Nicaragua Food and Drink

Gallo pinto (rice and beans) is a Nicaraguan staple and the basis of all three meals, 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). 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; the older the better.

Specialities

Gallo pinto (fried rice and beans).

Nacatamales (corn dough filled with pork or chicken, rice and vegetables, all boiled in a banana leaf)

Vigorón (yucca, chicharrón (pork) and salad).

Sopa de Mondongo (tripe soup).
Rosquillas (cinnamon-topped corn biscuit rings).

Tres leches (a sponge cake with milk, condensed milk and cream).

Things to know

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. At the other end of the scale, 4- and 5-star hotels often have sophisticated restaurants serving more international fare. Although new restaurants, particularly in Granada, are starting to take traditional dishes and give them a contemporary spin.

Tipping

Not as common as it is in Europe and North America, and a service charge isn’t always added to restaurant bills. 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.

Regional drinks

• Flor de Caña (award-winning, locally produced rum, aged between four and 25 years)

Pinolillo or pinol (cornmeal and cacao-based drink, mixed with water or milk and served sweetened or unsweetened).

Liquadas or batidas (fruit juice mixed with water or milk).

Chicha (fermented corn drink).

• Local beers: Victoria (pilsen) and Toña (lager).

Drinking age

18.

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