SO MANY OPTIONS
Restaurants, pubs, and so much more
Once you’ve walked around San Juan del Sur a few times, you’ll notice that the downtown core is a hungry man’s paradise. There are restaurants, pubs and bars littering the streets. You might not be able to find everything you’re looking for in this town, but you’ll certainly find a good meal. And then another. And then another.
Click each category below to read more
Grilled meats, vigoron, nacatamales, street-side finger foods, Sunday soups, and refreshments.
Local produce markets, San Juan’s seafood market, fresh meats and locally-run vendor markets.
Cooking + Meal Prep Services
Various options for fully cooked meals, meal prepping and party-sized feasts.
Dale Pues’ new space is lush, beautiful and comfortable.
The list of restaurants in San Juan del Sur is long. Here is a short list of the restaurants with the biggest audience, for good reason.
Restaurante Maggy – Tomahawk steaks that leave you swooning over them in selfies, and perfectly cooked New York Steaks and Fillet Mignons with jumbo shrimp. These are just some of the highlights. There are more options, and they are all scrumptious. Restaurant Maggy earns its reputation.
Sabores De Mi Patio – Great hidden spot just a few minutes’ walk away from the main church. Some of their best dishes include the Mixed Grilled Sausages, the Burger “Del Patio,” Pork Ribs, and Skirt Steak. I’ve never had a bad meal there.
Ding Repair Cafe – Technically a cafe, but with restaurant-sized food portions. This one is a real treat for those of us with food restrictions, sensitivities, or in the mood for healthy food that treats your body well. They serve a mean brunch, smoothie bowls and salad bowls that actually leave you satisfied.
Simon Says – Another healthy and delicious option in San Juan del Sur, Simon Says serves delicious salads, sandwiches, burritos and starters. Plus, the scenery is lovely, a lush and fresh garden tucked into the busy centre of town.
Dale Pues – Ranked as San Juan’s #1 restaurant on Trip Advisor, Dale Pues has a large , natural space where you can stretch out comfortably and enjoy one of the best burgers in town. They are consistent in great customer service. and good food.
Mercado Municipal – Finally, I have to mention the food in the main market, because it’s cheap and cheerful, as an old friend used to say. You can get a solid portion of chicken or beef soup for $3, as well as plates of beef, chicken or pork cooked with veggies for the same price. Breakfast food also available.
BARS + pubs
San Juan is not as busy now as it was some years ago, when every crevice on the sidewalk was bursting with people. Now, there is a more relaxed feel to this town, and the spark and buoyant feel of this city can often be seen in local pubs and bars, full of laughter, music, people loving and hugging and sharing their energy with others.
Cerveceria – The Cerveceria is a brewpub right in the centre of downtown San Juan, across from Juanita’s chicken and the Mercado Principal. They serve craft beer, fantastic burgers and a set of pulled pork sliders that go great with whatever you’re drinking.
They also have pool tables and great music, so on any given night, you will find people there to spend time with.
Henry’s Iguana – One of San Juan’s most popular bars, Iguana also doubles as a restaurant with great food. Their wings are always crispy and juicy on the inside and regular sized salads are generous compared to other places. They have a great variety of drinks, and the location doesn’t get much better. You can sit on the beach, or on one of the three levels overlooking the water.
You’re likely to run into friends at Iguana’s at any given time, as it’s always lively and bustling with both residents and tourists of San Juan.
The Hip – A small but quaint Canadian spot in downtown San Juan, with tasty pub-style food. Canadian memorabilia covers the walls, which gives it a nice feel for those of you missing home. Food favourites include the buffalo poutine, their ‘huge hip salads’ and sliders.
A daytime meal can easily turn into an evening out at Iguana’s. Once you take a seat on their patio overlooking San Juan’s Bay you won’ t want to leave.
Street food, although not as fancy (or comfortable) as a restaurant meal, is one of the best parts of San Juan del Sur. Of Nicaragua, really.
Grilled Chicken – Grilled chicken is a thing in Nicaragua. It’s a thing you find on the side of the road just about anywhere you drive. It’s quick, it’s fast, and it’s cheap. Better in some places than others, but always available.
Ceviche – San Juan’s fish market has fresh ceviche every day after about 10 in the morning, but you can also find it in other places, like Remanso beach, where a man sells it from his cart most days. It’s always fresh and always very zingy from the copious amounts of lime. Pairs well with Nicaragua’s many brands of plantain chips you can buy in any convenience-type store.
Juanita’s is a little restaurant right across from the Cerveceria. During the day, you would have no idea it’s even a restaurant. It has no sign, and certainly no signs of life. After 5 pm, the massive bbq gets rolled out and the scent of grilled meat travel gently down the road. After that, you better show up quickly, because there will be a line-up. Either Juanita or her daughter are always there to serve you a generous plate of juicy grilled chicken or pork, crispy tajadas or maduros and cabbage salad.
At dinner time, you can often spot other grills in town, offering similar fare – although Juanita’s is really the best I’ve found.
