THE ULTIMATE FOODIE GUIDE TO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Picture perfect turquoise beaches, brightly hued homes and business facades.. simply looking at the Dominican Republic can give anyone a big crush on the island. After trying the food? Well, that’s when one might fall in love. The Dominican Republic is home to amazing cuisine and unique experiences for foodies and travelers alike. From foods to try to foodie experiences you have to have this foodie’s guide to the Dominican Republic will have you completely covered!
FOOD TO TRY:
When it comes to eating in the Dominican Republic, there are some foods you simply can’t miss, more often than not, these dishes will become your go-to around the island because they’re so nice – you’ll want them twice.
This dish is comprised of mashed and fried green plantains that are mixed and served with salt, garlic and oil. Traditional Dominican mofongo also has crunchy chicharrón (fried pork belly or pork rinds) mashed in, as well. Mofongo can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A traditional, hearty Dominican stew, also known as “three meat stew” as it’s typically made with .. you guessed it, three meats (more often than not; pork, chicken and beef). Filled with starches: yucca, plantains, corn and spices: cilantro (or parsley) salt, garlic, and lime juice. This dish is extremely adaptable to what someone may have in their kitchen. Sometimes topped with rice or avocado!
I mean, if you go to DR and don’t try empanadas, I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life. Empanadas can be found on menus in upscale and affordable restaurants alike as well as from street vendors and quick stop-spots. Stuffed with any and everything from meats to cheese and vegetables to seafood, there’s an empanada for every palate.
From fried pork skin, to deli style ham, to an entire BBQ’d pig, there’s no shortage of pork on the island of DR. My suggestion? Try it all!
If you’re a fan of real lemonade, you’ll love the limonata in DR. More often than not it’s served mixed with a sparkling water as opposed to still, adding a lovely tingly sensation to the tartness of the lemonade – which is also often made with green “limes” as opposed to yellow lemons.
Let’s face it, you’ll never acquire quality rum outside of the Caribbean. And if you do? It was probably manufactured – in the Caribbean! I suggest giving Ron Barceló rum a try as it’s the only rum in the Dominican Republic manufactured directly from sugar cane juice.
Stuffed Eggplant (Berenjena Rellena):
This drool-worthy dish can be found in local restaurants and homes, alike. Each rendition adapted to the chef preparing it, but often the main ingredients include onion, garlic, olive oil, bell pepper, ground beef (or ground beef and ground pork), salt and pepper – sometimes with the addition of tomato sauce and cheese. This dish is definitely worth getting off the beaten path for.
Fun fact: quipes reflect the influence of Middle Eastern immigrants who once settled in DR! Essentially a deep-fried ‘fritter’ these quipes are most often stuffed with bell pepper, ground beef, basil leaves, onion, salt, pepper and sometimes raisins!
Nuts for Coconuts:
I mean, you’re traveling to a tropical island – after all. Although coconut palms weren’t indigenous to the Dominican Republic, locals and chefs alike have found ways to adapt the tropical fruit into daily life. From simple coconut water (served in a coconut, of course) to using coconut milk as part of a marinade, going nuts for coconuts will not leave you disappointed in DR.
Earlier I mentioned mofungo but truthfully, anyway they serve plantains in DR will leave you happy. Head down to Boca Chica Beach and grab a plate of freshly fried plantains to share with friends!
Okay, okay, I know, I’m starting to state the obvious – but seriously, if you travel to DR and don’t eat your fill of seafood, did you really travel to DR?! You’re on an island and nowhere else will you find fresher seafood dishes. My suggestion? TRY. IT. ALL.
Every country has their own style of sandwich and if you’re looking to get a taste for a country you can look no further than a simple sandwich shop. We stopped at a locals favorite in Santo Domingo, Barra Payan. I ordered a more “American” sammy, ham, fried egg and cheese, and was not disappointed at all. Bonus: Barra Payan also serves delicious smoothies (or juices) served traditional Dominican style – mixed with sweetened condensed milk: I highly suggest the orange, it tasted like a creamsicle!
EXPERIENCES TO HAVE:
Now that I’ve covered what to try, I’m going to suggest some special foodie experiences to have across the island of DR. In the Dominican Republic, food is so much more than just what you consume to keep you going – but often an experience to have with friends and family.
Try a Cooking Class:
That bomb sancocho I mentioned earlier as a must try in DR? Why not learn how to cook it at home?! Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando arranged for a cooking demonstration right at their hotel where we learned the tradition of sancocho as well as how to make it at home, on our own!
DR is known for many of its meat-heavy dishes so why not change things up and try some vegetarian dishes? TIME vegetarian restaurant in Santo Domingo was a delicious and nutritious meal! I also can’t suggest the pomegranate lemonade enough. *yum, yum, yum*
Visit a Rum Factory:
It’s one thing to try the rum in the Dominican Republic, but it’s another thing to experience a rum factory. Touring the Ron Barcelo factory was not only informative and educational but it was also fun and interactive! I won’t give away any of the tour secrets but I will say that this is a *must do* foodie experience when visiting DR.
Try the Street Food:
From empanadas to fruits and veggies to even an entire roasted pig – some of the best foodie experiences to have in the Dominican Republic can be found on the street. Locals and tourists alike enjoy these street delicacies and your taste-buds and stomach will thank you after!
From time shares to resorts and villas – the Dominican Republic has no shortage of luxe experiences. So why not go luxe with your food experience?
Dining at Lucia at the Casa Colonial Boutique hotel in Puerto Plata was a treat, to say the least. Luxurious white and grey décor with lanterns above each table and orchids adorning the area – the ambiance alone is the perfect setting for a great dining experience.
Another amazing dining experience was at Sosúa Ocean Village, just outside of Puerto Plata. With gorgeous sunset views from their on site restaurant – you’ll have trouble deciding which to photograph – the perfectly plated dishes or the perfectly painted sunset-sky!
When it comes to the Dominican Republic, yes, the beaches are beautiful, yes you can fully enjoy your stay at an all-inclusive resort but YES you can also have unique, delicious, and amazing experiences experimenting with cuisines and dishes around the island. Take a break from the typical beaten path and explore the island like a local!
BY JACKIE SHIELDS