La Casita, which is translated as “Little House”, is a peaceful outdoor garden cafe in Esteli, Nicaragua, serving fresh, simple meals. La Casita is located a 5 to 10 minute taxi ride ($C30/person) South from Parque Central.
The menu focuses on small, simple and natural dishes, like bread and spreads like marmalade, cacao, hummus, and honey. Drinks are typical of a cafe, with coffee, hot chocolate, and the usual assortment of fresh juices common in tropical countries.
The menu is at the front desk area of La Casita, you order by writing the items and your name on a piece of paper, pay at the front, then find a seat in the garden where they serve you your meal.
In the garden area, succulents, cactus and other small plants, some potted, are for sale. Walk a little further back, and there are fruit seedlings for sale including mandarin, guava, and marañón (cashew tree).
When we went for lunch on a Sunday afternoon, it was pretty much only locals. Looks like I’ve finally found a hidden gem in Nicaragua that hasn’t been overrun with tourists yet! The only foreigners, aside from us, seemed to be with someone who was local (perhaps they were students doing a homestay?). Clearly the locals also think La Casita is a photogenic little spot, because we saw several locals taking photos and/or selfies in the garden.
We ordered an espresso with milk (which turned out more like a latte), a fruit lassi, bread and hummus, bread with cheese and tomato, and a side of chocolate spread. Instead of being served as a sandwich, the bread is a personal-sized wholegrain loaf. Because you slice it yourself, the inside was still very fresh and moist. Our loaf was still a bit warm when it was served to us. Prices are extremely reasonable, for the two drinks, two bread dishes, and side of cacao spread, our bill came to a total of C$205 ($7USD).
Chocolate manufacturing is a big industry here in Nicaragua – I learned this from the ChocoMuseo chocolate making workshop I did in Granada. Be sure to try the dark chocolate spread, which has the spreadability of Nutella, but the raw, tangy and slightly bitter taste of natural cacao. Or if you want a cacao-based drink instead, try the hot chocolate.
After lunch, you can cross a small bridge and take a tranquil walk through the sizeable tropical garden and look at giant cactus, snakeplants, aloe vera, fruit trees, and other tropical plants. There’s a playground area for children too.
Highly recommend La Casita for lunch in Esteli, Nicaragua, before it gets discovered by more tourists or mentioned in a travel book!