Basically, as part of the market-place, in San Juan del Sur as well as all other places, there is this so-called comedor or: a bunch of tables and benches, where you can sit and eat the food prepared by several ... "establishments" which I really wouldn't know how to call. They're far from restaurants or anything typical known in the restaurateurs world. Just a few women who have a kitchen, cook the typical dishes and serve them. At really low prices.
El comedor in San Juan del Sur's market-place was one of my favourite destinations. I loved the food that they served, not to mention that every day they prepare some of the "frescos" (tamarindo, guayaba, pitahaya, etc.) which are an explosion of freshness and great taste.
Favorite Dish: frijoles machacados. Frijoles (or the dark/red beans) could easily be the corner-stone in my nutrition plan. :-)))
I know the tip is titled "restaurant review" but I am not going to do that.
In San Juan del Sur there are many restaurants along the beach, those were the ones we visited. All nice.
We ate at three different places and they were great. One was actually a restaurant of Cuban food, but... in any case, it was delicious.
Our highlight was... needless to say, eating LOBSTER... Wow! No words can describe the sensation of eating langosta a la plancha con ajo (grilled lobster, with garlic) while looking at the Pacific ocean and San Juan del Sur's beach. INSANE!
Another thing that was a revelation for me were the so-called cocteles (cocktails)... NOT referring to drinks. Nope. Cocteles in Nicaragua are actually... sort of a "salad" with raw mariscos (sea-food, or fruits from the sea). Usually they prepare them with finely chopped peppers, onion and they put lots and lots of lemon juice (actually, lime juice) and serve it with crackers. Fantastic. I strongly suggest trying out a "coctel".
Good food and coffee. Some days the coffee was like cappuccino and other times it came as coffee with milk on the side both were good. This cafe had a no panhandlers addmitted policy which I much appreciated. No need to contiuously shoo and beg off the relentless trinket sellers like at the gato negro cafe. Good food and coffee at reasonable prices. The gratuity or propina was not included and the staff was very attentive and service oriented unlike most other establishments where a 10 percent was tacked on. I was happy to tip this staff well.
Favorite Dish: Daysayuno Nica. Eggs, home fries or pinto gallo and toast and a small juice with coffee for only 65 cordubas (about $3.00).
There are now many restaurants along the beach in San Juan del Sur. Most of them have an open veranda under a thatched roof so you can look out on the beach. When I visited 20 years ago there was only a few.
Besides El Timón (which has great food) I visited a few more. At Vivan I had a big fresh fruit salad for 110 cordobas (July 2009) and at Restaurant El Buen Gusto I had salad and French fries for 94 cordobas (including tax and tip). A mojito at one of the bars was 50 cordobas and an ice cream at Eskimo was 20 cordobas. Eskimo don’t have tables facing the beach, the sunny side, but have a few tables in the shade on the other side where the road is.
I came to Piedras y Olas twice to use the pool for the day and at the time there was an offer that you could use the pool for free if you bought drinks and food for 10 dollars in the restaurant. The first day I bought things for just 10 dollars, a coca-cola, an orange juice (but unfortunately they didn’t have fresh juices), a plate of French fries, a beer and a small water.
On my second visit I bought a delicious lobster sandwich, two coca-colas and a lemon juice. It was 370 cordobas (July 2009), which was about 18.5 dollars.
If you don’t want to use the pool this is anyway a nice place to come to for a drink or food. My lobster sandwich tasted very good and I guess they have good quality of their food. And the view is great.
El Gato Negro is a very nice café and bookstore. If you are running out of books to read during your holiday you will probably find something new to buy here.
I came here twice for breakfast. One morning I had a pithaya juice and a bagle with egg, tomatoes, cheese and avocado. It was 125 cordobas (July 2009). The second time I came here I had granola with milk and fruits and two coffees. It was 120 cordobas. The coffee is Nicaraguan organic coffee.
I brought my own newspaper to read with my breakfast, but at the café there are some magazines to read and games to play.
El Gato Negro is open between 7 - 15 and during weekends between 7 - 21.
El Timón is one of the best restaurants on the beach in San Juan del Sur. The first afternoon in San Juan del Sur I was walking down the street looking for a place to eat. It was Saturday afternoon and Timón was almost full of people visiting for the day or weekend. As it looked popular I thought the food must be great. It was delicious and the service was good so I even came back a second time.
