The bread man usually walks carrying a large basket, pushes a cart, rides a bike or motorized vehicle. He has fresh baked bread and at times pastries from a local panadería / bakery. He is heard yelling out “Pan, panadero” (Bread, Bread Man).
Normally el Panadero is out very early in the morning providing the fresh baked goods for breakfast and making deliveries to the local stores and shops. Normally the evening Panadería has a large basket with a variety of breads for dinner or a snack.
This type of vendor sells pan de agua / water bread, both hard and soft. There is sweet bread that is a wonderful with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. My favorite is the garlic bread. It is covered with garlic, salt and oil. Fattening but so wonderful.
Some of the new-fangled bread vendors now have a motorized cart – motorbike with a nice variety of breads, sweets and even cold sandwiches. One of our local Panaderos has a large display case on the back of a motorbike with all sorts of goodies.
Panaderos in Colonial Zone:
*There is usually on that passes by the park San Jose (in front of the statue Montecino) around 6PM. You can get some great garlic bread or a little ham sandwich from him.
Street Vendors sell from carts or little permanent spots in the streets, beaches and doorways in all parts of the Dominican Republic. These street vendors are usually out no matter the weather. These sales people work from their little carts of varying types. Motorized, peddle carts, under an umbrella, push carts or horse drawn carts. Some carry a tray of food atop their heads even using a discarded fan cover as a basket.
These vendors can be seen everywhere bringing products to the people. Some of these vendors walk with the items they are selling dangling from every available place. They can be seen on foot in the streets. You can see them hanging out at an intersection or weaving in and out of traffic. They can be any place the cars are known to slow down (watch out at stops, you may get your windshield washed even if you do not want it). Some of these street vendors have permanent spots. Some are roamers. They are walking up and down the beaches. They can be seen almost anyplace in the country. Many times these vendors can be a nuisance and need to be chased away.
Some of these persistent sales people will take no for an answer while others see a potential “victim” and will be very persistent. All one needs to do is walk away if they can, wind up the window or don’t look at them. If they get aggressive call for the police, but most will not bother you. They see no need wasting their time with you when there are other potential buyers for whatever product they are selling.
You can buy almost any type of food from these vendors. There is such a great variety of food I cannot hope to list them all here. There are restaurants on wheels. You can buy a little bag of nuts, a pack of gum, a piece of fruit, or a few little coconut sweets. There are people selling meats, and the small filled pastries to a complete meal be it breakfast or pork with veggies.
Fruit and Juice
Buy a piece of fruit (to learn some of the names of foods) while walking around the city. A pealed and halved orange can be very refreshing to enjoy. There are many vendors all over selling fresh, and I mean fresh, fruit. Most of the fruits are picked that same day. Since it is fresh picked and locally grown the flavor is so much better. A mango, papaya, coconut or orange eaten here has so much more flavor. Please give some of the native fruit a try and see for yourself the difference.
You can purchase fresh squeezed juice, shaved ice (frio -frio), ice cream, corn on the cob, hard boiled eggs and a cup of coffee or bottle of beer. There are hamburgers (called Chimi Churris here), hot-dog and sandwich vendors. They sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Some sell the fruits already cut and plated which can be a very refreshing and healthy treat. Get a coconut and drink the fresh water right there in the street.
Important: While in Dominican Republic you must try some of these foods sold buy a street vendor. Be careful of anything served using ice. Make sure it is bag ice. Observe their serving and food storage practices also. Your stomach may not be quite as tough as the locals.
Buy some snacks or a hard boiled egg from a small plate carried by a vendor. You can buy fresh fish or even a live chicken murdered and cut up as you wait. One cannot get much fresher meat than this.
The non-food substances are plentiful also. There are people selling anything they can carry, push in a cart, or set up on a street. You can get paintings and souvenirs of any type and variety. Some made in Dominican Republic but most are made elsewhere. Get your shoes shined, buy calling cards, cell phone parts, watches, jewelry (including rosaries), greeting cards, lottery tickets, CD and cassette tapes with typical Dominican music, and newspapers. They sell things for the home, mops (a story “I Bought A Suape” on the Dominican Gringas Blog) , brooms, shelves, mirrors, cane mats and junk that they picked up in the street. There is even a knife sharpener with an electric grinder on his cart.
