The 14 Best Nicaraguan Restaurants In Miami – Miami – The Infatuation

Miami is home to the largest Nicaraguan enclave in the United States, and this community’s food doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. Many may see Nicaraguan food as solely belonging to inexpensive, super casual counter service restaurants called fritangas. However, Miami’s Nicaraguan food is diverse. We have elegant sit-down restaurants serving up prime cuts of beef, bakeries famous for buttery cakes, and icy raspados perfect for a stupidly hot day. These are our favorite restaurants that showcase the delicious diversity of Nicaraguan food.


If your only experience of Nicaraguan food is a 24-hour fritanga, you really need to go to Madroño. Located in Sweetwater, the heart of the Nica expat community, this restaurant is so chic that you’ll think it was plucked from the Design District and dropped into a strip mall next to a Sedano’s. Madroño’s menu features a lot of Nicaraguan classics done better than anywhere else in Miami, and you can sense the attention to every detail in every dish. The tajadas are crunchy and never greasy, you can taste each individual grain of rice in the gallo pinto, and every element of their nacatamal is flawless. While we still love our fritangas, it’s hard not to think about Madroño’s meltingly tender carne asada whenever we’re lining up for a styrofoam box from a steam counter.

There’s something to be said about a place that specializes in one thing, And Quesillos Guiliguiste is a perfect example. This place specializes in its namesake, the quesillo. This popular Nicaraguan snack consists of a braid of homemade, squeaky uncultured cheese similar to fresh mozzarella, but a little firmer. It gets wrapped in a thick Nicaraguan-style corn tortilla, loaded up with a tangy onion salsa, placed into a small plastic sandwich bag, and then drowned in a torrent of housemade cultured cream. If you wait a few minutes before digging in, the cream has a chance to meld with the salsa and soften the tortilla, making it easy to eat with a fork. Some may advise you to bite off a corner of the bag and suck out the tangy crema that forms at the bottom. If you’re unsure of how to gracefully eat a quesillo, just ask the owner, who’s more than happy to explain the dish and how to eat it without half of it ending up on your shirt.

Caña Brava is a fritanga in Little Havana that feels a bit more formal than the other fritangas we’ve been to in Miami. It has a big, wood-accented dining room with Nicaraguan landmarks etched into the mirrored ceiling. They serve solid fritanga staples—carne asada, gallo pinto, and queso frito—but the real attraction is the huge variety of dishes you may not see at other fritangas, like achiote-rubbed pork cutlets, white rice, and rich Nicaraguan refried beans, or a bowl of Indio Viejo. If you just want a few snacks, order the tacos with a generous side of crema or the crunchy tajadas. They even have a selection of homemade sweets, including buñuelos—fried dough balls enriched with cheese and crema that are drowned in a caramel syrup.

PInolandia is another great fritanga that’s open 24 hours a day and constantly churns out freshly grilled carne asada. This place is a little more spartan than some of its nearby competitors, although dedicated fans keep coming back for expertly grilled meats, crunchy rolled tacos with a virtual swimming pool of crema, and savory tomato-based stews. Like almost all fritangas in Miami, make sure to order a traditional drink with your food, like a sweet barley tea that’s supposed to settle the stomach after a plate of rich food (or a night of drinking).

For a city that gets so infernally hot, Miami has a severe lack of shaved ice. Fortunately, Raspados Loly’s in Sweetwater has been picking up the slack for several decades, although this family-owned shaved ice and ice cream shop got its start over 50 years ago in Nicaragua. There, the family’s matriarch experimented with her own creations, like burying buttery cubes of Nicaraguan pound cake and housemade dulce de leche between layers of crushed ice. Loly’s masterpieces also feature the family’s own homemade jams made with Central American fruit (we love the nance). The raspados are enormous, and the ice is crushed in such a way that it melts slowly—meaning you can take your time and enjoy it even on the hottest day of summer.

This Little Havana restaurant follows the same casual fritanga format you’ll find at many other spots around the city. However, unlike many of those, Rakachaka Grill y Más has upgraded the fritanga experience by offering a more polished dining room while maintaining the traditional low-key vibe. And the food follows suit with favorites like carne asada, gallo pinto, thick corn tortillas, and a whole lot more.

