The Dominican Republic has seen many influences over the centuries and all of these have helped to shape its cuisine and the dishes that exude its national flavor. It's through these fusions that the most commonly-known (and delicious) dishes of the country were created. They've also helped to create a unique and diverse range of dishes that make dining in this country such a memorable experience. For foodies everywhere, it's all about the food while they're on vacation and exploring a new place - and these dishes are sure to make an impact on every traveler's itinerary, so be sure to find them!
Chapea is a unique dish that's most similar to a stew. However, it's not a stew in the traditional sense of what one would find in a place like the US or the UK - with a base of beans, rice, plantains, onions, peppers, auyama, garlic, and carrots, it's a tad lighter and filled with plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy veggies.
A brightness in flavor comes from the addition of citrus, usually in the form of sour orange or lime juice, and its meatiness comes from the longaniza sausage that's usually served with it. Alternatives to the sausage include variations of smoked pork cuts, and altogether, the dish is a light, flavorful, and bold contrast to traditionally heavy stews.
For those who are fans of stuffed cabbage, niños envueltos is bound to be a hit. Translated, the name means 'stuffed children' and while that's not exactly appetizing, the dish itself shouldn't be passed on. It consists of ground beef and rice mixture that's wrapped in cabbage before being cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce.
The tomato sauce itself is flavored rather boldly with garlic, oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Basil, peppers, and onion are also wrapped into the cabbage rolls, adding extra depth to an already tasty dish. Traditionally, the niños envueltos are cooked low and slow until they're perfectly tender and nearly falling apart, and served simply with a side salad and some fresh bread. It's a wholesome and satisfying dish and one that's popular with travelers and locals alike.
La Bandera Dominicana
This colorful dish is one that's a combination of various influences and flavors. When translated, its name means 'Dominican flag,' and is one of the most common dishes in the Dominican Republic. With influences from African, Taino Indian, and Spanish cultures, the flavors in this dish are outstanding and come from the variety of spices that are used to create it.
Stewed beans and rice are at the base of this dish which is then accompanied by a roasted or stewed protein. While simple, its flavors are bold and well-balanced, making it a favorite by many and a dish that's commonly found in many Dominican restaurants. What makes this dish so unique, however, is the texture of the rice - it's usually left alone in the pan for a bit in order to get a crispy, crunchy layer along the bottom.
The chimichurri burger is more of a new-age addition to the cuisine of the Dominican but no less delicious than any other dish.
With a nice helping of chimichurri sauce loaded onto the buns of these burgers, which are seasoned with coriander, garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley, there's no way travelers can go wrong when purchasing one of these from a street vendor. They're the perfect combination of a juicy, tender burger, combined with the heat and bold herbiness of a traditional chimichurri. Sometimes, mayo, crunchy cabbage, onions, and tomatoes are added for an additional boost of flavor and texture.
Another authentic dish from the Dominican Republic is chivo guisado, which is made with stewed goat. The goat is stewed with bitter oranges, tomatoes, and garlic, with added flavor from oregano and scotch bonnet peppers. However, the key to creating truly authentic chivo guisado is in the goats themselves - in the Dominican, the goats also graze on wild oregano, which makes the meat just as flavorful on the inside as it is on the outside.
When stewed low and slow, these flavors simply melt together to create a dish that's hearty and satisfying, and altogether unique and intricate thanks to all of the layers of depth of flavor. The result is a dish that's memorable and crave-worthy, especially when combined with another traditional side dish, chenchén, which is cracked corn pilaf. Altogether, the flavors and textures of this dish make it one of the best in the country.