Sunday Soups – Sunday is soup day in San Juan del Sur. It just is, that’s the bottom line. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can figure out where the best soups are found.
First and foremost, the giant soup pot that is ready at 11:30 sharp at the central park, in front of the church. Come with a bucket (most people do), a pot, your mom’s Tupperware, whatever you can find. Usually it’s a hearty beef soup with big chunks of corn and other veggies. It runs out quickly, so be prompt.
Mondongo (beef tripe) soup is always a hit here – there is a great spot in Las Delicias, a few doors down from the tire shop as you come into Las Delicias.
Nacatamales – usually available on weekends, but can be ordered from a few different people during the week as well.
Vigoron – The “Vigoron lady” can be found every weekday at the corner of the main road (NIC-16) and NIC-72 – by the Alcaldia corner. She is there until just before lunch and then moves down to the centre of town, in front of Nica Naturals. her vigoron is made with either pork or pork skin, or a mix of both.
Refrescos – San Juan’s street food scene would not be complete without mentioning the refrescos, especially since they can be found everywhere. Literally, everywhere. Street carts, tricycle carts, people’s homes, restaurants, more street carts… Favourites include: Cacao, Jicaro seed, and Tamarind.
FRESH FOOD + markets
One of the principal reason I, and many others love living in this charismatic beach town is the perpetual availability of fresh produce and meats. In this respect, San Juan does not disappoint.
Mercadito – The best local fresh produce market in town, run by Christina and her husband Rommel, a friendly and helpful duo that everyone in town seems to both know and love. Here, you can find the most variety of fruits and vegetables, including salad greens, which are not as easy to score in this climate as the hardier root vegetables. They also sell things like tea, coffee, cinnamon and a few other odd treats.
Mercado Municipal – This is the central market in the heart of San Juan’s downtown. Any day of the week, there are an assortment of produce vendors to choose from, as well as the two meat shops that are open on weekends, one that sells mainly beef and one that sells chicken.
Seafood Market – You can’t live (or even travel) in a small fishing town without visiting the local Fish Market. San Juan’s is packed with fresh (and affordable!) varieties of seafood like tuna, octopus, lobster, shrimp, skate, and other locally-found varieties like vela and dorado.
Saturday Farmer’s market – The Saturday market is now hosted by Big Wave Dave’s, and is truly a jambalaya of what the town’s creative spirit has to offer. Food, jewellery, freshly harvested organic greens, home-made drinks like kombucha and other refreshments, oils, condiments and jams, and more. Probably one of the highlights is that you can pick up a variety of baked goods like cakes, cupcakes, freshly baked breads, and meat pies.
Thursday’s Night Market at El Garaje – Similar to Saturday’s Farmer market, you can enjoy a variety of foods from different vendors in town.
Mali’s Thai Food
Cooking and meal prep services
Ahh, the pleasure of enjoying an entire home-cooked meal you didn’t have to cook yourself!
San Juan happens to be abounding with ready-to-hire home chefs who are willing to save you hours lost in the kitchen, trying not to burn that new lasagna recipe you found on Instagram.
On my short list of favourites, not in any particular order:
Melissa’s Kitchen – Melissa has a solid list of home cooked meal options available every week, both for order and for sale at Saturday’s local food market. Some of my favourites are home cooked soups, pulled pork + coleslaw and her home made boursin cheese.
Bagels and Bakes – Bagels and Bakes originally offered desserts, but now has ready-to-enjoy meals and a small shop in town where you can purchase a variety of fresh and frozen foods and treats. Their birthday cakes also get rave reveiws.
Mali’s Thai Food – I was lucky enough to spend a few months living next door to Mali while she perfected her Thai cuisine offerings. They were some of the best culinary months of my life. She now cooks in various restaurants throughout San Juan del Sur, and can be hired to come to your place and prepare a full Thai-themed feast.
Down Under Pies – Aussie meat pies, lovingly made by Quentin Craddock, right here in San Juan del Sur. His Australian accent tells you everything you need to know about his pies – they are the real deal. Available for order or to purchase at our local Mercadito, across from the church in town.
Grocery delivery options are abundant in San Juan del Sur; from companies and individuals who will do your shopping for you (hating your bi-weekly PriceSmart run?), to online grocery shopping options – just about every type of delivery service is available.
There are several grocery delivery options in the San Juan area, starting with our local Mercadito, which you can easily contact by Whatsapp to arrange delivery.
For a complete online grocery shopping option that most closely resembles a North American or European experience, head to PrimaEvo’s website. There, you can order produce, grains, locally sourced meats, condiments, health products and treats.
Delivery Mobile is a local service that will deliver almost anything – out of toiler paper, or trying to get the last drop of toothpaste out of the tube? They’ll stop by a grocery store or convenience store and get it for you. They deliver full meals, groceries, whatever you’re lacking. They are very responsive on WhatsApp and always fast and friendly.
BE SAFE WHILE TRAVELING
Read our article on what you need to think about when travelling to San Juan solo, what the town is like at night and our top 5 tips for staying safe.