My love for travel and food go hand in hand, and since food is such a great tool for exploring a culture, here are some of my favorites from our trip in Nicaragua.
First a generous portion of boiled yucca (similar to mashed potatoes) is topped with crispy fried pork skins followed by a cabbage, onion, and tomato salad, in a chili vinegar dressing. For $2 or less, Vigoron is a cheap, delicious, filling meal that can be found almost anywhere serving traditional food. Some of my favorite ones were at the street food stalls who served it on a banana leaf with hot sauce.
This was our go to dish in Nicaragua. Although the name insinuates spicy, don’t be fooled, it is actually a creamy alfredo sauce with thinly sliced chicken and onions. It is commonly served with a cabbage salad and rice and beans. At the markets find its about $3 or $5 at a restaurant. The chicken in Nicaragua is really something special, it has a farm fresh taste and tenderness I have never had anywhere else. Often times we ordered this only to wait for them to go get a chicken from the yard!
Naca Tamales-Similar to Mexican tamales, Naca Tamales are larger and are steamed in a banana leaf giving them a unique flavor. They are made of corn masa stuffed with vegetables and meat, usually pork. Although popular on Sundays or Holidays, Naca Tamales can still be easily found for $1-3 at the markets or local eateries.
Grilled Fish with Fried Plantains-Because of its vast coastline and large lake, Nicaragua has a plentiful supply of fish, and a large variety at that. For $4-6 you can get grilled fish with rice and friend plantains. In fact, getting a side of fried plantains can be a tasty cheap snack as well for $1.
*Tip-For breakfast order a side of gallo pinto aka rice and beans. With a little hot sauce this is a great breakfast for about .50 cents. In my experience, one can only eat the hostel free pancakes for so long before needing something different.
Nica Style Hotdog Although not extremely nutritious or even delicious, a Nica Hotdog is just a must try when in Nicaragua. A twist on the common hotdog, nica style has a longer, sweeter bun with a skinnier dog. Served with ketchup, mayonnaise, and marinated cabbage (resembling cheese in the pic). For .50-$1 it’s a backpacker and local staple.
Yuca Con Cerdo-Hot boiled yuca topped with juicy marinated pork, need I say more? Savory, salty, goodness for $2-$4. As with most dishes, it is also topped with the cabbage salad adding a little crunch and vinagar to the mix. If in Granada, Calle La Calzada known as “the walking street” has a lot of great restaurants where you can find traditional dishes like this to enjoy while people watching at the streetside tables.
*Tip-every night at this walking street, mojitos are buy 1 get one free. For $1, you get a refreshing, strong cocktail made with rum, muddled mint, sugar, and soda water. On a hot night, paired with yuca con cerdo, this is absolute perfection and all while on budget.
Snacks This is a funny one, but wherever I go, I love to try the candy of that country. They are all different, some delicious, some not so much, but it’s a fun experience. I also pick up the local hot sauces as a souvenir, so when I am home I can try to recreate some dishes, drowned in hot sauce of course. I also chose this picture to show you the beer we preferred called Victoria Frost. Although this name is not exactly appealing, frost actually means it’s a light beer. It was our go to beer because it was not so heavy, was just as strong as the other beers, had less calories (important to avoid backpacker belly), and was surprisingly refreshing, especially with a lime.
So there you have it, some delicious, traditional, cheap dishes to try while in Nicaragua. Although we did splurge for a steak or pizza once in a while, I strongly believe in eating as local as possible. Not only will this save you huge amounts of money, you will also get a unique insight into a culture and its people.