Warning: reading this might induce strong cravings and spontaneous trips to your local Dominican restaurant.
African, Spanish, Taíno, and Middle Eastern flavors come together to make up traditional Dominican dishes.
1. Los Tres Golpes
A good day, starts with a good breakfast. And when you’re in the Dominican that means feasting on eggs with a side of fried salami, mangú, and queso frito.
Mangú is a Dominican staple made from boiled, green plantains that are mashed and topped with sauteed red onions.
3. Café Santo Domingo
Dominicans love a good cup of joe — strong, black with LOTS of sugar. The DR has a variety of brands to choose from but most households are loyal to Café Santo Domingo.
Learn how to make the perfect cup here. Grab a greca and start brewing!
4. La Bandera
This is perhaps the most commonly eaten meal in the Dominican. La Bandera (meaning “the flag”) consists of white rice, stewed beans and a meat dish that’s usually stewed or roasted.
And what usually accompanies la bandera? Tostones! Like many people throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, Dominicans feasts on fried plantains on a regular basis.
6. Jugo De Chinola
Passion fruit juice is for Dominicans, what orange juice is for Americans. Jealous much?
This hearty stew is Dominican comfort food at its finest. The medley of seven meats and varied veggies is usually enjoyed during special events and gatherings with family and friends. It may take several hours to prepare but the result is more than worth it.
8. Yuca Encebollada
Yucca root (a.k.a cassava) is a simple yet hearty side dish that’s rich in starch and sugars. It’s usually eaten boiled, fried or mashed.
9. Dulce De Coco
Dulce de coco is a creamy, coconut and milk dessert. With only five ingredients, it’s a quick and easy fix to any sweet tooth craving.
10. Batata Frita
Dominicans enjoy fried boniato — a variety of sweet potato with white flesh. Boniato is less sweet than its orange-fleshed counterpart but has a fluffier consistency and a delicate flavor.
Casabe is one of the foods Dominicans inherited from their native forefathers, the Taínos. Traditionally, it’s made by grating yuca into a flour and then cooking it on a hot plate.
Thanks to a wave of Middle Eastern immigrants that came to the island at the end of the 19th century, Dominicans now have the pleasure of enjoying quipes — a Dominicanized version of Lebanese kibbeh. These deep fried bulgur rolls are usually eaten as finger food at get togethers and celebrations.
Chenchén is a dish made with ground corn that hails from the southwest region of the island. It’s a Dominican take on the Haitian dish maiz moulou — a savoury pudding made with cornmeal.
14. Morir Soñando
If you like orange creamsicles, you’ll LOVE this! The name of this drink translates to “die dreaming.” In other words, it’s bliss in a glass.
Mofongo is made with fried plantains, garlic, and chicharrones (fried pork skins) that are mashed together in a mortar and pestle known as a “pilón.” Although it’s originally from Puerto Rico, it’s become a staple of Dominican cuisine.
16. Moro De Habichuelas
Moro is one of the most common side dishes eaten in the Dominican Republic. It’s rice cooked with black or red kidney beans and is a popular dish not only in the Dominican, but throughout Latin America and several countries of the Caribbean as well.
17. Moro De Guandules
Like moro de habichuelas, moro de guandules (pigeon peas) is also a popular dish enjoyed by Dominicans on a regular basis.
Concón isn’t really something you cook on its own. Instead, it’s a byproduct of cooking rice. Simply put, it’s the layer of burnt rice left behind when cooking in a caldero (iron pot). It contains the most flavor and due to it’s scarcity is usually fought over at the dinner table.
19. Habichuelas Con Dulce
If you think beans can’t be a dessert, you haven’t tried habichuelas con dulce — a rich, sweet cream made with slow cooked beans, sweet potato, coconut and sugar.
20. Pica Pollo
Pica pollo is Dominican fried chicken that’s been seasoned with lemon, garlic, and most importantly: Dominican oregano. Dominican oregano (Lippia micromera) is different from that usually sold in the US and is sometimes known as “false oregano” because it does not belong to the oregano genus Origanum. Recipe here.
Chicken croquettes are known in the Dominican as croquetas. They’re often enjoyed as hors d’oeuvres at parties and get togethers, and are sold as street food and a light snack.
22. Chimichurri (Chimi)
Dominican chimichurris — not to be confused with the Argentinian seasoning — are street burgers that are topped with cabbage and a sweet sauce made with ketchup and mayonnaise.
23. Refresco De Merengue
Wash down that chimi with a cold, refreshing soda. And no other soda screams Dominican Republic like Refresco Country Club! As for what flavor to get, be sure to try Merengue — a tasty cream soda known in other countries of the Caribbean as “champagne cola.”
If you don’t see yourself visiting the DR anytime soon, you can always order it online here.
24. Tres Leches
If you’ve never had tres leches I feel VERY sorry for you. This mouth-watering dessert is made with sponge cake that’s soaked in three kinds of milk and topped with whipped cream. It’s popular throughout Latin America and is one of the most delicious things on Earth. Do yourself a favor and try some today!
Asopao is a yummy, one-dish meal that resembles a chicken and rice gumbo or jambalaya. It’s not quite soup, and quite a stew, but one thing it is is DELICIOUS. I like to think of it like this: if stew and paella had a baby, it would be asopao.
