We celebrated our first wedding anniversary this year in Granada. This was a great excuse to visit lots of incredible restaurants during the week and enjoy being wined and dined.
We are self-admitted food snobs. We rarely go to a restaurant unless we have scoured TripAdvisor first and it has highly rated feedback. Both of us love food, and if we are going to blow our travelling budget eating somewhere ‘fancy’, it better be worth it!
Luckily, Granada has a lot to offer, both in terms of budget and type of cuisine. If you visit Granada, be sure to visit the following restaurants that have made our list, you won’t be disappointed!
- 1 Ciudad Lounge
- 2 Bocadillos
- 3 Taste
- 4 Bistro Estrada
We ate here on our anniversary and had high expectations based on their TripAdvisor reviews. They took our expectations and went above and beyond!
Ciudad Lounge is run by a couple: Noemi, who runs front of house, and William, who is the chef. Located 5 minutes out of the centre of Granada, they class themselves as a ‘destination’ restaurant, somewhere people are recommended to visit, where you make the effort to go, rather than a restaurant you stumble across by chance. Here is a place where the focus is really on the ‘experience’ of dining, as well as the food and drink.
We did not quite understand what they meant by this until we tried it for ourselves, and we loved the concept.
Initially, you are taken to sit comfortably in the lounge area where you can enjoy some of the best cocktails we have had in a while, (see below what we tried). This is where you can also enjoy your appetisers, before being taken to your table in the main part of the restaurant just as your mains are ready. This felt seamless and we enjoyed breaking up the meal into different parts of the restaurant.
Instead of offering too many options, Ciudad Lounge has focused on creating a shorter menu of what we would consider fine dining options. The idea here is very much on quality options over quantity. Even though there were only six main options to choose from, we still found it very hard to choose!
Everything on the menu is handmade and homecooked, using all local, fresh ingredients. This includes the pasta sauces, the bread, cheeses, salad dressings. Even the juices and ingredients for the cocktails are locally sourced.
What We Ate
We opted to share an appetiser here, as although these are just starters, they are still large portions!
We took Noemis recommendation and went for the Spiced Lamb Sausage ($12). This, like most things off the menu is completely house-made and comes served with organic roasted vegetables. Every single element was full of flavour, from the roasted peppers, the garlic (strong but great for us!) and of course the tender lamb itself.
We were so torn with what to choose for our main courses. Despite the menu being small, everything sounded delicious, so again, back to Noemi to help us choose.
First of all, we chose a traditional Nicaraguan Rib-Eye Steak ($27). This is recommended to be served medium rare, which is always our preference. This was cooked perfectly. The steak itself comes drizzled with a cacao compound butter, white wine organic vegetables, and interestingly, yucca root. We had never tried this before, but it was delicious! As a staple carbohydrate found throughout Central and South America, it was great to try an alternative to mash potatoes! Plus, it has some great health benefits too!
We usually pass on chicken, as it is so easy to get at home, and it can often be dry. But we were so glad we chose the Pan-Fried, Skin-On Chicken Breast as our second main course ($20). This was so succulent, and being marinated in herbs and olive oil, deliciously tasty. The chipotle sauce it was served with was a great accompaniment, as were the vegetables (again organic) and caramelized plantain.
We barely had room for dessert, but of course we had to try! We were served country corn cake, very light and airy (which was good after a huge meal!) with homemade gelato and a delicious caramel sauce.
What We Drank
Ciudad Lounge has a very interesting selection of cocktails. Sion chose the Cacao and Orange Vodka Martini and Ben had the signature Ciudad Cocktail (rum with homemade fresca with orange and lime). Both of these were light and had a great balance between the flavours of the alcohol and the fresh fruit juices used.
Moving on to the main course, we shared a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc as recommended by Noemi. This perfectly complimented our meals.
A meal would not be finished without a digestif! We sat and enjoyed the company of the owners with a few too many coffee and cacao liqueurs!
