Monthly Archives: November 2012

Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Grocery shopping in San Juan del Sur takes a bit of effort. One stop shopping is unheard of. In this article we’ll attempt to make your San Juan del Sur shopping experience better by telling you where to buy what and how much you can expect to to pay for things.

Although Pali (owned by Walmart) is the largest grocery store in San Juan del Sur it’s my least favorite place to shop. The aisles are narrow and the selection is limited.  Pali stocks the basics and essentials, but not a whole lot more.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Produce section at Pali

Items like sesame seeds, peanut oil, rice wine vinegar, wasabi paste and extra virgin olive oil can be purchased at Miscelania Sanchez. Nutella, Kraft salad dressing and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce are part of the regular inventory. They also carry instant cake mixes, confectioners sugar, baking soda and brown sugar.   If you want cheese this is the place to go.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Guide to Grocery Shopping:  San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– A sampling of some specialty items found at Miscelania Sanchez

I’ve been told by other expats if you don’t see a particular item you’re looking for at Sanchez just speak to the owner Gloria. She’ll do her best to find the item(s) you’re looking for and and bring them in for you.

Feta Cheese (171 g) – $4.65
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (680 ml) – $5.27
Nutella (350 g) – $7.59
Peter Pan Peanut Butter (426 g) – $5.99
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese $1.35

On a side note many spices have been difficult to find here in San Juan del Sur (or any other place in Nicaragua – including Managua – for that matter). If you have favorites that you absolutely cannot live without you should bring them with you.

For your shopping convenience there are two Sanchez locations in town – one next to the market (shown above) and the other kitty corner to Barrio Cafe (shown below).

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Aside from fruit and vegetable trucks that drive through our neighborhood, the market is the best place to stock up on produce.  

1 Pitaya (Dragon-fruit) – $1.06
1 Watermelon – $1.27
1/2 dozen bananas – $0.21
1 Large avocado – $1.27
1 Pineapple – $0.85
30 eggs – $3.38

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

The market has the best selection, but if you can find what you need on the truck there are deals to be had. 

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Fruit & vegetable trucks drive through our neighborhood daily

Being so close to the ocean has it’s advantages.  We know of four fish markets in town, but our favorite (shown in the photo below) is located just beyond the marina.  To ensure you get what you want plan to make this your first stop, early in the day. 

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Here you can get mahi-mahi, mackerel, tuna, lobster, shrimp and more!

Lobster – $6.34 per lb
Shrimp – $4.65 per lb
Mahi-mahi – $2.96 per lb

For the best deal on beverages we go directly to the distributor in town.  It is located on the main road as you’re coming into San Juan del Sur.  It’s on the right hand side, just down past Pan de Vida Bakery, about two blocks from the beach.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

24 – 350 ml bottles of Tona – $13.87
12 cans of Coca-Cola -$5.07
5 gallons of water – $1.78

Even though we have to drive thirty minutes to Rivas to get to the nearest Maxi Pali it’s my favorite place to shop. Maxi Pali is as close as you’ll get to a North American supermarket. The store is bright and clean and the air conditioning is chilly. 

Rivas, Nicaragua

– Maxi Pali accepts payment by credit card

Maxi Pali offers a bit more variety when it comes to certain items.  Here we can get green, red and yellow peppers. They also carry grapes, kiwi and strawberries. We prefer to buy our meat at Maxi Pali.

Filet Mignon – $3.38/lb
Ground Beef – $2.05/lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – $2.55/lb

Like other Maxi Pali stores in Nicaragua the one in Rivas has a pharmacy and  a small clothing section.  They also carry housewares and a few electronics. They even have a “dollar” section.

And last, but certainly not least is on my list of places to shop in San Juan del Sur  is Pan de Vida.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– This is a place to get excited about!

Pan de Vida is located 100 meters West of the Uno.  It is here is where you’ll find tasty bread and other delicious baked goods you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Nicaragua.  Everything is baked in the brick oven.

To date I’ve only tried the foccacia bread, the cinnamon buns and the banana bread, but I can’t wait to sample more of their daily offerings.

Banana Bread $4.64
Foccacia Bread $1.48
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread $5.70
Round Multigrain Loaf $5.06

Items at Pan de Vida are a bit on the pricey side for an expat on a budget in Nicaragua, but if having good bread means giving up a few Tonas per month – I’m in.  These delicious baked goods are worth every penny! 

When we add everything up we usually spend between $250 and $300 on groceries each month. We don’t eat filet mignon and lobster every night, but we aren’t eating gallo pinto every night either. We also eat our fair share of meals out.

Hands down we eat more healthy then we did in Canada. We are eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.  And it’s rare for a week to go by that hasn’t included a nice thick tenderloin steak grilled on hard wood coals. Now that we have more time meal planning and prep is something we both really enjoy.

Life and food in Nica is A-OK!

Photo Journalism Friday: Tick tock…this guy can fix your watch!

Photo Journalism Friday

Nacho Libre: A Gourmet Burger Joint

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better burger in San Juan del Sur than what you’ll get at Nacho Libre.  These guys are doing it up right!

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

With nine different burgers on the menu to choose from there is something for everyone.

Priced at $9 Smelly, But Nice comes with blue cheese, caramelized onions, spicy mustard greens, balsamic reduction and grey poupon and is the most expensive burger on the menu.

If you’re prefer something more simple you might want to try the Missionary burger. It’s topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Kosher dill pickles and rings in at just $5. 

For the non-meat eaters Nacho Libre serves a $6 burger they call Yoga Ass. This gourmet vegetarian burger comes with a cous cous veggie patty, mozzarella, caramelized onions, avocado and salsa verde. 

I chose #4 – In n’ Out Animal. American cheese, caramelized onions, Kosher dill pickles and Thousand Island remoulade. Need I say more?

Gord’s pick? #5 – The Big Wang. Charred jalapeños, bacon, extra sharp cheddar cheese, avocado and salsa verde make up this burger.  

Nacho Libre:  San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The Big Wang

All burgers are served on Corn Island Coconut bread that is made fresh daily. If you’re concerned about carbs you can have your burger served on a bed of locally sourced organic greens. All burgers come with your choice of hand-cut, house seasoned fries or organic mixed greens.  

As we devoured our tasty burgers, delicious crispy seasoned fries and Frosty Tonas we felt like we were in a trendy burger joint in a large city somewhere.

Nacho Libre reminded me of the type of place that is featured on the show Diners, Drive-In and Dives.

From the mouthwatering juicy burger, to the presentation, to the frosty Tona, to the friendly service with a smile I loved everything about this place. 

If you’re in San Juan del Sur (and love burgers) lunch at Nacho Libre is a must!  

Already a regular at Nacho Libre? We’d love to hear what burger is your favorite. Leave a reply in the comment section below.

Photo Journalism Friday: A Political Parade

Photo Journalism Friday

It’s 4 pm on October 31st in San Juan del Sur. Yes, that’s right – it’s Halloween.

Local and expat children walk door-to-door to designated businesses collecting candy. Meanwhile truckloads, busloads and carloads of Sandinistas proudly wave their red and black flags in support of Daniel Ortega.

The music is loud.  The energy is high.

FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) theme songs, that oddly enough, have been remade to the rhythm of popular American classics blast from huge speakers. It’s an all out party for these members of the FSLN as they prepare for the upcoming municipal election.

Along the malecon tents and stacks of Tona (local beer) are setup around a giant stage. All of this in support of (and paid for) by the FSLN.

I kind of feel like I’m at an NFL Tailgate Party, except for one glaring difference.  At this event there is only one team. 

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