- Don Candido (Managua, Nicaragua; tel. 505/2277-2485; www.restaurantedoncandido.com): Carnivores in Nicaragua don't have to go far to try some of Central America's best beef. Twenty five different cuts are served in huge portions at this very agreeable, modern restaurant with wines from all over the world.
- Santa Lucía Culinary Institute (Managua; tel. 505/2276-2651): Nicaragua's very own celebrity chef, Nelson Porta, runs this excellent restaurant that doubles as a culinary school. Smoked salmon carpaccio, tortilla soup, and lobster cooked in lemon and wine are all served in stylish and modern surroundings.
- Rotonda Bello Horizonte (Managua, Nicaragua): Do what the locals do and hang out at this busy roundabout, surrounded by late-night fast food restaurants, fritangas, and cheap eateries. Baritone mariachis and wandering troubadours serenade you while you munch on pizza, vigorón (yucca and cabbage), or quesillos (burritos with cheese).
- Mocha Nana Cafe (Estelí, Nicaragua; tel. 505/2713-3164): This simple but elegant cafe offers the best coffee from the northern highlands. Handsome wooden seats and dark-stained tables with polished wood and light-filled decor lead to a little patio out back with simple garden.
- El Colibrí (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; tel. 505/8863-8612): Set within a funky clapboard house with a large veranda overlooking a lovely garden, this enchanting restaurant is a piece of art put together from recycled materials. Mosaic-framed mirrors hang between stained-glass lamps and African face masks, while small colored stones hold down your place mats, lest the sea breeze carry them away. The international, mostly organic fare is a work of art, too.
- La Casita (Estelí, Nicaragua; tel. 505/2713-4917): At this part-farmhouse restaurant and part-coffeehouse, you can enjoy great local coffee, fresh bread, cheeses, and yogurt in a garden by a beautiful stream with relaxing music in the background. Also on sale are local crafts and herbal medicines.
- La Perrera Restaurant (Jinotega, Nicaragua; tel. 505/8432-7423): The road between Matagalpa and Jinotega is one of the most beautiful rides in Nicaragua. Enjoy the view from this hacienda-style restaurant that sits on the side of the mountain road. The menu includes beef, chicken, and seafood, and between courses, you can wander through the outside patio and up into the garden nursery.
- Restaurante La Perla (León, Nicaragua; tel. 505/2311-3125; www.laperlaleon.com): This restaurant's elegant white facade and tall, enchanting ceilings are enough to give you an appetite for Nicaraguan and international cuisine. Paintings by some of the country's greatest artists hang on the walls, and the large salon is framed by handsome mahogany doors. On the menu are Caesar salad, filet mignon, and fresh crab caught the same day from the nearby Poneloya beach. Finish the evening with a coffee from beans grown by the owners on the side of a volcano or a cocktail in the adjoining Canal Bar.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.