The Dominican national cuisine, here you will learn everything you need to know about it. I will tell you some interesting and unusual points: where to taste it and of course there will be recommendations for tourists. You will learn what you need, be sure to taste and where to find these dishes.
Table of contents:
- Dominican national cuisine: general facts
- Where to taste Dominican cuisine
- Dominican food: dishes
- Travel Tips
Dominican national cuisine: general facts
Dominican national cuisine is a combination of Creole and Caribbean cuisine. If you describe the national cuisine of the country in one word, it will be the word – home-cooked. All meals are very simple, but very delicious.
The main ingredients used in Dominican dishes are:
- Sea food here is quite expensive and not so popular. Seafood dominican dishes are intended for tourists.
It is important to know:Wherever you buy dominican food, no matter how terrible the cafe looks, remember that the Dominicans are very clean in cooking.
Where to taste Dominican cuisine?
Here is the most interesting. When we arrive in a new country, we expect that the national dishes is everywhere. But this is not the case in the Dominican Republic. You can spend your entire vacation at one of the resorts and never taste anything from the dominican cuisine. Most cafe and restaurants have only European cuisine on the menu.
In the menu of the vast majority of restaurants you will find: pizza, steaks, omelets, french fries with grilled fish. And there will be no real Dominican dishes here.
Dominican food is very simple and very satisfying. If you don’t go further than the coast, then look for cafes for locals at your resort. They are called “Cafeteria”. And they look very inconspicuous, as in the photo below.
Don’t be afraid to go into them. There is no menu, and the choice is very modest, but the Dominican dishes are also cheap. Read more about the restaurants and cafeterias of the country in a separate article. There is useful information about tips and taxes in public catering.
It is important to know:The farther you go from the coast to the center of the country, the poorer and simpler the people here. The more often there are cafeterias or street stalls with a variety of dominican traditional dishes. And already in the mountain town of Jarabacoa, almost all cafe are only for locals.
Dominican national cuisine: dishes
Below is a list of the main Dominican dishes. I will give a brief description and of course my tips for each of them.
Advice:Separately, I want to pay attention to coffee. In this country, coffee is a religion and a national idea. Dominicans drink it at every opportunity. Here they know how to grow coffee and brew. Read more about this drink in the article about Dominican coffee. And be sure to ask for coffee in any cafeteria, they have it very fragrant.
Probably the main Dominican dish. He has a million recipes and varieties. It’s probably like borsch, which everyone makes differently and there are hundreds of recipes, but it’s always delicious.
La Bandera is translated as a flag. Because there is always a big mixture of colors in the plate. The ingredients of La Bandera include:
- Meat (usually chicken or beef)
- Plantains (Green bananas – are very popular here. But more on that below.)
- Sazón (a seasoning blend)
- Some variations of the recipe might include additional ingredients.
Good to know:Chicken is very popular in Dominican cuisine because it is cheap. About 40% of the country’s population, according to official data, is near the poverty line. Therefore, chicken is the only meat that most people can afford.
Sancocho is a traditional Latin American dish (not only Dominican), typically made with a variety of meats and root vegetables cooked in a flavorful broth. The ingredients used to make Sancocho can vary depending on the region and the cook, but generally it will include:
- Meat (such as chicken, pork, beef or fish)
- Root vegetables (such as yucca, plantain, sweet potatoes)
- Bell peppers
- Sazón (a seasoning blend)
- Salt and pepper
- Some variations of the recipe may also include corn, chickpeas, bacon, cilantro and more.
This soup has two features:
- Vegetables are cut very large. Large pieces of meat, whole potatoes, and carrots are thrown into the pan. Even corn.
- They cook it for a very long time, about 3 hours. The vegetables are boiled soft and the soup becomes thick and rich.
Advice:Sancocho is considered a symbol of cultural identity and tradition, it is a dish that has been passed down through generations, and it is a reflection of the cultural diversity and history of the region.
Manga or Mangu
Often many people write Manga. But the locals always say Mangu. Therefore, I do not know how to do it correctly, but I tend to say Mangu. Not to be confused with Mango.
A little about this topic:
- There are many varieties of bananas, but the most common types used for cooking are:
- Cavendish, which are sweet and typically eaten raw;
- and Plantains, which are starchy and often used in savory dishes.
- Other types include Gros Michel, Lady Finger, and Burro bananas which have different characteristics such as size, shape and flavor.
It is important to know:In the Dominican Republic, a huge number of Plantain are grown. They are sold in any store and cost a penny. Therefore, Plantain are so popular in local cuisine. Sometimes Plantain are simply boiled and sprinkled with fried onions on top and eaten. The taste of cooked Plantains is somewhat similar to boiled potatoes.