After a night out it is quite normal for the locals to stop and get a late night bite from a street vendor selling hamburgers, hot-dogs or a pork sandwich. It is always fun to get something to eat on the way to the next destination. You know how a late night snack, or any snack for that matter, always hits the spot.
The food of Dominican Republic / Comida de República Dominicana is a blend of many different cultural dishes all combined to make a style of cooking that is unique to this island. With influences from the Taino Indians, Spaniards, African Slaves and many other immigrants, the Dominican dishes or comida criolla has evolved. The Dominicans have created their own food and cooking styles into dishes that have their own distinctive flavors, tastes and appearances.
Dominican food is high in carbohydrates and starch. Most recipes are not complicated and are made from very natural and locally grown foods that are readily available in gardens, trees and from local vendors. Add a little locally raised meat or a fresh catch of fish, and some sazóne (spices) and you have a typical Dominican meal. Remember that typical Dominican foods are usually not spicy. In local type eateries there is a high chance that you will not see any black pepper. If you ask many will give you a bottle of hot sauce instead. They, in general, do not like their foods hot/ pica.
Breakfast – Desayuno
Breakfast Dominican style has many options from which to choose.
One of the traditional foods served for breakfast is Mangú, which is mashed plantains with some flavoring added and topped with lots of red onions. The orange squash/ auyama is used to make mazamorra that is also served with onions. Spaghetti is also a favorite of the Dominicans. Fried cheese is also a favorite served with fried salami and eggs. People love their oatmeal/ avena that usually a bit runny cooked with milk and is very sweet. Of course, there is always a good variety of fruits from which to choose. I have seen many people eating Sancocho and Mondongo for breakfast as well. To wash it all down have some jugo de avena, hot chocolate made with water or milk, some fresh juice and of course a hot cup of espresso style coffee made fresh to order.
Lunch – La Bandera Dominicana
The typical Dominican lunch, called La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag (La Bandera recipe), consists of beans/ habichuelas and rice/ arroz, meat/ carne or fish/ piscado, and a salad/ ensalada of some sort.
First, the plate is filled with the most rice I have ever seen heaped on a plate. The habichuelas/ juicy beans come in black, red, white or green, depending on the type of bean used. These beans are usually served in a small bowl or cup on the side and you pour this on top of the rice, along with some of the sauce from the meat if you so desire. You eat this with a large spoon and a knife used for pushing the food onto the spoon. The meat is usually cut into pieces and is stewed. The portion size of meat is dwarfed when it sits next to the hugh amount of rice on the plate. There are different varieties of salads that can be served the most popular being, Green Salad / Ensalada Verde, Avacado Salad/ Ensalada de Aguacate, Russian Potato Salad/ Ensalada Rusa, and a boiled salad I love with tayota, carrots and potatoes. When the beans are made just right and the rice has the perfect amount of salt, along with a little concón/ crispy fried rice from the bottom of the pan, this meal is wonderful.
I can see why most Dominicans eat this meal everyday of their lives. It is a joke among my Dominican friends, if they do not eat rice everyday they will not live. After living here for many years I have come to believe this as truth.
Sancocho is the national dish of the Dominican people. It is made with a variety of meats and vegetables such as pork, beef, goat, fish, sweet potatoes. The recipe for sancocho is on our recipe pages. There is also another type of soup – stew type dish called asopao which is meat, veggies and rice in a flavorful broth. Make some for yourself, here is the recipe for Sancocho.
Dinner – Cena
The evening meal is usually something light because the main meal is served midday. You will see Dominicans eating a sandwich or a soup or stew such as Sancocho.
