by Michael Miller
Lunch on the Plaza. In a recent article on this website I mentioned that Granada, Nicaragua is a popular excursion for international expats living in Costa Rica. Many North Americans are required to leave Costa Rica every 90 days, and Granada is a favorite location for a 3-day "border jump."
One of the big attractions of Granada is the food. Compared to Costa Rica the restaurants are less expensive. But it is not just low prices that draw visitors; Nicaragua has an abundance of excellent seafood, and many believe that Nicaraguan beef is far superior to Costa Rican.
If you are a little adventurous, you should would try lunch on the Central Plaza in front of the picture-perfect yellow Cathedral de Granada. Here you will eat like a local working-class Nica. ("Nica" is the term Nicaraguans call themselves. The term is used for both men and women.) Here you will find casual dining that is fun, colorful and delicious.
You can grab a table under the laurel-de-india trees next to a small pavilion called El Kiosko Gordito (The Fat Little Kiosk). From your table you will hear the clop-clop-clopping of the horse-drawn carriages as they go by and you can watch local women walking with preposterously large loads perfectly balanced on their heads.
There are a limited number of selections offered at the Fat Little Kiosk, but they are all tasty and filling comfort food. A popular dish has chunks of beef with potatoes and yucca, and a tangy salad made of cabbage, carrots and bell peppers spread over the top. All of this is served on a banana leaf. Along with a glass of juice from local berries, lunch came to less than $5 (US).
I am not sure, but there may be a law in Nicaragua, that says you are required to shop while you dine. If it is not a law, it is certainly a well observed tradition. (Even in high-end restaurants, people will wander in and come up to your table to try to sell you things.)
Here at this open-air restaurant, where there are virtually no restraints, you can expect to be approached by all kinds of sales people. (For the record, no one tried to sell us anything illegal.) One lady had a tray of home-made candies and pastries. A gentleman approached us with bags of locally grown cashews. One guy walked up to our table with a display rack of over a hundred varieties of sun glasses. Another man sold hats, dozens of hats.
Of course, there are also people who will provide music. For a small fee you can be serenaded by two gentlemen with a guitar and a portable xylophone.
The Fat Little Kiosk is quite popular and its small staff and tight little kitchen feed hundreds of people a day, weather permitting. Just watching as they produce and serve all those meals is part of the fun.
Whether you decide to eat like the locals, or you choose a great steak at one of the city’s more up-scale restaurants, it is easy to see why Granada, Nicaragua is becoming known for its food.
If you are a follower of my website, you know that it is devoted to Downtown San José, Costa Rica. So why am I writing about Granada? Well, one of the big advantages of living in San José is that, from there it is easy to reach many of the fascinating cities in the region. Granada, Nicaragua is one of those wonderful destinations.
Michael Miller is the author of the first and only guide book that focuses on Downtown San José, Costa Rica, titled The Real San José. Paperback copies are available for sale at selected retail outlets in San José. An electronic version of The Real San José is available at Amazon/Kindle. To access it, click here.
Your questions and comments are always welcomed. You can contact Michael directly by email: firstname.lastname@example.org You can see additional stories that Michael has written about Downtown San José at his website: TheRealSanJose.com