Prefer Seafood? Try shrimp asapao.
Mondongo is a tripe stew that most people usually love or hate. If you didn’t grow up eating tripe (cow stomach), this might not be the meal for you. But if you’re not squeamish, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you dig in to this hearty soup.
You can’t visit the Dominican town Boca Chica without munching on some crunchy, flaky yaniqueques. These deep-fried treats are said to get their name from Johnnycakes, brought over by English-speaking migrants in the 19th century. However, yaniqueques are made with flour instead of cornmeal and are completely different from American johnnycakes.
28. Pescado Frito
If you don’t mind your food starting back at you, make sure to try pescado frito (fried fish). This is a Caribbean staple and in the Dominican is commonly enjoyed at the beach.
When people think of street food, sweets don’t usually come to mind. But memelos — also known as churumbeles and coquitos — are a perfect exception to the rule. These tiny pops are made of creamy coconut centers covered in a thin layer of crunchy, candied caramel.
Another sweet snack enjoyed by Dominicans is gofio. Who knew cornmeal and sugar could make such a tasty treat?
31. Batida De Lechoza
You haven’t had a papaya smoothie until you’ve had one made in the Dominican Republic. The secret? Evaporated milk. Even if you’re like me and don’t like to eat papaya, give this smoothie a try. Trust me, there’s something highly addictive about this wonderful beverage.
32. Lechón Asado
Lechón asado is cooked by roasting a whole suckling pig on a spit. It’s usually made to feed large crowds and is a common staple during Christmas. But luckily for you, this dish can be made at home during any time of the year by using pork shoulder. Recipe here.
Introduced by Spanish settlers, flan is a custard dessert enjoyed throughout Latin America and known in France as crème caramel. It’s a Dominican favorite that can be cooked with different flavors such as coconut and pineapple but the classic is a simple, caramel flan.
34. Pastelón De Platano Maduro
This dish is a sweet plantain casserole. Mashed sweet plantains are layered with savoury ground beef and topped with melted cheese. Think of it as the Caribbean version of shepherd’s pie.
Locrio is the Dominican equivalent of Spanish paella. It’s made by cooking rice and meat — usually chicken or pork — all in the same pot so that the rice is infused with the meat flavors. Variations of the dish are enjoyed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and is known in Saint Martin as lokri or locreo.
Majarete is one of the island’s most cherished desserts. It’s a silky, sweet pudding made with freshly grated corn off the cob. Cuba and Puerto Rico also have a dish called majarete. While the Dominican version is similar to the Cuban dessert, the only thing that Puerto Rican majarete has in common with Dominican majarete is its name.
Malta is a sweet, carbonated malt beverage enjoyed throughout the Caribbean. A popular way of drinking malta in Latin America is by mixing it with condensed or evaporated milk.
38. Pasteles En Hoja
Pasteles are a traditional dish served in the Dominican as well as several other Latin American countries including Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Panama. They look similar to a Mexican tamale, but instead of using corn masa they’re made with plantain, malanga or squash, and cooked inside a plantain leaf instead of a corn husk. The filling is also very different and is made with ground meat cooked with Dominican spices.
Combine rum, red wine, tree bark, spices and herbs and what do you have? Mamajuana! Mamajuana is a native drink that won’t only grow some hair on your chest but is also rumoured to be an aphrodisiac. Locals joke about how it’s liquid viagra, so if you need a little boost in your love life why not take a shot of this strong Dominican elixir.
Read more about it here.
40. Galletas Martín (Galletas De Suspiro)
Martín cookies are a family business from the Dominican city of Moca and have been around since the 1930’s. These tiny, ginger cookies topped with suspiro (meringue topping) are a coveted treat for locals and are the epitome of culinary nostalgia for any Dominican living abroad.
If you can’t buy a bag of these bite-size wonders, learn to make your own at home! Recipe here.
41. Chivo Guisado
Chivo guisado is tender, braised goat meat that’s usually enjoyed in the northwest region of the island.
42. Rum: Brugal & Barceló
The Caribbean is known for rum and when it comes to Dominican brands Brugal and Barceló are the way to go. If you think rum is too harsh you should give Dominican rum a taste. These brands place a high importance on producing a smooth drink thanks to an original distillation and aging process done in American white oak kegs.
Buy them here.
Dominican pastelitos are the ultimate picadera (finger food) at any party or get together. They’re savoury turnovers usually filled with ground beef, shredded chicken or cheese. Though they’re similar to Jamaican meat patties or South American empanadas, pastelitos are much more buttery and flaky, and are served in small, bite-size portions.
44. Bacalao Guisado
Bacalao guisado is stewed salted cod — a fish that’s very popular in the Caribbean. Bacalao is enjoyed in the Dominican year round, but it’s especially common during Easter and Lent.
There’s nothing better to combat the heat than an ice cold beer. And when you’re in the Dominican you better be drinking Presidente! Make sure you get it “vestida de novia” which translates to “dressed as a bride” and refers to beer covered in a thin layer of ice. Keeping beer as cold as they do in the DR is nothing less than an art form.