¡Ask a Comida Critic!: Any Nicaraguan Food in OC?

Continuing our Hispanic Heritage Month series of queries, this one came out of nowhere:

Love your work, but have never seen you talk about Nicaraguan food. Are there any restaurantes nicoyas here?

Sadly, no.


I do know some Nicaraguans who live here, but there has never been a large-enough community of them to support a restaurant–at least in my years of covering food. The closest Nicaraguan restaurant I remember was in Downey, off Imperial Highway, but I visited years ago and it might very well be closed.

It's a damn shame we don't have Nicaraguan restaurants, because this Central American country makes the undisputed king of the tamale world: the nacatamal, a monstrous masa meal usually containing different veggies, pork, and even rice–it's big enough to support a virtual dinner. But you can get something approximating the nacatamal at La Casa de Fernando, the sole Costa Rican restaurant in Southern California and one of the few in the United States. It's not as big as the nacatamal, but the idea of its northern neighbor is there: big, wrapped in a plantain leaf, filled with veggies and meat (usually chicken). I prefer the casado plate (the dish of black beans, white rice and other morsels that's standard in most Central American countries), and this is hardly the most thrilling of finds, but it does the job–the place has been around for more than a decade, and night time brings ticos from across the Southland–and more than a few nicaragüenses.

La Casa de Fernando, 2500 W. Lincoln Ave., Ste 5, Anaheim, (714) 527-2010.

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