This place featured French crepes, but they weren't available at the time we visited. So, I opted for the Mexican style soft corn torilla tacos, while my wife had chicken. This is a popular place in central Leon, 2 blocks north of the Parque Los Poetas. I believe on the corner of Ave 1 and Calle 1, but wander around area where there's a lot of restaurants and you'll find it. It's a popular place for food to go, and for families. They have deserts and beer. Nothing fancy, but OK.
This restaurant was recommended by the hotel, and indeed when we arrived, the place was crowded with tourists. It's located right within view of the cathedral, which at the time we visited was surrounded by fencing as the plaza was being repaved. There is a wall with the famous writers of Leon, including at the top Ruben Dario. Freshly made Nicaragua style tamales are featured here, which are distinctive for the banana leaf wrapping. Prices are good...
Cafetería Il Capriccio is situated in a beautifully renovated old colonial house, two blocks north from Parque Central. It was conveniently located just steps from Hostel Iguana where I was staying, so I passed by quite often. I liked the bright blue colour of its façade and inside also looked quite nice. But somehow, I was never there at the right time to make a stop. Until the last day, when I decided to have a snack before my journey to Granada.
I was pleasantly surprised by the attractive interior. Tables and chairs are made of wood, as is the long bar and other details, like doors and wall windows. The upper parts of the tables were covered with painted tiles. But most of all I liked the huge mural painted on one of the walls, depicting daily life, beautiful flowers of Nicaragua and Isla de Ometepe with a volcano in the background.
Cafetería Il Capriccio offers some of the best Italian desserts (such as tiramisu, cakes, tarts and mousse) and Nicaraguan coffee in town. In addition, you can get a variety of snacks, sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes.
It is open daily from 9am to 12:30pm and 2-7pm.
Favorite Dish: I had tomato, basil and mozzarella tortillas, and mango mousse for dessert, which made a very tasty and filling snack.
Except for a vegetarian restaurant, I did not try more restaurants in Leon because I found that Terraza Mediterraneo covered all that I needed. I had a very good fresh fruit juice after my arrival in Leon and since then came back almost every day, either for dinner or just a snack and refreshing drink. Terraza Mediterraneo is a colourful, relaxing restaurant/bakery with bossa lounge music in the background. There are four different areas, all attractive on their own ways - sala magica, chill–out, terraza and patio. We found the patio, the green courtyard, most enjoyable. At night it's an elegant and romantic sight which has a classy atmosphere. Terraza and Mediterraneo seem two different places, but actually, the two Belgian joined forces and created one large and delightful place, with same quality and menu. What also makes this a good place is the mix between tourists and locals, that all have taken this place to their heart.
The restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine. Their menu is extensive, one of the largest I saw in all my stay in Nicaragua, offering everything from delicious soups, a variety of meat, chicken and seafood dishes, pizza, pasta. There is a nice small bar if you fancy an aperitif or want to try a French, Italian or Chilean wine from the wine list. They serve lunch and dinner. Terraza next door, a European-style bakery, has a variety of breds, pastries and chocolate cake to die for, along with good coffee and ice cream.
It is open Tues-Sun from noon to 11pm.
more pics in the travelogue
Favorite Dish: I tried many different things here, from nicely warm whole grain bread roll with sesame seeds, avocado soup, tortillas with spinach and ricotta, fish with tomato sauce and shrimp with garlic sauce, both served with mixed vegetables, rice and mixed salad, ice cream, ice coffee and most delicious chocolate cake I've ever try. With a dinner I usually had a glass or two of red Chilean wine, and other times one of theirs great fresh juice mixes.
All the dishes were really tasty. Service was elegant, friendly and prompt. Terraza Mediterraneo is between high-end and a a mid-range place, with main dishes between 10 - 15 US $, and offers excellent value for money. I can only highly recommend it!
CocinArte is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant and café situated in a 300-years old colonial house in El Laborio neighbourhood, a few blocks south-west from Parque Central. On the left side of the entrance is a romantic balcony with a small table. The reading and lounging space boasts a beautiful wooden table with daily newspapers and oversized chessboards. The interior is tastefully decorated with paintings of local and international artists, and there are wooden tables and chairs around a lovely green patio where the food is served.
The restaurant has an incredibly varied and creative menu, including Indian, Middle Eastern, Italian and Nicaraguan dishes. It specializes in dishes like falafel, ensalada mil colores, tofu brochettes, spinach empanadas, pasta with pesto and traditional Nicaraguan dish Indio Viejo (with soy). The house speciality is the CocinArte dish, made by an international chef with 25 years of working experience. They use fresh, mostly organic ingredients. Home-made pastries are always available, as well as fresh natural juices, organic coffee, chocolate and tea.
There are themed evenings, such as romantic Fridays with live music and candlelights and Jazzy Sundays with chess. It’s worth the walk to this part of the town for the unique atmosphere and quality vegetarian food.
CocinArte is open all days, from 11am until 10pm.
Favorite Dish: We both opted for house speciality, the CocinArte dish, a wonderful mixture of stir-fried vegetables and tofu, seasoned with soya sauce. The dish was served in a metal pan/plate on a wooden platter. On a separate place came rice, mixed salad, tortillas (wrapped in alufolie to keep them warm) and red bean paste. I had a glass of mango juice with the food while Petra had pineapple juice.
The restaurant is not one of the cheapest in León (main dishes ranging from 8 – 10 US $) but the food is excellent, the portions are huge and they have many options that are not available anywhere else in town. CocinArte should not be missed by vegetarians visiting León and anyone who want something a little different.
My first morning in León I walked around very early to find a place where I could have breakfast. It was Sunday and every place I passed was closed. I was very lucky to pass Pan y Paz just as they opened at 7.00am. It smelled wonderful from the bakery and I went in and ordered two croissants and a coffee, and then sat down at one of the tables. The two croissants where still warm and the coffee came in a big mug and tasted very good. I returned to have the same breakfast every morning I was in León. One croissant was 12 cordobas and the coffee was 10 cordobas (July 2009).
Cafetin Pan y Paz is a French café/bakery, where you can buy fresh bread every day, except Thursdays when it is closed. It opens at 7am in the morning. They sell different kind of bread, sweet, white and more healthy bread. They also make sandwiches.
In the evening I sat at one of the tables outdoors and had delicious fish meal followed by ice cream and a cup of strong coffee. It began to rain. Rain was beating the ground, the lightnings splitted the sky horizontally and the loud thunder was trembling the buildings. What a great sight it was! I could have sat there for hours and admire this play of nature.
Favorite Dish: I had fish with rice and salad and it was just delicious! Next morning I returned to have my breakfast there (after having looked for some other place but didn't find any - I blamed Mr. Murphy for it) and had waffles. I wanted fruit salad but they had run out of all other fruit but bananas. Waffles were good but nothing special.
The dinner was $20 and breakfast $6.
THE most delicious food I ate in Nicaragua came from the women who grill behind the León cathedral. They grill beef, chicken, bananas, leafy veggie patties, cheese, pretty much everything.
It was dirt cheap, absolutely delicious, and as an added bonus - no one ever got sick from it!
Favorite Dish: All of it.
AND, it is served in a banana leaf.