Best Nicaraguan Restaurant (2006)

El Masayita

Like many of their countrymen, Carlos and Rosalina Martinez fled their native Nicaragua in the summer of 1979, within days of the Sandinistas' taking control of the civil-war-ravaged nation. There was no way the couple would have remained in their homeland, considering Carlos was one of a handful of West Point-educated captains enlisted in Anastasio Somoza Debayle's reviled national guard. "I didn't even know how to fry an egg before coming to Miami," Rosalina reveals. "But we had to find a way to earn a living." In 1981 husband and wife opened El Masayita, named after their Nicaraguan hometown. The only local Nica restaurant with more longevity than El Masayita is venerable steak house Los Ranchos. Located in Little Havana, El Masayita is also more moderately priced than its high-end counterpart. A churrasco dinner costs only $10, while a seafood platter of pescado a la tipi tapa is a reasonable $14. On the weekends, El Masayita makes other popular Nicaraguan dishes such as bajo (shredded pork meat with yuca and salad) for $7, vigoron (salad and yuca) for $3, and small and large cups of sopa de mondongo (a creamy broth made with tripe) for $3.50 and $6, respectively.


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