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We weren’t sure what to expect food wise when we landed in the Dominican Republic, either cost or taste wise. We were happy to find that the food is good! Although budget options do get trickier in tourist beach towns.
We didn’t find a large amount of variety in cuisine, even in the more tourist focused beach towns.
Dominican food seems to consist of rice, beans, vegies or salad and some meat. There is also Italian everywhere and pasta was on most menus. Hamburgers and chips were also common, although I didn’t have any that tasted particularly good. There are many ice cream places, occasionally with frozen yoghurt.
Parillas are also reasonably common – this is a bbq place selling lots of meat. The few times we ate at one of these, the food was fantastic.
In the tourist towns, we found plenty of places that served more “international” cuisine, things that you find on menus everywhere, like meat and vegies like you might have in Australia, the UK or America, soup, fry up breakfasts etc. There was also a mediocre Chinese option in Cabarete, and I read that there is a strip of them in Santo Domingo. Las Terrenas and Cabarete also had French style bakeries and some European eating options like German and French restaurants. Las Terrenas also had a very yummy gelato shop.
I only saw international fast food chains in Santo Domingo, and barely any there.
The best budget option is a “plato del dia” – plate of the day in Dominican style restaurants which is usually some combination of rice, vegies/salad and meat. These were plentiful in Santo Domingo and there are a couple in Cabarete. Chinese was a good budget option in Cabarete.
Self catering is easy if you stay in an apartment. We never had problems finding a reasonable supermarket. Food was not as cheap as you might expect though. Heading to one of the European bakeries for some yummy fresh bread is a winning cheap option even if you don’t have a kitchen.
In Santo Domingo, we found plato del dia’s starting at 100 pesos. The cheapest we saw in Cabarete was 130 but this was not common.
In Cabarete, it was an average of 500 pesos for a main meal on the beach, but they started from about 300 pesos. In town, meals generally started at about 200 pesos. Las Terrenas had some cheaper options on the beach.
In pricier places, tax and/or service charge was usually added to the bill. I saw places quoting as high as 30% extra for this. Cheaper places don’t tend to add anything.
Alcoholic beverages are pretty much everywhere, especially beer. The price varies a lot, and it is generally pricier the closer you get to the beach. Even great cocktails served in coconuts at pricier places right on the beach were only about 230 pesos though (less than US$6).
My only complaint about drinks? I am a massive diet cola addict. I saw no diet pepsi options and diet coke was rare, especially in a can which is how I like it.
All in all, we enjoyed eating in the Dominican Republic. It would not be somewhere I would come as a foodie destination, but there was enough to stop us getting bored and plenty of good, easy, plain options for the kids.
Currently US$1 = DOP$43