They do eat full dinners if they go out to a restaurant in the evening but at home it is usually light. Maybe they will pick up a snack on the street such as Chicharones, pasteles en hoja a hamburger or some fruit. Along many of the streets throughout the country you can find small trucks selling all types of fried foods and sandwiches. The roasted pork sandwiches are wonderful. Some snacks/ picadera consisting of olives, cheese and salami to go with a cold drink with friends are also popular.
Dessert – Postre
The Dominicans know how to make desserts and sweets just right. They use all the local ingredients to make candies and cakes like no other place in the world.
Try out a mixture of beans, condensed milk and some other sweet and interesting ingredients. The name of this sweet mix is Habichuelas con dulse (habichuelas con dulse recipe *the link is to the old html web site). It is a traditional dessert served during Easter but can also be found the year round if you make your quest in the right places. It is also made into an ice cream that can be bought at Bon’s Helados. I never thought of beans as a dessert and ice cream. This is a must taste for sure. There is also the Dominican cake called Bizcocho that you can get with or without icing. The Flan is sweet and creamy and the candies made from coconut, papaya, almonds and other local fruits are yummy.
Fruits – Frutas and Juices – Jugos
The fruits grown here are the best. There are a wide variety of fruits that you have never seen or heard of before. Some do look ugly but don’t snub them because of the way they look. You have never eaten a pineapple/ piña until you have tried one here in República Dominicana.
The Mangos (season May thru September), of which there are many types, sizes and textures, are wonderful and very messy.
Mangos are best eaten with a knife as the little strings of fiber get stuck in the teeth. Do not let the mango juice get on your clothes because it stains.
Papaya/ lechosa is unbelievably tasty and nothing like what you will find in other countries.
An Avacado grown in DR has so much more flavor than any I tasted elsewhere.
Buy a banana or a peeled orange for a few pesos while walking the street for a quick pick me up. Just make sure that when you visit you do not pass up a taste you will always remember.
You can buy a juice on the street fresh squeezed and many restaurants serve their juices fresh as well.
There are a few different types of oranges. The china, which is the sweet orange, is used to make juice (sometimes it is mixed with sugar to make it even sweeter) and to eat whole. Then there is the bitter orange/ naranja sevillana that is used for cooking.
The Guava/ guayaba, a pink colored, pear-shaped fruit with yellow skin, is wonderful when made into juice or a greenish colored jelly (try it made into a paste and eaten with some cheese, I was shocked that this tastes so good).
I highly recommend everyone tries some zapote juice, the fruit is ugly but the juice is sooo yummy. The Guanabana and Passion fruit/ Chinola also makes a scrumptious juice. To learn more about the products grown in Dominican Republic go to our Grown in DR page.
Whatever you choose to eat while you are in Dominican Republic you should try new things. Things that may look strange to you might be a new yummy for your pallet. Some you might not like but I am sure that most of the cuisine in this country you will enjoy. You should keep your mind open to new taste sensations and try new foods. Whenever you visit a new place it is always important to try something different. You just might be pleasantly pleased. Try going to a restaurant and asking for something typical Dominican. If invited to a persons home for dinner make sure you try everything, no matter what it is. Even if your not crazy about what is served let them know how much you enjoyed everything. They are always hospitable and will probably be watching you while dining to make sure you are comfortable and happy. Many times when you are sitting in a restaurant, having a drink or snack in a Colmado or enjoying any type of food or drink Dominicans will pass by and say “Buen Provecho”. This means “Enjoy your meal”. Dominicans are friendly people and they use this phrase often.
Each part of this small island country has their own foods and recipes. Each dish is cooked in different ways depending on which part of the country you are in and which part of the country the person cooking comes from. There are also have different fruits and veggies that grow and thrive in certain parts of the country. Strawberries are grown best in Constanza, the Bani area is known for its Mangos. No matter where you are in our small island country you will find the most amazing tasting fruits, vegetables and foods all with its own Dominican taste and flavor. Be adventurous and enjoy our original Dominican sabor. Check out our Dominican Recipes and cooking terms.
We have our food words list so you will know how to say the different foods and exactly what they are. Impress your friends…
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