late 19th century brought their unique flavours to DR cuisine, and you’ll likely find rice with almonds and raisins on some menus, as well as dishes like tabbouleh (locally called tipili) and kibbeh (quipes) mixed bulgar wheat and ground meat patties, and something called niño envuelto, a cabbage roll filled with rice.
Along the coast, you’re sure to find a delicious mix of seafood dishes, including fresh catches like shrimp, mahi-mahi, lobster, and more. Sweets like flan, and arroz con leche (rice pudding) came from the Spanish to delight your dessert tastebuds. You’ll also find ethnic restaurants run by other immigrant populations in the Dominican Republic, including Japanese, Chinese, Italian, German and more, as well as some standard American fare.
As for drinks, the DR is a major rum producer, so you’re sure to find plenty of rum-based cocktails on the menu, or just enjoy it straight up and taste the varied flavours of the different ages and brands available. If beer’s your thing, you can enjoy a cold domestic Presidente, or Bohemia brew, light beers that will cool you off on a hot beach day. And don’t leave without trying the national drink, Mamajuana, a mix of rum, red wine, honey, twig, bark and herbs that tastes a bit like port.
There are plenty more local delights to taste, so go with an empty stomach and a willingness to explore!