So, Mangu is a kind of cooked Plantains. Plantains already peeled are boiled for 30 minutes and then mashed to a puree. And the procedure, and appearance, and even taste, it all looks like our mashed potatoes.
- Mangu is a great side dish for most meals.
Advice:Often in All Inclusive hotels you will see mashed potatoes for breakfast. Know that this is most likely Mangu, and be sure to taste it.
This is Mangu rolled into a ball with stuffing inside.
Those who are poorer put inside the mofongo:
For tourists they usually serve mofongo with shrimp, squid and tender beef. By the way, mofongo is a real street food. Can be bought on the street and easy to eat on the go.
Another Dominican street food that is easy to buy along the road.
The dish itself is prepared from, well, as usual from everything that a poor family has:
- Corn flour
- of course bananas, but how did you understand the mangu
- local spices
It is important to know:Dominican cuisine is not spicy like in Asia.
And this very thick and satisfying puree is wrapped in banana leaves or corn leaves.
Very cheap, tasty and filling. And most importantly, it is convenient to eat on the go.
Pastelón de plátano
Pastelón de plátano is a traditional Dominican (and not only) dish that is similar to lasagna, but instead of pasta, it is made with layers of fried sweet plantains. The dish is typically layered with a meat filling, such as beef or pork, and a cheese filling, such as queso blanco or queso fresco. The layers are then topped with tomato sauce and cheese, and then baked until the cheese is melted and the dish is hot and bubbly.
The ingredients for traditional Pastelón de plátano are:
- Fried sweet plantains
- Ground beef or pork
- Tomato sauce
- Cheese (such as queso blanco or queso fresco)
- Salt and pepper
- Some variations of the recipe may also include other ingredients, such as cilantro, oregano, or olives.
Pastelón de plátano is a popular dish in Dominican and other Caribbean countries, it is considered comfort food and it is often enjoyed during special occasions and holidays. It is also a popular dish for Sunday family meals.
Puerco en puya
Puerco en puya is a traditional dish (originated from Chihuahua, Mexico) that is made by slow-cooking pork in a chili pepper marinade called “puya”. The pork is usually a cut such as pork shoulder or pork leg, and it is marinated in a mixture of puya chilies, garlic, and spices, such as cumin, oregano and salt. The marinade is then used to baste the meat while it is cooked over low heat, either on a charcoal grill or in an oven. The dish is typically served with rice, beans, and tortillas.
Advice:Usually, before eating this dish, Dominicans drink 50 grams of mamajuana. Mamajuana is an alcoholic tincture that is generally found in every home. Read more about this Dominican drink in a separate article.
Locrio is a traditional Dominican dish made with rice and meat. It is a one-pot dish that is typically made with white long-grain rice and a protein such as chicken, beef, pork or seafood. The rice is cooked in a flavorful broth made from a combination of spices, vegetables, and tomato sauce, and it is often seasoned with sofrito (a blend of sautéed onions, garlic, and peppers) and Sazón (a seasoning blend).
If you do not go into subtleties, then locrio is like paella.
Locrio is a popular dish in the Dominican Republic and it is considered a comfort food. It is often served as a main course and it is enjoyed during special occasions and holidays. It is also a very popular dish in the beach towns of the Dominican Republic where it is often served with fried fish or seafood.
Closes our list of Dominican cuisine Platanos. Judging by the name, it is clear that the main ingredient in the composition is plantains or bananas.
Platanos is a classic meat or vegetable pie. The filling can be anything. But instead of the pastry, they use mangu.
Read about the country’s drinks, alcoholic drinks, about rum and cocktails in the article at the link.
National cuisine of the Dominican Republic: tips for tourists
It is important to know:Although the Dominican Republic is a maritime country, seafood in the diet of the locals is not as frequent as we would like. And in general, fishing here is not as popular as agriculture. Therefore, it is impossible to say that the locals have fish on the table every day.
- Local cuisine can be tasted in the Cafeteria.
- Be sure to taste La Bandera, Manga, Mofongo – this is the basis of Dominican cuisine
- In any cafe and restaurant they will serve you delicious coffee. By the way, coffee from the Dominican Republic is an excellent gift for family and friends. And what else to bring home, read the article at the link.
In conclusion: the national cuisine of the Dominican Republic is very simple, hearty and delicious. The basis of the entire cuisine of the country is literally 5 products, and here they are in the composition of any dish. But living in the country’s popular resorts, finding real Dominican cuisine will not be very easy.
Delicious and satisfying meals to you on your journey through the Dominican Republic!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental in Dominican (cheaper – only by bus):
- Discovery Cars – a largest international resource
- Hotels and apartments all over the country: Booking
- Vacation packages:
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- GYG – more than 150 tours (whales tours)
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Dominican
- Taxi and transfers from Dominican airports: Intui.Travel