Looking for recommendations for Cuernavaca, where I'll be at a conference this week, I realized there is precious little on here about restaurants in Nicaragua. I'll do my best to fill in where I can. For now I'll start with Managua and San Juan del Sur. Unfortunately I haven't eaten out a lot in Granada, but if you search travel sites you'll find some good recommendations for Granada. There is, however, a nice wine bar with outdoor seating right on the central park. I'll add more as it comes to me.
El Güegüense – Great grilled meat and vegetables, traditional Nica food and eclectic live music Thurs-Fri (everything from Nica folk music to covers of Spanish and American rock). The audience is half the fun. (Altamira)
La Cocina de Doña Haydee – A typical Nicaraguan restaurant in Managua with a lovely atmosphere, centrally located. (Planes de Altamira)
Ola Verde – Eclectic food (Asian, Mediterranean) with a local twist using local organic products possible. Many good vegetarian options. Small store with organic food, coffee, chocolate and arts and crafts. (Planes de Altamira)
El Churasco – A steakhouse with a number of locations in Managua, including Metrocentro and Galerias de Santo Domingo.
Casa de Café – A great open air café with good coffee, sandwiches and soups, breakfast. Momotombo Chocolate (local artisenal chocolate) for sale in Altamira location (case de cafe is also in Galerias, Metrocentro and other malls).
El Garabato – Open air café with traditional Nicaraguan food and store with local art and products. (Zona Hipos)
Tercer Ojo -- mixed quality (and too much variety) food from crepes to lasagna. But the ambience and open-air lounge/bar feel make it worth it, particularly for a few drinks when there is live music (Zona Hipos)
Pollo TipTop – Popular fried chicken fast food, at all malls and many other locations.
Cafe Cardamomo -- fabulous pies and cakes, good lunch, all at the right price and in a beautiful home/garden (Los Robles)
Zacate Limon -- Huge variety of delicious sandwiches and salads among other offerings, and great desserts. (Santo Domingo)
Fritangas -- Fritangas are local outdoor friend/grilled food kiosks, usually with tables. I particularly like Fritanga Tana (Los Robles), Fritanga Masaya (just for the grilled beef, also in Los Robles), and all the fritangas in Colonia Centroamerica (there are various).
Lo Stradivari -- my favorite Italian food and pizza in Mangua, in Los Robles, also now has locations in Santo Domingo and San Juan del Sur.
Zona Hipo is in the "new" center of managua and has a variety of restaurants and bars (some mentioned above) and now a Hookah bar.
Zona Viva, Galerias de Santo Domingo is an outdoor reatuarant and entertainment area in a mall that will make you feel like you're in Miami. There variety of mostly mediocre restaurants (including Sushi Itto, one of the only places to get sushi in Managua) all with outdoor cafe seating.
San Juan del Sur:
El Timon -- Our favorite of the beachside seafood restaurants, though you can’t go wrong at any of them!
Iguanas -- Fun bar from morning to night, good meeting place to stop for a beer, and good food (breakfast, lunch and dinner). At night Iguana’s upstairs bar fills to standing room only with surfers, backpackers, expats and locals. It is the last bar to close every night.
Coquito -- Beachside bar with live music many nights. Great place to hang out and have a beer. Don't know how the food is.
The Pier: With comfy chairs out on the beach, this is a great place to have an afternoon beer or watch the sunset. Beach bar food, good for lunch. Mixed drinks seem to be from a mix, stick to beer.
El Colibrí -- Fantastic and creative Mediterranean food in a beautifully decorated patio and house. The Spanish meatballs are delicious.
El Pozo -- Some of the most ingenious and delicious food we’ve eaten in Nicaragua, or anywhere. Christian, the chef and owner does a fabulous job, and the owner of Bambu helped with the design and carpentry of their comfy and cool restaurant.
Bambu -- Beautiful setting and yummy food at a beach-lounge. Lobster fritters, buffalo wings, a lot of asian inspired cuisine. Can't go wrong. Bambu catered our wedding to rave reviews.
El Mercado -- This is the municipal market. While it has definitely been transformed by a foreign tourist clientele (as have the prices) San Juan’s municipal market is still a fairly typical -- if small and incredibly clean -- Nicaraguan market with reliably good breakfasts and lunches for around U$3-4, some of the best eats for cheap in town.
Lo Stradivari -- Our favorite Italian restaurant in Managua has set up shop on the beach in San Juan! We love their pizzas (with any topping under the sun) and their pastas are equally delicious.
Pizzaria San Juan (or Maurizio’s) -- I know you aren’t planning a trip to Nicaragua to binge on Italian food, but when an incredibly talented Italian chef—pot-belly, accent and all—just shows up in a small tropical beach town and puts some of the best home made pasta you’ve ever eaten in your face, can you really say no!!?? We can’t. The pizza is nothing to complain about, but the pasta is To Die For. Get the home made linguini instead of the packaged spaghetti. Our favorites are Del Pastor (if you like Ricotta) and the one with all the seafood (it’s not frutti mari, but something like it).
La Cascada Restaurant (Pelican Eyes) -- A slightly classier spot than most in town. Can't go wrong with anything on the menu. I love the lobster fritters, ceviche, really all of it. Pelican Eyes has the best pina coladas in town.
Breakfasts: There are various cafes that serve good breakfasts and strong coffee. Among them are El Gato Negro (also the largest English language book collection in Nicaragua), Espresso (also a small hotel), and a small café kitty-corner to the market that has good breakfast as well, but we don’t recall its name right now. The Mercado is also a great place to eat a typical Nicaraguan breakfast of gallopinto (rice and beans), eggs, cheese and plantain.