Where to eat in Granada, Nicaragua
Food options in Granada, Nicaragua range from the customary rice and bean based gallo pinto that can be found in virtually every small restaurant around town to high-end fusion dishes like those found on the Calzada street; Granada´s solution to hungry tourists lined with restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and more. Figuring out what and where to eat in Granada, Nicaragua was a delicious way to explore both the cities indigenous roots and modern influences. Have another favorite? Write about it in the comments!
The Calzada is Granada, Nicaragua´s solution to hungry tourists; the wide cobblestone street starts about a block from the Cathedral and central park and continues on towards the lake where several popular tours take place. Here are some of the best options on the Calzada and nearby.
Hip & Healthy
Cafe del Arte This little café is just off of the Calzada, attached to a small art studio and the locally owned boutique Ole, and has excellent options especially for breakfast and lunch. Sit at a café-style table and admire the colorful artwork and watch scenes of the city unfold as horse-drawn carriages pass in front of the double doors. They have an extensive and delicious smoothie menu (most for about 65 Cordobas), and we found their sub sandwiches to be a great value served with delicious fresh fruit or a garden salad. Their morning glory muffin is packed with carrots, nuts and apples and is an ideal breakfast when you need something other than rice and beans, and is served hot with butter and a bowl of fruit. Coffee is excellent quality and half the price of several other trendy cafes.
The Garden Cafe Hip and full of healthy options, the breezy and artfully decorated rooms are a popular hang-out for here free wifi, coffee drinks and pastries are favorites along with the healthier options of salads, sandwiches and appetizers like hummus and hot pita.
El Garage You know a place is doing well when they set their own hours, and you hear their name in random conversation around town. We never made it here but ¨The Garage¨ which is located several streets over from the Calzada is TripAdvisor famous for it fair prices, high quality, and good portions. If you make it there, we´d love to know how it was…
El Torritos This restaurant is a highlight on the Calzada, and its bold Picasso-inspired red and black logo is hard to miss. Steaks here were just ¨ok¨ but their shrimp dishes are popular and a vast and inspired menu keeps travelers coming back for more. They also have a great happy hour.
El Tercer Ojo Perhaps the most personality of any restaurant on the Calzada, the bohemian-modern decorations and house-music set the stage for a unique dining option, and its menu of Asian and latin-fusion inspired dishes are an exciting addition to the Calzadas options, but prices are higher than most other options. Specials like all you can eat sushi and 2×1 lunch specials help keep costs down, and this is the only restaurant we found with crepe dishes. Even if you don’t dine here, it’s definitely worth dropping in for a drink.
Pita Pita The Israeli owner and large adobe brick ovens add to the authenticity of this restaurant located on a corner off the Calzada. The only true Mediterranean option, it serves heaps of warm-from-the-oven pita rounds, excellent babaganoush, shawarma, humus and more traditional plates and platters.
Ice cream and Gelato Those looking for a cheap solution to their sweet tooth should head over to an Eskimos ice cream shop for the flavor of the month – at 13 cordobas, or less that 50 cents, you can have a cone of Nicaragua’s favorite ice cream. There is also a Gelato shop boasting flavors like pistachio, run raisin and of course, the trademark creamy texture of the Italian style ice cream.
Pan de Vida If the huge adobe ovens don’t grab your attention, the smell of fresh bread will lead you to this small bakery on the Calzada with several options for the day. Foccocia, whole grain loafs, and baguettes are nearly always on hand and sweet treats like choco-banana bread and cinnamon rolls slathered in cinnamon studded frosting are especially good.
Pita Pita and Nectar are known for some delicious desserts – Chocoholics have to splurge on the frozen chocolate zabaglione at PitaPita, and Nectar is known for its molten lava cake and various cheesecakes.
A Great Steak
Zaguan is known around town as the option for fine dining and the best steak in Granada. Clientele is almost strictly foreigners and several traditional options dot the menu as well as appetizers like eggplant parmesan, Argentinean chorizo, and several cream soups. Steaks are the highlight and the local grass-fed beef comes in a variety of cuts and with tasteful side dishes, as well as a series of chimichurri style sauces. For a non-alcoholic option, they have a traditional a deliciously-spicy fruit juice option.
El Corral was perhaps our favorite restaurant and is known by locals to have as good of – if not better- steaks than El Zaguan at a lower price but with it comes a decidedly more western steak-house feel. Portion sizes are excellent and steaks come with cheese-stuffed potatoes, steamed veggies, and the sauces provided included the chimmichurri like that of Zaguan as well as a delicious sautéed mushroom sauce. The chicken wings were some of the best I’ve had anywhere and the ripe plantain dish is a delicious way to sample local food at the same time.
Most can be found closer to the cathedral, in the central market, and along the lakes edge being served near the parks. Gallo pinto can be found on many menus and vigorón is a popular and filling option consisting of grilled meat, chicharrones, boiled yucca and a slaw-style salad served in a banana leaf. Quesillo is a surprisingly delicious local food consisting of tortillas stuffed with a sour-cream like spread, braided cheese, then grilled and served with slaw. The Volcano Café, located near La Merced Church (the same one that you can climb to the bell tower for a dollar and get amazing views of the city) is supposed to have a great quesillo and they are the only place in Granada that serves the traditional drink called ¨Tiste¨ – an indigenous drink made from toasted corn, cinnamon, clove and other spices served in water or milk. It´s served cold and in the traditional gourd cups. (I drink it with cacao and milk….something I fully recommend trying!)