Extra Special Touches
Ciudad Lounge is the number 1 retailer of Nicaraguan cigars in Granada and has an extensive collection. They pride themselves on a fully encompassing dining experience, and although we don’t partake, we could see how moving into the lounge after dining to enjoy a cigar would be a nice way for people to experience part of the local culture to finish off their evening at Ciudad Lounge.
Tapas is our favourite style of food. We love sharing and being able to try lots of smaller dishes and flavours in one sitting. We have been to many tapas restaurants across the world, including some incredible ones in Spain and hoped Bocadillos would be able to deliver the same high quality we were used to (spoiler: it did!)
Bocadillos opened in 2013 and is owned by a Californian couple, Carina and Shane. When they moved to Granada they brought their love of food and entertaining and knew they wanted to start a restaurant here.
They decided on a small-plate, tapas-style menu because they wanted a place where guests could enjoy a few bites or a multi course meal. 5 years later the restaurant has grown and is going strong!
The restaurant is uniquely decorated with local masks, huge maps of Central America and plays relaxing reggae music while you eat.
The menu is extensive. While maintaining the typical tapas style, it does not restrict itself to one region. There is inspiration from the Middle East in the form of its delicious roasted garlic hummus, from Spain, Venezuela and even India.
After creating the menu, Carina worked in the kitchen, teaching how to cook the recipes and plate the tapas. The now head chef, Karla, started as an ayudante before being promoted. She has been at the restaurant from the start, helping grow it from a small tabletop menu to a full page menu.
Everything on the menu is made from scratch. The ingredients are sourced from local markets or organic farms.
What We Ate
We ate a lot. There were so many great choices we had to try as many as possible. Here is what we thought:
Roasted Garlic Hummus ($4) – this was the best hummus we have ever had. The additional roasted garlic made this the most flavoursome hummus we have tried yet.
Jyoti’s Samosas ($4) – these were filled to bursting with a mix of spices, potatoes and vegetables. The pastry casing was perfect (i.e not to hard which we find sometimes with samosas). They came with two contrasting condiments, tamarindo chutney and a cilantro mint yogurt. The flavours perfectly complimented the samosas.
Pipian Parmasan ($3.5) – This was a locally sourced squash with a crispy parmesan crust topped with fresh, tasty marinara sauce. Also, a really good way to get some healthy vegetables into your meal!
Venezualan Arepas ($5) – This was something new for us. They tasted authentic and were topped with fresh salsa. The corn buns had been deep fried, but were very light, crispy and stuffed with full-flavoured shredded chicken, onions and peppers.
Hoisin Ribs ($6) – braised pork ribs with toasted sesame seeds and spring onion. We really enjoyed the sharp contrast of the spring onion against the rich and sweet hoisin sauce. The meat fell off the bone and was braised to perfection.
Fillet of Beef ($14) – no so much a tapas dish, but a full meal in itself! The steak was smothered in gorgonzola (or drizzled in balsamic vinegar) and was cooked, as recommended, to medium rare. We always worry about our steaks being overcooked, this was perfect first time.
Chocolate Cheesecake with an Oreo crust ($4) – somehow we saved some room for desert and we were glad we did! This was just the right size for two to share, rich, creamy and smooth. Make sure you leave room when you go!
What We Drank
A pet hate for Sion is when cocktails are made too sweet with too much sugar instead of focusing on subtle flavours. Bocadillos easily achieved the latter.
Sandiavino – This was chilled white wine muddled with basil and fresh watermelon. All of Sions favorite flavours working in one drink. This was very refreshing, not too sweet and a perfect choice to start our evening.
Nica Mule – This was rum mixed with home brewed ginger ale. We ordered this when we were getting full as the ginger ale made this a light and easy drink.
Peruvian Pisco Sour – This is considered a South America classic. We had both the original version garnished with lime, and a special passionfruit version. This was very enjoyable and a great palate cleanser to finish our meal.
