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

Market day in Nicaragua
Market day in Nicaragua | © Henderson Hills / Flickr
Photo of Jack Guy
3 August 2018

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 | © Lablascovegmenu / Flickr

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 | © Roberto Rodríguez / Flickr


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 | © Arturo Sotillo / Flickr


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.

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