Culinary Styles

Photo credit: © Postlatino

The Dominican Republic offers its own special comida criolla, a delicious melding of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno cuisines. The results, sometimes spicy, oftentimes hearty, and always delicious, are sure to appeal to travelers who venture into the island's small, locally-owned restaurants.

Many vacationers who visit the Dominican Republic find themselves in fancy all-inclusive resorts with packages that include a full meal plan. The fare at these hotels often includes a full assortment of international cuisines and styles from fast food burgers to Chinese, and Italian food to buffets. But travelers who confine themselves to these options are missing out on the wonderfully colorful and diverse culinary options available outside of the resorts.

With the mixing of the indigenous Taíno, Spanish, and imported African slaves who worked on the sugar cane plantations, the cuisine on the island became an interesting combination of influences and spices which now rivals any cuisine in the Caribbean. Santo Domingo has a large selection of both local and international-style restaurants, and small mom-and-pop establishments throughout the island are a good way to get a feel for the cuisine.

The cuisine in the Dominican Republic is based largely on combinations of meat, rice, beans, vegetables, and stews. Chicken and goat are both widely eaten, but beef, pork, and seafood are all readily available. La bandera, the national dish, is a popular combination of white rice, red beans, fried plantains, vegetables, and some sort of meat, usually broiled, grilled, or fried chicken. Sancocho, another widely eaten dish that is in fact the national dish, is a stew made of five meats served with rice and vegetables. Many dishes are served with fried plantains (plátanos), red or black beans, peas, and vegetables. Seafood available on the island includes lambi (conch), chillo (red snapper), mero (seabass), and cangrejo (crab).

Chivo is a roasted goat dish...


A breakfast favorite is scrambled eggs and mangú, a cassava, taro, or plantain which can be boiled, fried, or mashed with onion, cheese, or fried meat.  Arroz con pollo and sopa de polla are both popular chicken and rice dishes, the latter being served in a stew. Chivo is a roasted goat dish, and variations of the dish can be found throughout the different regions of the country. Mondongo is a stew made of entrails and tripe.

Food in the Dominican Republic, especially seafood, is often prepared in different ways or with different accompanying stews. The following is a list of some of the preparations you may encounter.

  • Sofrito, a hearty and spicy stew made with peppers, tomatoes, herbs such as cilantro, and other ingredients to flavor rice and meat.

  • Criolla, is a spicy tomato based sauce that adds flair to meats and starches.

  • Con coco is a coconut, garlic, and tomato sauce used on fish.

  • A la crema is a creamy white Bechamel sauce.

  • Al ajillo is the addition of extra garlic in the preparation of a meal.

These are just a few of the inventive ways that chefs in the Dominican Republic garnish, flavor, and season their foods. Other sauces feature oregano, garlic, lemon, cream, and tomatoes - all with mouthwatering results.

Dominican Republic desserts can be as simple as fresh fruits (which just seem to taste better in the Dominican Republic) such as pineapple, papaya, mango, pomegranate, and oranges; or a little more complicated, that require some preparation.  Habichuelas con dulce (sweet cream of beans), memelos (lolipops filled with coconut fudge), bizcocho dominicano (traditional Dominican cake filled with fruit, typically pineapple), arroz con leche (rice pudding), coconets (coconut biscuits), flan, and paleta de coco (coconut popsicles) are a few desserts worth mentioning.

As far as beverages are concerned, vacationers will find the unique coffee and orange juice to be heavily sweetened, but among the best that they have ever sampled. Warm weather favorites include coconut water or milk, fruit drinks, and fruit shakes. The beer of choice on the island is Presidente, and Malta Moreno serves as a non-alcoholic choice similar to beer.  Malta Moreno is sweet, often mixed with condensed or evaporated milk, has been made into a popular flavor of ice cream, and is actually quite nutritional.  Barceló and Bermúdez are popular rums, to be drank straight up or in a variety of mixed drinks.

After reading all about the delectable food available in the Dominican Republic, wipe the drool from your lip and begin planning your gastronomical path through the country.  You can search for restaurants based on the type of cuisine that they serve when you visit our Restaurant Directory.  Click here to search for a specific locale by name.  Another great way to learn about island eateries is by finding out what is located near your accommodations.  As you search for a place to stay, check out our A to Z: Hotels in Detail page.  Here, you can select different hotels on the island, and learn about the amenities they offer.  A list of surrounding attractions, including restaurants is also provided.  To find out which hotels have restaurants on property, read our article on the Best Hotels for Dinning Options.

Visitors to the Dominican Republic who take the opportunity to experiment and indulge in local cuisine will not disappoint their stomachs.


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