Extra Special Touches
Bocadillos only employ Nicaraguans and pay a fair wage. This includes benefits such as savings and loan programs plus they assist with applying for scholarships to local bilingual school!
Taste is a very appropriate name for this restaurant. We enjoyed it so much we went back twice!
Attached to the San Francisco hotel, this restaurant is run by Gert Rausch, his partners and quite importantly, their excellent chef, Jacob. Jacob trained in Germany and has been mentored by Gert for over 8 years. As a result, the food Jacob produces has top class presentation and flavour.
The menu quite literally caters to all. While our eyes were drawn towards what we consider the fine dining options such as the Tuna Sashimi, there were also options perfect for everyday lunches.
The menu is very creative showing dishes we have not seen anywhere else. The first time we ate here we had to try the Pacific Shrimp in Chilli Chocolate with coconut rice – it may sound unusual but it worked well and was the most interesting meal we have tried in a long time!
What We Ate
For our starters we tried the following:
Sweet Onion Soup (market price) – each morning, Jacob makes a new, fresh soup. This had a sweet, light and aromatic flavour which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Chicken Wings ($1 per piece) – This menu really does please everyone. In contrast to the finer dining options we wanted to try the chicken wings with homemade BBQ sauce or blue cheese sauce. A great starter to get your appetite going!
Moving on to the mains we enjoyed:
Seared Rare Tuna in a Chipotle Ginger Glaze ($20) – this was cooked such that it maintained the meaty texture you expect from a tuna steak, while still having that buttery melt in your mouth experience you expect from it being rare. The glaze was subtle so as not to overpower, allowing you to taste both the glaze and the fish.
Hot and Crunchy Corvina (Seabass) ($13) – this was served with a Cajun remoulade and papaya chutney. The batter was light and crunchy, the fish, fresh, and the sauce had an ideal mix of spice and creaminess. We particularly liked the papaya chutney which also served as a palate cleanser.
We were so full we shared a dessert and went with a light chocolate mousse.
What We Drank
Taste does not have a cocktail menu, it keeps it simple offering wines, beer and soft drinks. Since we both ate fish, Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect choice!
Extra Special Touches
Gerts wife, Cynthia, has taken a lot of time to design the restaurant. The napkin holders are handmade metal mini sculptures, and the colour scheme running throughout has specifically been chosen to create a warm and welcoming environment.
We chose to eat at Bistro Estrada based on their TripAdvisor reviews, and it was a great find!
Bistro Estrada opened in 2012. The restaurant is in a restored historic home, giving Bistro a colonial ambience. We took a table in the middle of the courtyard underneath the stars (very romantic!).
Gastronomy in Nicaragua is taking on a new form with the fusion of Nica-European culinary styles. This is something Bistro Estrada is proud to be part of and something that translates to their menu.
Following our visit a new menu launched, offering a selection of Tapas, Bistroganos (for lovers of vegetarian and healthy gastronomy), The Big 5 (dishes for the hearty eater meant to share) and Desserts.
What We Ate
We took the set menu ($12) and for our starters we had:
Seasonal Salad – this was a simple, light salad to enjoy with our first glass of wine.
For our mains:
Churrasco – this was the first time we have had Churrasco. This was a very tender, juicy piece of grilled beef topped with Chimichurri Sauce. This comes with rice and vegetables. We would definitely recommend trying this while in Latin America.
Coconut Flan – this was a typical local desert. We really enjoy trying local dishes so this was the perfect way to end our meal.
What We Drank
We enjoyed our favourite type of white wine, Pinot Grigio.
Extra Special Touches
Having the option of dining indoors or out in the colonial courtyard was great. We really enjoyed that the setting very much represented how the building would have originally looked!
One of the things we had started to miss about living in a big UK city whilst travelling was the option of dressing up and going out for dinner. We didn’t expect to find so many fine dining options in Central America, especially in Granada! We thoroughly enjoyed our anniversary weekend, treating ourselves to some fancy food and drink and going out on “dates” again. If you ever make it to Granada, make sure to check these out too!
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