As you travel across Nicaragua, you’ll see the same dish noted on menu after menu: the Nica Breakfast.
Every restaurant offers its own version of this traditional morning meal, so you’ll have to order it again and again (and again!) to make sure you try every possible variation of this vegetarian-friendly Central American favorite.
What’s In a Nica Breakfast?
A Nica Breakfast (written in Spanish as Desayuno Nica) starts with Nicaragua’s iconic staple – gallo pinto. Inspired by its namesake, a spotted rooster, gallo pinto consists of cooked rice that is speckled with black or red beans. Some chefs like to mix in a few vegetables (including tomatoes, bell peppers and onions) while other like the simplicity of perfectly cooked rice and beans.
The rest of your plate is where you’ll find all sorts of interesting variations. At Hotel Guardabarranco, a charming boutique hotel in Granada, the Nica Breakfast shown above came with a heaping pile of scrambled eggs (cooked to order – I could have had them fried if I’d wanted), sour cream, a slice of hard, salty cheese (known as queso seco, or dry cheese) and sweet fried plantain. At other restaurants I was offered alternatives such as fresh corn tortillas (perfect for scooping everything up, breakfast taco style!) and spicy salsa on the side.
Nicer hotels and restaurants will serve their Nica Breakfasts along with a bowl of fresh fruit and a never-ending supply of local coffee, while you’ll have to order these separately at basic comedors.
Make Your Own Nica Breakfast
If you want to try making a Nica Breakfast at home, I’d recommend the gallo pinto recipes from 196 Flavors or Genius Kitchen. The Kitchn has a great recipe for sweet fried plantains, too. For Nicaraguan-style cheese and sour cream, head to your nearest Latin American supermarket or simply substitute feta cheese and your favorite sour cream.
Order a Nica Breakfast in Spanish
If you want to order a Desayuno Nica while you’re in Nicaragua, impress the local waitstaff by incorporating some of these Spanish words and phrases!
- Huevos – Eggs
- Huevos revueltos – Scrambled eggs
- Huevos fritos – Fried eggs
- Platano maduro – Sweet fried plantain
- Queso – cheese
- Café (con/sin leche) – Coffee (with/without milk)
- La cuenta, por favor! – The bill, please!
Traveling in Nicaragua? Make sure to spend a few nights on Ometepe Island, where there is an ecotourism and adventure travel choice for every travel style.
Which country dishes up your favorite breakfast foods? Let me know in the comments (and share a link to your favorite breakfast blog post!)