There are plenty of restaurants in Managua to provide visitors with excellent international or local cuisine. However, once outside Managua, the number of decent restaurants declines sharply. The average Nicaraguan will eat beans and rice most of the time with chicken or beef occasionally. Along the coast, fish is obviously a major contributor. American fast-food restaurants such as Dominoes, Pizza Hut, and Subwayare opening new locations at a furious pace in Managua and other cities, and McDonalds just opened their first location on July 11, 1998 and TGI Friday and Burger King are sceduled to open in 1999. So, if you haven't had your break today, you can!
You are not expected to leave a tip at restaurants, but since servers receive tiny salaries, a small tip would be very appropriate at cheaper restaurants. The tip will already be included in the bill along with the 15% sales tax at nicer restaurants, just look for "servicio" on the bill. Another tip: no restaurant in the country offers free refills, not even Subway.
Among Managua's nicer restaurants are:
La Marselleise, known as the French Restaurant, is one of Managua's nicest restaurants and is located in a quite residential area called Los Robles. The excellenct French cuisine is complemented by the live music and native artists who depict Nicaragua in vivid, colorful styles.
Il Groto, an Italian restaurant across from the Intercontinental Hotel, maintains its reputation due to its native Italian chefs who came to Nicaragua during the Sandinista era. It too is regarded as one of Nicaragua's best.
Los Antojitos, located next to Il Groto, provides less expensive Nicaraguan cuisine. The most popular item on the menu is the steak platter which servers two people and contains a little bit of everything including fried cheese, fried platanos, frijoles, grilled chicken, and an assortment of beef.
Casa del Cafe, the coffee house, sports the best pastry and coffee in Nicaragua as well as an excellent atmosphere in which to relax, read a book, or just meet with friends. It is located a few blocks from the Masaya Highway kilometer 4.5.
El Bistro, a small and genuine French restaurant across from the Alhambra theater, offers inexpensive cuisine in a quite environment. The fact that it is near two discos and two theaters, has made it a good place to start the night.
Sacuanjoche, located along the Carretera Masaya near Las Colinas, is an upscale Nicaraguan restaurant which specializes in seafood.
El Meson Espaņol, located in the Bolonia residential area, offers wonderful Spanish cuisine in a nice environment.
El Gaucho, located across from the new cathedral, offers a wide variety of good steak dishes at moderate prices.