Traditional Nicaraguan Food: 7 Dishes You Can't Leave Central America Without Trying

Market day in Nicaragua
Market day in Nicaragua | © Henderson Hills / Flickr
Jack Guy

There are a number of distinctive dishes that are beloved throughout Nicaragua, and you have to try them before leaving the country. Here are some of the tastiest Nicaraguan foods.

Gallo Pinto

You will probably see this served with almost everything in Nicaragua. It’s a mixture of rice with onion and pepper with red beans boiled in garlic. Some people eat it for three meals a day, and you might too if you’re eating on a budget.

Gallo pinto, a common dish in Nicaragua

Indio Viejo

This heavy dish consists of ground tortillas, meat and vegetables fried together with orange juice, then added to broth. It’s a hearty meal that will fill you up for hours.

Sopa de Mondongo

A speciality in the town of Masatepe in Nicaragua‘s Masaya department, this tripe soup is something of an acquired taste. Although the tripe is cooked for long enough to make it go soft, it retains a certain chewiness that means it isn’t for everyone.

Sopa de Mondongo


This regional speciality hails from Bluefields on the isolated Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. It can be made with fish, pork, red meat or even turtle meat mixed with yuca, banana and peppers.


This corn dough dish is cooked inside a banana leaf and served for breakfast. The nacatamal is made with pork and sometimes chili, served with tortillas and coffee. Not to be confused with the generally smaller tamal that is found throughout Mesoamerica.

Nacatamal and patacones in Nicaragua


Take beef, plaintains and yuca, wrap them in a banana leaf and steam them over boiling water. It takes a long time to cook, but it’s well worth the wait. You might find it served on the weekend when people have had more time to spend in the kitchen.


Sometimes sold as a roadside snack, you can also get this dish as a main meal. It consists of a cabbage salad with yuca and fried pork skin, and it’s far more tasty than it sounds.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Edit article