Long before Brazilian rodizio steakhouses became ubiquitous in Miami, Nicaraguans held down the fort when it came to fancy Latino-style palaces of beef—and none more so than Los Ranchos, which has been a local institution since 1981. The original location on 107th Avenue in Sweetwater (now sadly closed) was not only a place where Miami’s Nicaraguan community could sample a taste of home, but also a community center where refugees displaced by the Sandinista regime discussed their homeland’s politics. Los Ranchos currently has three locations in Miami, including one at Bayside Marketplace. The menu includes traditional favorites, like carne asada, as well as more creative dishes, like emerald fish, which is drenched in a creamy spinach sauce.

El Novillo is a great upscale option with an impressive selection of grilled meats, including a taconazo—a cut of beef resembling a high heel—as well as traditional appetizers, like vigorón, a heap of tangy cabbage salad and boiled yucca topped with crunchy chicharrones. This place also prepares some hard-to-find, old school continental dishes like steak medallions in a marchand de vin sauce and lobster thermidor. However, one of the real draws here is its interior, which is made to resemble a traditional colonial plaza in Nicaragua, complete with a gurgling fountain in the middle of the main dining room.

Tres leches is one of the most popular desserts in Miami. Is it Mexican? Is it Cuban? If you ask Nicaraguans (and many Miamians, too), you will undoubtedly get the same answer: tres leches is 100% Nicaraguan. And while there are plenty of places to get it in Miami, Tres Leches Factory in Doral is one of the best. Tres Leches Factory also offers a cuatro leches topped with dulce de leche, a chocolate tres leches, and a ponche-like boozy tres leches infused with rum, along with a selection of flans too.

This casual East Little Havana spot has been feeding Miami’s Nicaraguan community for decades, although it’s not just the food that draws people in—Yambo is also open 24/7/365, making it a favorite stop after a long night out. No matter when you come, you’ll find a diverse crowd waiting for plates of fresh-off-the-grill carne asada, fluffy gallo pinto, and crisp fried cheese. While there is a wonderfully maximalist cowboy-ish dining room with table service, most people line up at the outdoor steam counter. They have a covered patio decorated to look like a roadside restaurant in Nicaragua, complete with plaques featuring cheeky Spanish sayings.

Kendall isn’t the first place that comes to mind when most Miamians think of where to find the best Nicaraguan food—unless you’ve been to Fritanga Monimbo. Fritanga Monimbo always delivers everything we want when we’re in a Nicaraguan mood, and it has become one of the go-to fritangas for residents of this huge swath of unincorporated Miami-Dade County. Besides serving well-executed grilled meats and refreshing drinks, this place also specializes in some harder-to-find specialties, including a braised tongue that is as tender as filet mignon.

This Sweetwater bakery isn’t the type of place where you can grab a table and sit while enjoying baked goods and a cup of coffee. Instead, it runs mostly as a takeout operation and is the go-to source for rich special occasion cakes mounded with sweet frosting in baroque swirls and rosettes. They make a mean tres leches cake. But don’t let that be the only thing you get here. The guava cake is awesome, and highlights the fruit’s subtle tartness while giving the cake a soft pink hue. This bakery is also one of the best places in Miami to get buttery loaves of traditional Nicaraguan pound cake.

If you’re looking for a place that’s between the fast-casual vibe of a fritanga and the opulence of a more formal Nicaraguan-style steakhouse, then Cerro Negro off of West Flagler Street by Fontainebleau is the place to go. This casual restaurant has a polished yet low-key feel that’s perfect for a relaxed second date or weekday dinner with friends. The leather-bound menus are full of the usual suspects, including a selection of grilled meats, gallo pinto, and exceptional fried cheese. There are also several seafood options to choose from, including pargo a la tipitapa, a whole deep-fried snapper topped with an onion and tomato sauce. However, the soups, which arrive at the table in small cast aluminum cauldrons, shouldn’t be missed. Sopa de cola, a clear oxtail soup loaded with root vegetables and corn, is a true standout.

Hialeah is certainly the place to find stellar Cuban food in Miami, but as many have realized over the years, La Ciudad que Progresa is a lot more diverse than that. Case in point: there are actually quite a few Nicaraguan restaurants in the area, including Las Piedrecitas, which we like for its dependably good food and casual vibe. On top of the typical fritanga steam counter, there is also a bakery case where you can pick up traditional cookies and pastries, like picos—triangular sweet breads stuffed with cheese and other fillings. There’s also a cold case featuring a variety of Nicaraguan cheeses and cultured dairy products. This makes Las Piedrecitas a one-stop destination for getting a pretty full taste of what Nicaragua has to offer.