Let me start off by saying that while I have what I consider a broad palette, I am at times ridiculously picky when it comes to what I eat. Safe to say that my first trip outside of the United States had me a bit nervous when it came to what I was ingesting, especially since my stomach tends to disagree with me more than it agrees. Though that’s never stopped me from ingesting mile high nachos followed by a three cheese quesadilla.
On our first morning we stopped for a breakfast at Cafe y Charla, which was actually located in Granda and not Leon. I had always heard that until you’ve tasted fruit in Latin America, you haven’t tasted fruit and that assertion couldn’t have been more true. All it took was an Oreo mocha iced coffee and a fruit plate of freshly cut watermelon, banana and pineapple; and from that point on I virtually didn’t stop eating for the remainder of our trip.
The Parque Central of León, or the town square as we called it during out stay, was commonly used as our meet-up spot during early mornings, or if we had separated to take on different activities throughout the day. One of the main attractions of the Parque Central is The Cathedral of León. The other, in my opinion is El Sesteo.
I am probably completely accountable for reducing the stock of mangoes at Sesteo by half. Though sometimes I would add other fruit into the mix, I estimate that I ordered about 13 jugos de mango during my eight-day stay. We never got around to trying dinner at El Sesteo, but we did stop in for breakfast about twice during out stay and the French Toast and Nacatamal are highly recommended.
- Hostal del Ray
The duration of my stay in Leon was spent at Hostal del Ray, with a nightly price that included all three daily meals. I’m not exaggerating when I say that right after one meal, we were already mouth-watering for the next. Luckily, for travelers not spending a night here, they operate as an open-to-the-public restaurant during lunch hours. I could go into a food-induced coma describing the breakfasts of frittatas, fresh squeezed tamarind juice and cheese filled tortillas or the lunches and dinners of moro rice, sweet chicken, plantains and corn tortillas but I think pictures will do more (and yet still not enough) justice. The savory meals only added on to our impressive stay at Hostal del Ray, which is run by the most accommodating and friendly group of people.
To some, the idea of a French bakery in the middle of Nicaragua might seem more out of place then a polar bear in the Sahara, but this spot provided not only a handful of lunches and late night snacks but also nice food diversity. The sandwiches on freshly baked croissants or baguettes, goat cheese, and iced coffee (served in a plastic bag if you were taking it to go) were always the perfect mid-day break of exploring. And if you’re still not full after your main course, their chocolate mango cake is something I still dream about. One of my favorite things about Pan & Paz is the quote written on the wall to the left of the register, both in English and Spanish:
“El mundo seria más bonita si todos tuvieran pan y paz cada día.”
“The world would be a much better place if everyone had bread and peace everyday.”
This restaurant had everything you would want from a beachside restaurant; a quiet deck built literally onto the waterside with an ocean view and the Cerro Negro volcano, and large plates full of freshly caught seafood. I couldn’t imagine a more satisfying way to end a day of
being beaten by waves relaxing in the ocean after the heat we’d experienced all week. There are a couple of meat based options, as well as a fried chicken option, but for me it was all about the shrimp dish which was some of the most fresh shrimp I have ever had. Being our last night, this meal was the quintessential ending to a great day and the perfect sendoff.
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