Dominican food has a long reputation in the US but perhaps less so around the world. These are tasty, Caribbean-inspired dishes, similar to other nearby islands, but with flavors all their own. These are our recommendations for must-try Dominican foods and dishes, whether you are staying in a resort or traveling around the island and exploring!
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Must Try Dominican Dishes
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean island situated on the Island of Hispaniola, which is shares with Haiti. It is a destination where you will be surrounded by magnificent fortresses and cathedrals, along with the magical blue ocean. Eye candy is not the only thing the Dominican Republic has to offer. Dominican foods including Dominican snacks and Dominican desserts are worth your time, even if you stay on a resort property.
“Comida Criolla,” the traditional Dominican food, is an adventure that will take you all over the world in just a matter of a few bites. The Dominican cuisine is influenced by African, Spanish, and Taino traditions and ingredients. It is a cross-cultural cuisine. This is similar to other islands, and similar to Jamaican food, but is something all its own.
With key ingredients ranging from bananas and avocadoes to goat meat and rice, the Dominican food offers heart-warming meals with an unbeatable sense of freshness.
Let’s look at this distinct cuisine through its most popular dishes.
Our Favorite Dominican Foods To Eat In The Dominican Republic
Sancocho is by far the most popular dish in the Dominican Republic. Every country has a signature warm soup and that is Sancocho in the Dominican Republic.
Sanchocho is normally beef stew but is sometimes made with chicken, pork, or both. Vegetables always make a strong presence in Sancocho, either with earns or slices of corn on the cob or pureed veggies that thicken the stew.
Mangú And Los Tres Golpes
Mangú is not considered a dish on its own, but it is a delicious part of the best breakfast dish in the Dominican Republic. The Mangú component of this dish is creamy mashed plantain, inspired by African cuisine. It is served alongside the amazing los tres golpes. Tres Golpes translates to “the three punches:” salami, eggs, and fried cheese.
This dish sounds simple but offers ample flavors, colors, and textures. Mangu can be sweet or salty depending on the type of plantain used, so, if you don’t like the first one you had, try it again elsewhere. You may eventually find your new favorite Dominican flavor.
Tostones – Fried Green Plantains
Tostones are fried green plantains. Plantains are first smashed, then fried twice for extra crispiness. For the best tostones, plantains that are still green are usually used.
This meal is one of Dominican cuisine’s most popular side dishes. They are best enjoyed along with some fried salami. You can find tostones anywhere around the Dominican Republic. Whether just mashed or fried, plantains almost always have a strong presence in traditional Dominican dishes.
Pasteles en Hoja
This dish is made of … more plantains!
The root of yuca and plantains are usually used in this recipe. They are boiled and mashed to be used as stuffing inside banana leaves. These root vegetables are either used alone or together with meat. Sometimes pork or chicken is used as stuffing.
This meal is hard to prepare and takes quite a long time, so you won’t find it in shops that sell fast food, but it is worth looking for because it is going to give you a very traditional experience.
You are more likely to experience this traditional Dominican flavor in December, around Christmas time.
Catibias – Tapioca Flour Empanadas
If you are into pastries but you are gluten intolerant, then this side dish will be your favorite.
Catibias are gluten-free empanadas made of cassava flour or tapioca flour. They are stuffed with all kinds of fillings, from beef to shrimp and everything in between. This Dominican snack is cheap, easily found, delicious, and, most importantly, traditional.
You will find the most delicious golden Catibias at Meson D’ Bari in Santo Domingo.
Yaroa – Dominican Loaded Fries
Yaroa is a full meal in one dish. It is a casserole made of 3 layers: French fries at the bottom, seasoned ground beef with tomato sauce in the middle, and topped with melted cheese. Sometimes the bottom layer is made of sweet plantains instead of French fries. This dish is adorned with Mayonnaise and Ketchup on top. You will find Yarao in local restaurants and food trucks.
Chicharron – Fried Pork Skin
Chicharron is a special dish that is made of deep-fried pork skin. Sometimes pieces of chicken or lamb are added to add tastiness and nutritional value to this heavy-on protein dish. This dish is inspired by Spanish cuisine, and is usually eaten with tostones.
This dish is most popular in Santo Domingo, especially in the northern area at Villa Mella. It’s also one of Eric’s favorite Dominican foods. Of course, he loves all things pork.
It is a basic dish made of 3 key ingredients: meat, kidney beans, and rice. Avocado and salad may be added to the side. It is a warm, filling meal with no exotic flavors. It’s probably the easiest to find Dominican food, which is served at most tourist hotels as a traditional Dominican dish. Of course, you can also find it at casual restaurants around the island.
La Bandera translates to “the flag.” Some people think that the nomenclature refers to how popular it is among the Dominican locals. Others advocate that the name is because the ingredients’ colors make up the image of the tri-color banner.
Guineo Verde Con Longaniza
One of the popular street foods in the Dominican Republic is pork sausage, aka Longaniza! It is made of minced meat seasoned with bitter orange along with the usual seasoning. Dominicans can’t miss the taste of freshness in any plate, can they?
You can try Longaniza with Guineitos (green bananas). It may sound odd to you, but these easily found green bananas can be boiled for a couple of minutes and served alongside Longaniza for a traditional Dominican dinner.
Chivo Guisado – Goat Meat Stew
This dish is special in the Northwest Dominican Republic, where goats are known to feed on oregano. However, Dominicans don’t let oregano flavor the meat alone. It is well seasoned with orange peel, onion, garlic, and tomato before it is browned to make the tastiest stew. You can find the tastiest meat stew at Azua and San Pedro.
Johnny Cakes – Yaniqueque
They are sometimes called Caribbean Johnny Cakes. They are named after the place that first sold them. An American man opened a bakery in San Pedro de Macoris in the 1800s and named it “Johnny’s cakes.”
These cakes became the traditional Dominican snack. It is golden sweet fried dough made into delicious balls. You can find Johnny cakes wherever you go in the DR. Yaniqueque is the savory version of Johnny Cake. If you ask Dominicans what Yaniqueque is, you will get a very wide range of answers starting from bread to cake. One thing they will all agree on is that it is one of the Dominican delicacies.
Dominican rice plays a major role in many Dominican dishes. Lorico is the Dominican most popular rice-based dish, like the Spanish Paella or the Arabic Kabsa. It is made of rice with one kind of meat.
Locrio de Pollo, which is made of chicken and rice is the most popular one. Interesting enough, there is no beef Locrio. However, there is sardine Locrio, salami Locrio, chicken Locrio, and sausage Locrio.