At the end of the 1970s, many Nicaraguan families fled the motherland for Miami. They fought to start a new life in America. In the pursuit of happiness and prosperity, they established fritangas (cafeteria-style eateries), pulperias (mini-markets), and traditional sit-down restaurants.
These immigrants came with few belongings, but plenty of flavors to add to Miami’s menu. Among them were traditional foods including carne asada (grilled steak), gallo pinto (rice mixed with red beans), tajadas (fried plantain chips), vigoron (yuca topped with coleslaw and pork rinds), and queso frito (fried cheese).
If you seek a sit-down restaurant that provides quality service, fresh food and a burst of all these Nicaraguan culinary specialties, skip the grab-and-go fritangas and take a seat in one of the top five Nicaraguan restaurants in Miami.
The Spotted Gallo
8758 W Flagler St, Miami
The Spotted Gallo is located 11 miles from downtown Miami. This family-run restaurant’s vibrant blue walls decorated with signs of Nicaraguan phrases exude happy vibes. The warm hospitality complements the cool-toned walls to create a delightful experience for customers. The Spotted Gallo’s bandeja chayito ($25 plus tax) is the epitome of authentic Nicaraguan cuisine. This platter includes carne asada, puerco asado, queso frito, tajadas, tortillas con queso, gallo pinto, yuca con ensalada de repollo, cerdo frito, taquitos and plátanos maduros. This well-rounded dish is best accompanied by Milca ($2 plus tax), one of Nicaragua’s most popular sodas, distinctively known for its red hue.
Los Ranchos Steakhouse
Founded over 35 years ago in Miami, Los Ranchos is one of South Florida’s most widespread Nicaraguan restaurants. Its locations include Westland Mall in Hialeah, The Falls in Kendall, Bayside and Sweetwater. The Bayside location has a tuani (“cool” in Nicaraguan slang) view of American Airlines Arena, Biscayne Bay and the Port Miami Bridge. This chain is known for its steaks, as you could probably guess by its name. Los Ranchos’ most popular entree is a whopping 12 ounces of mouthwatering premium cut tenderloin goodness known as the churrasco presidente ($39.99 plus tax). Have it cooked your way and accompanied by sides such as gallo pinto, tostones or plátanos maduros.
10780 W Flagler St, Miami
The city of Sweetwater and surrounding areas are known as “Little Managua” since they have the largest population of Nicaraguans and Nicaraguan-Americans in the United States. If you are ever cruising through the area make sure to stop by the West Flagler Plaza to grab a bite at the Madroño Restaurant. The menu offers a wide range of choices, including traditional breakfast items like nacatamales and vigorón. The hottest item on the menu is the carne asada, a char-grilled steak that brings two sides ($13.75 plus tax). Madroño’s most popular side orders are plátanos maduros and gallo pinto with ensalada de repollo. To top off this delectable dish, add a portion of queso frito for an additional $3. This meal pairs well with Rojita ($1.75 plus tax), a strawberry-flavored soda typically packaged in a 12-ounce glass bottle. The name Rojita (“red” in Spanish) comes from the beverage’s red color.
2025 W Flagler St, Miami
If a friend invites you to Selva Negra (“black jungle” in Spanish), your response should be, “Dale pues.” Colorful lights, mirrored walls, and live music bring Selva Negra to life every weekend. The mirrored walls make this small location appear vast. Selva Negra’s delicious food and energetic ambiance make for a fun time. Ironically enough, Selva Negra is located in Little Havana — one of Miami’s predominantly Cuban neighborhoods. Selva Negra’s presence stands out among its surrounding Cuban bars and restaurants. Upon entering, guests are seen dancing, singing and enjoying largely portioned meals. Selva Negra is best known for its carne asada tipo boca ($11.95 plus tax), which features bite-sized portions of Nicaragua’s finest hors d’oeuvres. One of Selva Negra’s sought-after beverages is cacao ($3.50 plus tax): a milk-based drink that consists of raw cacao beans, cinnamon, sugar, and ice.
Fun Fact: Selva Negra is a mountainous region in Matagalpa, Nicaragua that cultivates organic coffee.
Guayacan Miami Restaurant
1933 SW 8th St, Miami
Calle Ocho hosts one of Miami’s oldest Nicaraguan restaurants: Guayacan Miami Restaurant. Guayacan is a floral tree that thrives in Central and South America that produces tiny red fruit and blossoms in shades of purple and yellow. On Calle Ocho, the smell of freshly cooked Nicaraguan food and the glimmer of outdoor string lights appeal to passersby at night. The surrounding art-deco style buildings and nearby Domino Park make it an inviting community. Guayacan offers a cozy setting, with its artisanal Nicaraguan decorations and cherry wood ceiling. The popular sampler offered by Guayacan is the antojitos guayacan ($24.65 plus tax) that pairs well with a jugo de maracuya ($3.25 plus tax), a palatable passion fruit juice served with ice. Guayacan’s meal prices range from $13 to $75, not including tax. One of the unique menu items is the pio quinto ($5.50 plus tax), a rich, creamy rum cake pudding served daily.