Nicaragua Food and Drink
At the heart of Nicaraguan cuisine are rice and beans, ubiquitous in different variations throughout Central America. The staple rice-and-beans dish, gallo pinto, keeps Nicaraguans going all day, served with everything from eggs for breakfast to steak for dinner.
Other typical dishes include grilled beef and chicken, patacones (fried green plantain chips), and freshwater fish like guapote (bass). Along the Atlantic coastline, with influences from the Caribbean islands, spices and coconut milk are often added to fish dishes, as well as various sweet and sticky pastries based on coconut. The country has an abundance of exotic fruits, such as guanábana (soursop), maracuyá (passion fruit) and carambola (star fruit), which are turned into delicious drinks. And don’t miss the excellent rum.
Nicas tend to have breakfast early and then have long, leisurely lunches to avoid the midday heat. Many mid-range restaurants offer a comida corriente, a three-course set menu that works out cheaper than ordering a la carte. Street food should be avoided unless you have a cast-iron stomach.
Gallo pinto: Fried rice mixed with beans, often served with sour cream and tortillas.
Nacatamales: Corn dough filled with pork or chicken, rice and vegetables, all wrapped inside a banana leaf and boiled.
Vigorón: Yucca, chicharrón (pork) and salad.
Sopa de Mondongo: Tripe and vegetables soup.
Rondon: Traditional local stew (from “run down,” Caribbean slang for “cook”) made of whatever meat and vegetables are available.
Rosquillas: Cinnamon-topped corn biscuit rings.
Tresleches: A sponge cake with milk, condensed milk and cream.
Nicaraguan rum: One of the best is Flor de Caña, an award-winning rum which comes in various guises (white, amber, light and dry).
Pinolillo or pinol: Cornmeal and cacao-based drink, mixed with water or milk and served sweetened or unsweetened.
Liquados: Fruit juice mixed in a blender with water or milk.
Chicha: Fermented corn drink.
Local beers: Nicaraguan beers are light lagers, always served ice-cold. Victoria and Toña are the most popular brands.
In upmarket restaurants, 10 to 15% is customary, but it’s optional elsewhere. If you want to tip, it’s better to give it direct to your server.