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In the Dominican Republic, the local cuisine influenced by Africa, Spain and the native Taíno Indians is simple, but ample and tasty. While you're here, our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend that you try the following local staples:
1. Plantains. A Caribbean favorite, plantains are served all different ways in the Dominican Republic. Often served grilled with rice and avocados, or mashed and mixed with eggs for a breakfast dish mangú plantains can be a snack or full meal. We love them grilled and served on a skewer, or just fried and served as chips with a spicy sauce on the side. Wherever you eat here, a plaintain dish is likely to be on the menu.
2. Quipes. A local favorite derived from Middle Eastern descent, quipes are fried and filled with meat, spices and always something sweet (often raisins, dates or figs). You'll likely find these as appetizers in local restaurants around town, and in some of the more casual restaurants at hotels and resorts.
3. Empanadas. You can't go wrong with these fried favorites. In the Dominican Republic, you'll find them filled with everything from spicy meats to vegetables, and in some cases fruit and rice. The most common kind of empanada on the island is filled with chicken or beef and cheese, folded over and fried for a snack on the go.
4. Paella. A Spanish specialty, paella in the Dominican Republic is served packed with local fish and typically served with black beans, rice and meat on the side. If you're a seafood lover, this dish isn't to be missed. Mussels, clams, local lobster and fish are cooked, spiced with annatto and blended with rice to create the traditional dish.
5. La Bandera. It sounds so simple, yet it's a local delicacy. Beans, rice, meat, salad and side dish is known as “La Bandera Dominicana” (the flag) because it's as traditional to the Dominican Republic as the country's flag is. This dish helps define the local culture. There's little variation on how it's prepared, save for a few spices used by different chefs, and you'll typically find this as a plate served for lunch.