Mexican food has long enjoyed popularity in the States, with cuisine from Cuba, Peru, Venezuela, and Argentina not far behind. You can even find Salvadorean and Colombian dishes like pupusas and arepas in many cities across the country. But there’s another cuisine that’s lesser-known and just as deserving of your love and appetite: Nicaraguan fritanga. Fritanga is both the name of the places where you purchase homestyle Nicaraguan cuisine (typically casual establishments) as well as the name of the cuisine itself (gallo pinto, queso frito, carne asada, maduros, etc…many dishes of which are fried). Fortunately, there are some places across the U.S. where you can experience this culinary delight. Here are the top cities for it.
The 305 is hands down the mecca for fritanga lovers in the States. There are dozens of fritangas spread out across Miami-Dade county, each one more delicious than the next. The neighborhood of Sweetwater is home to the largest diaspora of Nicaraguans, and therefore the best place for it. Fritanga Monimbo (which is also the most popular fritanga chain in town), La Fritanga Nagarote, and Nicaraguitas Tortillas y Fritanga are some of the best ones found here. The area of Little Havana is also home to the only 24-hour fritangas in the city: Pinolandia and Yambo.
The Bay Area is home to a small number of well-revered fritangas. Oye Managua and Las Tinajas are both in the Mission district, and each offers solid Nica dishes like bistec encebollado, gallo pinto, cerdo frito, and more. Al Fin over in Daly City offers fritanga, with a few other non-Nicaraguan dishes like pupusas and their wonton estilo espanol (with chicken, cilantro, and cream cheese). There’s also La Fritanguera in Concord across the bay, good for cacao and salpicon. There’s pretty much everything you want at these spots. All you need to do is bring your appetite.
Los Angeles also offers a wide variety of fritangas across its great city. Sabor Nicaraguense is a newer fritanga that’s already receiving rave reviews for its carne asada (complete with chimichurri) and nacatamales. El Camacho and La 27 Restaurante Nicaraguense are older fritanga staples known for having great service and yummy queso frito, tajadas, bistec encebollado, and more. Folks come here when they want to enjoy some of the classic Nicaraguense staples that taste homemade. Bring a friend or someone you’d like to impress because you really can’t go wrong with any of these restaurants.
While Houston’s population of Latinxs is mainly composed of Mexicans, there is a growing population of folks from Central America, including Nicaragua. As such, it’s nice to see at least one fritanga here that’s doing very well: Taqueria La Carreta Y Fritanga Nicaraguense. Located in South Houston, this Nica hot spot features all the usuals like churrasco, ensalada, gallo pinto — you name it. Another thing to appreciate about this cute and cozy spot is its decor. Its walls are decorated with plenty of Nica art giving it a homey and authentic feel.
There is a small diaspora of Nicaraguans in the Louisiana area. And fortunately, they’ve opened their own fritanga: NOLANica. This hidden gem just outside of New Orleans, serves quality Nica food with excellent service to boot. They’ve got traditional items like tamarind juice and repocheta, as well as some fun fusions like their Mombacho Nachos (beef, chorizo, cheese, pico, and jalapenos over a bed of tajadas —named after Nicaragua’s Mombacho volcano). Our mouth is watering just thinking about it.
St. Louis, MO
The aptly-named Fritanga is the only Nicaraguan restaurant in St. Louis (and potentially, in the midwest). This charming little establishment is more sit-down restaurant than traditional fritanga (which usually features a hot buffet from which you ask las señoras to plate your meal), but still features all the usuals like gallo pinto, taquitos, and tostones. On the plus, they also feature Nicaraguan beer (Toña) and cocktails made with Flor de Caña, the national rum.
Rosita Bakery Nica is the place to go for fritanga while you’re in the D.C. area. While you might assume this is merely a place for baked goods, Rosita sells much more than cakes and pastries. In fact, it’s a complete restaurant that sells fritanga dishes like quesillo and vigoron, as well as a slew of “Miami Burgers” and other goodies. It’s a small spot with a whole lot of delicious dishes that will leave you overwhelmed with options. Folks on help rave over the roasted chicken, the rice with black beans, the friendly service, and the super affordable prices.