Three Places for Gringo Food in Leon, Nicaragua

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I truly believe that understanding a culture means eating its food but having been on the road nearly 3 months I’ve noticed certain cravings for vegetables and other roughage.

So while I eat dinner with my family, my lunch habits have varied as I feel the need for more greens in my diet.

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But there’s nothing worse that breaking down to eat food from home only to find that it tastes nothing like what you are craving.

Unlike other cities, Leon is a bit more difficult to find food from home, there are no American fast food chains for the desperate, but somehow I’ve unearthed three great finds.

Cafe La Rosita

One of the school organizers introduced the Cafe as a place for great paninis. While the restaurant is foreign-owned, its staff are a group of young Nicaraguans who are really nice.

They were patient with my Spanish and got to know me by name.

Two weeks ago I had no desire to eat paninis but one item did tickle my fancy and that was salad.

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It had been so long since I had a really good salad, in fact I had a really pathetic one in Managua – not surprisingly.

I had been in a bit of a slump and I was starting to think that my multivitamin wasn’t compensating for the 5-10 vegetables I was supposed to be eating each day.

So I started eating La Rosita Ensalada for lunch and noticed a quick turnaround in my energy.

La Terraza Mediterraneo

This bakery/restaurant is next to my school and I stumbled upon it when I arrived early and decided to wander the neighborhood.

While most baked goods in Central America are painfully sweet, this is a European-style bakery and I can vouch for the savoury ham and cheese pastries (see above).

The woman who works for the bakery is really nice, one day she didn’t have change for my 200 cordoba bill so she just told me to take the pastry and I paid her for it the next day.

I did not eat in the attached courtyard restaurant but I heard good things, which isn’t surprising considering the bakery was the best I had seen throughout my trip.

La Union Supermarket

I was craving granny smith apples for breakfast but they’re not local so you won’t find them at the market.

This supermarket brand looked familiar at first but I couldn’t place it until I was told that it was owned by Wal-Mart. I was surprised as Leon is protective of its national brands and is careful which companies operate in the city.

Unlike Managua, you cannot find McDonalds because it would put the local hamburger vendors out of business. But Wal-Mart is smart and sold the supermarket based on its ability to provide products local supermarkets would not have access to, including its Great Value brand.

As painful as it is to support this giant, it’s conveniently located around the corner from Via Via and Big Foot Hostel so it receives a lot of foreigners.

You’ll pay for the convenience but if you’re craving international groceries you can find them here.

Join the Conversation

  1. You forgot about the Bigfoot cafe! Best Central American pizza ever, and it comes with two mojitos. Right now, I really crave Mexi food. I wonder how hard it would be to find ingredients for enchiladas down here?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Cannot vouch for Bigfoot, I was disappointed with breakfast I had there. Although I did hear pizza was good.

  2. Sounds like some good places! Will have to keep these in mind when we go there! Thanks for posting

  3. Coolcaroline says:

    I am so happy to have found your blog! It’s nice to know that there are others eager to promote the wonderful and inviting city of Leon.We will be opening the Leon Travel Bureau very soon in the hopes of promoting the city and bringing fresh new perspectives (and tourists) to visit.I look forward to reading more of your life and adventures!

  4. Try Pa n Y Paz
    , a French bakery also just around the corner from Big Foot and Via Via. The breads and croissants and quiches are wonderful and they have a bright courtyard for a relaxed repast.

  5. Besides La Union, you also have La Colonia Supermarket, on the back side of La Salle High School downtown Leon. La Colonia sells a bigger variety of foreign items and products. When I dont find something at La Union, I go to La Colonia Supermarket.

    This year 2016 McDonald`s finally opened in Leon, as well as Pizza Hut. I saw a sign that showed Pops Ice Cream Shop is about to open soon too. And also there is a Subway restaurant. There are several bakery stores, so you can enjoy even a good cup of coffee.

    But I also believe you have to give it a try to local food. There are several places where you can get inexpensive lunch such as what we call “comedor”. It is a place that sells local food at inespensive prices. Here you can get a meal at a third part price of one in McDOnald`s or Pizza Hut. DOnt worry. Just learn to identify what we really like.

  6. Rachael W says:

    We went to León in November 2016 and I am afraid McDonalds has made it there at last…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s so sad to hear.

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