Local Dishes in the Dominican Republic That You Need to Try

The Dominican Republic is a very culturally rich place. One of the ways this is apparent is in the food. Read on for our cook’s favorite dish, and how to make it yourself!

The Dominican Republic, with its stunning beaches, lush landscapes and rich cultural heritage is a paradise for travelers seeking an authentic Spanish immersion experience. While the country’s natural beauty is undoubtedly captivating, the local dishes add an important ‘flavor’. Join us as we explore the benefits of traveling in the Dominican Republic and introduce you to some of the most popular local foods, including the iconic “La Bandera Dominicana.”

The Benefits of Traveling in the Dominican Republic

Cultural Immersion: Traveling to the Dominican Republic offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant and diverse culture of the country. From traditional music and dance to art and cuisine, you’ll get to experience real Dominican life.

Culture Shock

Stunning Landscapes: The Dominican Republic is blessed with breathtaking landscapes, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to majestic mountains. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or simply seeking relaxation, there’s a place for you here.

Lasting Impact on Generations of Young Adults

Warm Hospitality: Dominicans are known for their warm and welcoming nature. Traveling in the Dominican Republic means forming connections with friendly community members who are eager to share their culture and stories.

VISIONS teenage volunteers and students

Culinary Delights: Dominican cuisine is a culinary treasure waiting to be explored. “La Bandera Dominicana” is just one example of the flavorful dishes you’ll encounter. From fresh seafood to tropical fruits, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Cross-cultural understanding

Spanish Immersion Programs: For those eager to learn or improve their Spanish skills, the Dominican Republic offers excellent immersion programs. These programs, like those provided by VISIONS Service Adventures, combine language learning and service projects with cultural experiences for a comprehensive and enriching journey.

Teenagers Become Responsible Global Citizens

Volunteer Opportunities in the DR: If you’re passionate about giving back, the Dominican Republic provides numerous volunteer opportunities. Get involved in community projects, support education initiatives, or contribute to environmental conservation efforts while making a positive impact on local communities.

“La Bandera Dominicana”: A Symbol of Tradition

When it comes to Dominican cuisine, “La Bandera Dominicana” stands out. It’s more than just a meal; it’s a cultural icon. This traditional dish typically welcomes VISIONS participants on their arrival day and is cherished by Dominicans across the nation.

A Glimpse into History:

The history of “La Bandera Dominicana” is deeply rooted in Dominican heritage. The dish gets its name, which translates to “The Dominican Flag,” from its resemblance to the colors of the nation’s flag. The beans represent the red, the rice signifies the white, and the meat, whether it’s chicken, beef or pork, symbolizes the blue, mirroring the flag’s three main colors.

What makes “La Bandera Dominicana” truly unique is the sense of unity it embodies. Just as the flag unites the nation, this dish brings together families and communities, creating a shared experience that’s steeped in tradition.

Marina Florentino: The Culinary Maestra

Before we exploreDominican dishes, we’d like to introduce you to Marina Florentino, a beloved member of the VISIONS Service Adventures team. Marina, a proud Dominican, is passionate about sharing the flavors and stories of her country’s cuisine. Her role in our Spanish immersion programs in the Dominican Republic is invaluable, as she brings the heart of the D.R. to life in every dish. Her dedication ensures that our teen volunteers experience an authentic taste of Dominican culture every day.

Recipe: Crafting “La Bandera Dominicana”

Now, let’s bring the tastes of “La Bandera Dominicana” to your own kitchen. Here’s a step-by-step guide to recreating this iconic dish, inspired by Marina Florentino’s expertise.


For the Rice
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups water
Salt to taste

For the Beans
1 cup red kidney beans (habichuelas rojas), soaked overnight and drained
4 cups water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Meat (Choose one)
1 lb (450g) chicken, beef, or pork, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Salad
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Sliced avocado
Tostones (fried green plantains) or platano maduro (fried ripe plantains)


Begin with the rice: In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the rice and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

For the beans: In a separate pot, combine the soaked and drained beans with 4 cups of water. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, bell pepper, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Prepare the meat: Season your choice of meat with minced garlic, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the meat until it’s browned and cooked through. Set aside.

For the salad: In a bowl, combine the shredded cabbage and sliced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, create a plate with a scoop of rice, a generous ladle of beans, and a serving of your chosen meat. Add a side of the cabbage and tomato salad, sliced avocado, and your choice of tostones or platano maduro.

Other Popular Local Dishes to Try in the Dominican Republic

Mofongo: A beloved Dominican dish made from mashed green plantains, garlic, and pork cracklings. It’s often served with a savory broth or as a side to meats and seafood.

Sancocho: A hearty stew made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices. It’s a comfort food that warms the soul.

Tostones: Fried green plantains sliced into rounds and then flattened and fried again. They are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, perfect for dipping in a garlic sauce.

Yuca con Mojo: Yuca (cassava) is boiled and served with a garlicky citrus sauce known as mojo. It’s a simple yet flavorful side dish.

Ceviche: Fresh seafood marinated in lime juice, mixed with onions, bell peppers, and cilantro. It’s a refreshing and zesty appetizer or snack.

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