Best Nicaraguan restaurant - 2013
When it comes to duplicating the fine dining that visitors experience in the Nicaraguan tourist resort town of Montilmar, El Madroño has a giant leg up on the competition. For 15 years, this Nica restaurant has been serving a delicious menu of traditional dishes that makes a trip into Sweetwater, AKA Little Nicaragua, well worth the drive. El Madroño holds its own against other established Nica brands, such as Los Ranchos and El Novillo, with no-frills service and great prices. And it doesn't overwhelm your senses with the vibrant, colorful Nicaraguan tchotchkes that have made places like Yambo in Little Havana stand out in travel guides. El Madroño keeps it simple with stark white walls, modern dining tables and chairs, and a diner-style counter with sleek wooden stools. The only decoration is a lone painting of La Purisima — the Virgin Mary — near the back of the restaurant. If you're stopping in for lunch, try the salpicón, a cold, tangy chopped beef dish, with a side of rice and fried plantains for $7.50. Or maybe the family wants a nice grilled steak dinner. Order a mouthwatering baby churrasco ($12.99) for the missus. For yourself, go full size for only four dollars more. Junior can have the baby carne asada for $6.95. If you're in the mood for more adventurous cuisine, try the nacatamal, the tortilla con cuajada, the enchiladas Matagalpa, or the vigorón, all for less than five bucks each. Wash your meal down with cacao, a tasty cold Nica beverage, for $2.75. El Madroño is located in a shopping center on the corner of SW 107th Avenue and Flagler Street. There's ample parking and a walk-up window for take-out. It's open seven days a week, except major holidays, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.