Friday, March 18, 2011

Dining in Granada, Nicaragua

Granada is one of the top destinations for visitors in Central America. Located on the northwestern shore of massive Lake Nicaragua, it is a city steeped in its Spanish colonial past that dates back to the arrival of its founder, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1524. Its rich colonial heritage can be seen in everything from the colorful architecture of its historic structures and the Parque Central (Central Square) to its beautiful and colorful churches. The city also offers every type of dining experience ranging from simple stalls on the main square to fine dining experiences with white table linens.

Several of the following restaurants have received praise by major publications that include The New York Times and Condé Nast Traveler magazine as well as features on the Travel and Discovery television networks.  Here are several great suggestions for your next visit to Granada.

El Arcangel Restaurant at the Hotel La Gran Francia

Located on the southeast corner of the Central Square, this restaurant is actually across the street from the main lobby of the hotel, which is one of the fanciest hotels in the city. It offers everything of what Granada is all about: beautiful architecture, a relaxing courtyard, ornate carvings and former ruins restored to its original splendor. It includes several sitting areas with my two favorites locations: the downstairs inner courtyard and the upper balcony that overlooks the main square. Whether upstairs or downstairs, the service is great and food is delicious. Their specialties includes marinated beef and broiled snapper as well as reasonably priced imported wines.

Las Colinas

Located in Barrio Las Sabanetas, this unassuming restaurant is my top choice for dining especially for the Cocibolca Guapote. This ugly-looking but delicious fish from Lake Nicaragua is deep fried and covered in a tomato and onion sauce served with lime, rice and a small salad. You know it is a special place due to the fact that even locals go to this restaurant. My extended family in Managua first told me about the place and they still make the journey to have this dish today. The restaurant itself has a sand floor and a thatch roof, which only adds to the relaxed atmosphere. In my experience, some of the best food is served in these out-of-the-way locations with no need for fancy tablecloths or upscale service. Las Colinas is one of these places. Just make sure to go earlier in the evening in order to find a taxi back to central Granada.

El Tranvía

Located on Calle La Calzada near the cathedral, this intimate restaurant is part of the Hotel Darío, which was completely refurbished with antique furniture. It specializes in upscale seafood dishes complete with white tablecloth, high ceilings and large doors that look out on the street. The lobster is specially brought in from the Corn Islands and each dish is a fusion of Latin and Caribbean styles prepared by the executive chef. My recommendation would be to pair the dinners with any of the Chilean wines from the varied wine list. The service is friendly even though the waiters are somewhat formal. In usual Nicaraguan fashion, the busier nights include wandering musicians who gladly perform songs (for a well-deserved gratuity).

Café Melba

Located within a simple colonial building on Calle El Martiro about a half-block from Calle La Calzada, this café is the vegetarian option for visitors. Managed by a former Californian, it offers a full range of vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as delicious tapas. One of my favorite dishes is the breakfast that includes delicious home-made potato pancakes. Any of the menu’s selections along with hot cup of Nicaraguan coffee is a fitting start to a day of exploration.

For more information about the city of Granada, read my post Exploring Granada in Nicaragua.

1 comment:

  1. I like Charlies restaurent, 10 minutes drive from the city.