The first time I ordered fish with shrimp sauce. It was served with rice, potatoes and salad. And to drink I had two lemonades. Including service and tax I paid 259 cordobas (July 2009). On my second visit I had the same to eat, but drank one beer (a Victoria). This time I paid 234 cordobas.
Most of the restaurants in San Juan are along the bay front. Just walk and follow your nose. They all generally have their menu at the front door to help you decide. There's one place next to what used to be the SCUBA Shack that now is a tourism office (I think), on the beach, owned by a non-Nicaraguan couple (one is from South Africa and the other I can't remember, northern Europe possible). They have excellent food and ambiance. I think it is called Colibri. Last visit they had open mic on the weekend. Every now and then some one really steps up. Check them out.
At two blocks north from Casa de Oro Guesthouse, and also two blocks east from the beach, you'll see the nice breakfast- and lunch place El Gato Negro: "the Black Cat". This place serves good, western food, and it is really special.
The first thing that you'll when you enter are books. Big, high shelves filled with books that sometimes are for sale and sometimes are just to look in. There are benches, couches and even hammocks inside where you can sit down and read a little.
But the reason why I can here was to have a good breakfast with a piece of toast, some scrambled egg and a chocolate muffin. And to drink you can choose from a lot of different varieties of coffee, tea and other hot drinks and fresh fruit juice. A drink and a breakfast costs around 5 dollars.
The prices are pretty high compared to other places in town. But the food is good, the service is too and the atmosphere inside is the best about this.
For a little bit more money then normal, you can have a fantastic seafood meal, with a fantastic view at the beach of San Juan del Sur. When you walk along the boulevard at the western side of town, you will see lots of good restaurants where you can sit down and watch the sunset while having a very good meal.
I don't remember the name of the restaurant I went to, but it was the third one from the south. Here I had a fantastic fishsoup that was so big and filled with seafood that even with a big appetite I couldn't finish it. Shells, shrimps, lobster, fish, snails, octopus... everything you can find under water was in the soup and everything was delicious! The soup costed me about 5 dollars which is actually an excellent price for such a bucket with soup!
To drink I had another bottle of my favourite Nicaraguan beer "Victoria". And for "dessert" we had a cool Margherita.
But besides all this the most fantastic thing about these restaurants is the view. The view of the children playing on the beach in front of you. The view of the sailing boats moving gently over the waves and the view of the sun lighting up the entire sky in pink and orange colours during sunset. And this view is completely free!
Authentic smoked meats and fish are done every thursday, friday and saturday. What a treat to find great ribs, smoked chicken and fish right on the beach. The place shows dvd concerts on thursdays, happy hour on fridays and varied events on Saturday. Its a great local hangout with outrageous food.
Favorite Dish: The ribs are amazing. slow cooked in a big smoker till fall off the bone tender. Good potato salad too.
This is as fancy as it gets in San Juan. This restaurant is attached to the hotel of the same name. Right next to a beautiful pool, with an amazing view over they bay, the prices are of course higher than even the fish restaurants along the beach, but still very reasonable by North American standards.
Friendly and quick service.
Favorite Dish: I didn't eat in the dining room proper but had some drinks and lunch at the bar and sitting by the pool.
They were still experimenting with the menu at the time but I had a great fish burger with homemade chips (check out next tip for a photo of Laura eating her burger!). The drinks are good too. The pina coladas were my favourite.
Several large round tables with umbrellas and huge chairs sit in an open-air terrace (walls but no ceiling) with plants all around.
Favorite Dish: I had my best breakfast here. Great coffee too.
The chili was just so so.
I discovered Iguana my first day in San Juan and kept returning for the friendly service and quiet atmosphere.
I usually showed up around 9 or 9:30 am, went for a swim, had a big breakfast, read for a bit, with a nice view of the crescent beach, then went back for another swim.
They're open from early morning until 3:00 pm only. Closed Wednesday and/or Thursday.
Favorite Dish: Good breakfasts and fruit shakes.
See above tip for more details.
You can have your meal served by the pool!
(See General Tips for views of the pool).
Favorite Dish: I think that was a hamburger...