Central America is an array of culture from the sizzling beaches of Belize to the green jungle tops of Costa Rica. If you’re planning on backpacking through the area or just making a trip through one of the beautiful Latin American countries I’m sure you already have a list of must see sites. While plenty of travelers mark ancient architecture and adventure tours on their to-do lists travelers should also consider making a to-eat list. That’s right. Get your stomach ready, Central America has some of the best cuisine in the world. Here are the top five dishes not to miss on your next Spanish influenced trip.
Baleades in Honduras
You might be used to eating stuffed flour tortillas in the States but this isn’t Taco Bell. Like it’s Mexican relative, baledes are wheat flour tortillas and are often filled with traditional Spanish cuisine including beans or cheese. The difference between baleades and traditional flour tortillas is baleades are much thicker and provide a much more fulfilling meal. I ate these often both in the morning stuffed with eggs and cheese or at dinner. These are delicious and easy to find at any cafe in Honduras.
Panqueques de Banano y Macadamia in Costa Rica
Move over Aunt Jemima because there’s another place with perfect pancakes. El Patio de Cafe Milagro in the gorgeous Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica hosts a huge menu full of wonderful choices but one of their most mouth watering dishes includes their banana pancakes topped with macadamia nuts. The restaurant’s chef takes pride in coming up with creative concoctions for his guests. Find more delicious meals on their website and make sure to stop the next time you’re traveling through the lush landscape of Costa Rica.
Enchiladas in Guatemala
I used to think I was the queen of making enchiladas at home until I came to Guatemala and tasted what the locals consider to be a real enchilada. Let’s just say my creation was far from being authentic. The Guatemalan’s enchilada could even be considered what we call tostadas. It’s basically just a fried tortilla shell topped with your favorite ingredients – meat, cheese, vegetables, and condiments. Talk about delicioso!
Hot Johnny Cakes in Belize
Belizean food is one of kind and any local will tell you Belizean’s have a few true and tried staples in the kitchen including peppers (they love ’em hot!) and rice among many other foods. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and lunch wouldn’t be complete without a few Hot Johnny Cakes on the side. Hot Johnny Cakes are basically equivalent to our idea of Bisquick or any other bread roll accompanying the meal except these are much better, I assure you. Hot Johnny’s are best eaten warm with a small dollop of butter in the middle. The round fluffy biscuits can be made into their own little meal if things like cheese and ham are added.
Sancocho in Panama
Sancocho is a long time favorite in Panama and is often referred to as the “chicken soup for the Panamanian soul.” This dish is made with rice, chicken, and corn. If you find yourself homesick in the middle of paradise don’t hesitate to stop and ask the locals the best place to find sancocho. It’s unique flavor will remind you of mom’s home cooked meals growing up and this was one of my favorite things to eat on the road while traveling through the area.