15 Must-Try Foods in the Dominican Republic

By Soren Rivero

Did you know that the Dominican Republic has taken inspiration from cultures all over the world?

By combining flavors of the native Taino people with spices and cooking methods from Europe and Africa (plus others), Dominican cuisine is some of the most diverse in the world. Interested in trying traditional Dominican cuisine on your trip to the D.R.? Here are the 15 must-try foods in the Dominican Republic!

15. MangĂş

MangĂş is served as a side dish to many popular Dominican Republic foods, though the dish itself is just mashed plantains seasoned with a variety of spices. To get the perfect texture, the plantains must be green and ripe, the boiled in salted water. They are then mashed with some type of fat such as oil then topped with a variety of different vegetables or sauces.

14. La Bandera Dominicana

Translated to “the Dominican flag” from Spanish, la bandera dominicana is the Dominican Republic’s national dish, not only because of its simplicity and delicious taste, but also because it looks like the flag! The dish is made with white rice, red beans, and blue meat. Okay, so the meat isn’t really blue, but still serves as a great representation of this beautiful country’s flag.

13. Dominican Rice

Dominicans really know how to diversify their rice choices, which makes sense considering how many different cultures have influenced their cuisine! You’ll see rice as simple white grains with seasoning, to blackened rice with noodles, beans, pigeon peas, and even mango.

If you want to try a delicious Dominican rice dish, look for locrio de pollo! It’s traditionally rice mixed with chicken, but can be substituted with other meats. Another great option for a delicious meal in the Dominican Republic is pastelón de arroz, which is a deliciously-spiced rice casserole.

12. Mofongo

This next dish might seem similar to Mangú, and to be fair, they are quite alike. They’re both dishes that hail from Africa and involve mashing plantains with some type of fat to create a soft and delectable side dish.

Mofongo, however, is also mixed with pork rinds and garlic, then shaped into a massive ball before being doused in a meaty broth. Much like MangĂş, this traditional African dish can be served as a side dish or main dish.

11. Yaniqueques

Interestingly, Yaniqueques is just a stylized-pronunciation of Johnny Cakes by Spanish speakers in the Dominican Republic. So if you hear Yaniqueques being said while in the Dominican Republic, know that it’s just Johnny Cakes!

But what are Johnny Cakes?

These little treats are deep fried squares made of flour, oil, and salt. They're the perfect street food, and often found around the beach.

10. Harina de Maiz (Porridge)

Harina de Maiz is a cornmeal porridge that is simple, sweet, and satisfying – and requires only a few ingredients. These include cornflour, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Harina de Maiz is one of the most popular Dominican Republic breakfast dishes, and should definitely be on your must-try list!

9. Casabe

Casabe is cassava bread, which is made from yucca, a starchy root vegetable with a slight tart taste. It can be used for nearly anything that requires bread, or even consumed by itself! Making the bread is quite difficult and many first-timers fail due to the meticulous preparation, so it's recommended that you buy this Dominican delicacy at a supermarket or restaurant.

8. Arepa

Arepa is a bread made from corn flour and coconut milk, then baked in an oven. It’s much thicker than something like a tortilla for example, and some even refer to it as a cake more than a bread. The taste is neutral-sweet and accompanies any breakfast very well, but can also be stuffed with meats, cheeses, and more.

7. Sopa de Mondongo

The essence of Mondongo is very similar to tripe, a popular stew in other countries around the world. It’s made from chopped beef or pork stomach, sometimes mixed with guts or other parts of an animal. It is served family style and with a side of rice. Mondongo itself also comes mixed with different vegetables such as peppers, onions, celery, and cilantro.

6. Habichuelas con dulce

You can’t go wrong with something sweet, right?

Habichuelas con dulce is a bit of an outlier compared to other desserts in the Dominican Republic, and actually much of an “odd” dessert compared to other sweets in the Latin American world. It uses red bean puree as a base that’s sweetened with sugar, condensed and evaporated milk, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and even sweet potato or raisins. A perfect way to end a savory meal, this will surely make you feel at home during your trip to the Dominican Republic!

5. Frutas Frescas y Aguas Frescas

You’ll find plenty of fresh fruit scattered around the Dominican Republic. Bananas are definitely the most popular fruit on the island, though other notable mentions include papayas, coconuts, passion fruits, guavas, and mangoes! If you’re feeling like an extra dose of hydration and deliciousness, choose your favorite fruit and ask for an agua fresca (essentially blended fruit juice). These are especially good after a long day at the beach!

4. Pescado con Coco (Fish with Coconut Sauce)

One of the most popular ways to eat fish in the Caribbean is a pescado con coco (fish with coconut sauce). It's served just like how it sounds: fish in a sizzling pan doused in coconut milk and seasoning. The result is a creamy, soft, sweet yet savory, and delicious Dominican dish!

3. Bollitos de Yuca Con Queso (Cheese-Stuffed Cassava Balls)

Looking for the perfect Dominican-inspired hand held food?

Bollitos de Yuca are crispy balls of deliciousness made from cassava deep fried in boiling hot oil. There are different versions of these throughout Latin America, but in the Dominican Republic, you'll likely see them stuffed with melted cheese. Simple yet delicious, these are the perfect to-go snack!

2. Bizcocho Dominicano (Dominican-style Cake)

What makes the Dominican Republic’s version of cake so delicious is how fluffy and airy it is. It's known to practically melt in your mouth like cotton candy, and is sweetened with only a little sugar. Instead of sugar, the cake is filled with pineapple jam and topped with Italian meringue for an explosion of flavor. Stop by a local panaderia (bakery) and treat yourself to this must-try dessert in the Dominican Republic!

1. Yaroa

Ripe plantains (either fried or fresh) are layered at the bottom of this delicious dish, topped with a hefty amount of french fries. This masterpiece is then doused with ketchup, mayonnaise, cheese, and loads of shredded meat. The savory flavors of meat and fries mix with the tanginess of mayonnaise and cheese to create pure deliciousness, amplified by the sweetness of plantains.

What foods will you try on your trip to the Dominican Republic?


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