Guide to the Food and Drink of Nicaragua

Tostones: fried plantains
Carlos Gawronski / Getty Images

The traditional food and drink of Nicaragua is representative of the diversity of its residents. Spanish, Creole, Garifuna, and Indigenous Nicaraguan cuisines have all influenced in the modern Nicaraguan food, which most travelers find delicious—and exceptionally inexpensive. Getting hungry? Have a taste of Nicaragua food and drink! Be sure to continue your exploration by trying Nicaraguan recipes.

Meals in Nicaragua

The majority of Nicaraguan meals are founded upon traditional Nicaragua foods. Those include corn, beans, plantains, yucca, and peppers. A characteristic Nicaragua meal that you can try all over the country might include a meat like chicken, pork or fresh seafood from Nicaragua’s expansive coasts, deep-fried plantains, rice and beans ( gallo pinto) and a cabbage salad. Coconut water and meat are also a common ingredient, mostly on the Caribbean coast. 

A typical Nicaraguan breakfast that you find in most homes and restaurants usually consists of eggs, cheese, gallo pinto (see below) and sweet plantains, served with white bread or corn tortillas. Fresh juice or coffee accompanies most Nicaragua breakfasts.

Common Dishes

  • Chicharrones: Deep-fried salty pork skin. These are crunchy and delicious with tortilla and guacamole. 
  • Vigoron: This is a classic Nicaragua meal. It is said that it was first prepared in Granada, featuring chicharron, yucca, and a cabbage salad.
  • Nacatamal: It is the Nicaraguan version of a tamale—corn flour stuffed with meat (especially pork, mashed potatoes and/or veggies, tied in a plantain leaf, and boiled.
  • Indio Viejo (“Old Indian”): The dish is an elaborate stew-like dish composed of shredded meat, onions, tomatoes and peppers fried with precooked corn meal, then thinned with orange juice and broth. Adorned with mint, people have it with tortilla.

    Snacks & Sides

    • Quesillo: You might think of it A tortilla stuffed with cheese and served with cream, onion, vinegar, and chile.
    • Tostones: crunchy deep-fried plantains, an indispensable side dish in Nicaraguan cuisine. Also known as platanos fritos.
    • Gallo Pinto: Rice and beans. Mixed with coconut milk on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.

    Traditional Desserts

    • Cajeta de Coco: Caramelized strings of coconut and yucca. 
    • Tres Leches Cake (Pastel de Tres Leches): A cake soaked in three kinds of milk, including evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream. It is commonly served cold. 

    Beverages

    The Nicaragua drink “el macuá”, is a blend of light rum, guava juice, lemon juice and sugar was recently voted the official Nicaragua beverage. Every traveler should try this drink, it is quite tasty.

    When it comes to cerveza (beer), the most popular Nicaragua beer brands are Toña and La Victoria. Bufalo is a relatively new Nicaragua beer. But you can also find international beers like Heineken and Corona and are easy to find in Nicaragua.

    Nicaragua’s bounty of tropical fruits is used in many non-alcoholic beverages, blended with water, milk or yogurt. In Nicaragua, it’s best to err on the safe side if you’re not sure the water is purified; also order your drink sin hielo, or without ice.

    Budgeting for Meals

    In the Nicaragua capital of Managua, international chains like McDonald's are almost as common as authentic Nicaragua restaurants. Head to the market in Leon for some low-cost Nicaragua cuisine, or the central park in Granada for a plate from a streetside vendor. Along Nicaragua’s gorgeous coast, in areas like San Juan del Sur and Bluefields, you can enjoy some of the world’s freshest seafood—including lobster—at beachfront restaurants. Fortunately, Nicaragua food is super-cheap, and that includes the lobster.