The sunwashed buildings of Granada and its warm colours give this city a vibe that reminded me a lot of Cuba. Underdeveloped in much the same way, Granada is the lesser known but equally charming version of Havana and packed full of gems. If I had to describe this city in one word it would be stylish, like unnattainable, born-with-it, Jane Birkin kind of style - where you question how the heck they did it and it makes you a little bit frustrated. As the style-icon of Central America, Granada's charisma has attracted many expats and their ventures (particularly from Europe) dotted all over a city that - on face value - appears to be mostly local town relatively untouched by the deluge of tourism. Here is a guide of some of the best spots Granada has to offer;
Finding a place like Espressonista in Nicaragua was a surprise, because it looks like its been plucked out of the first-world. Receiving a coffee with latte art, after drinking nothing but filter coffee for three months was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise. It's the kind of place you just want to sit in for hours and gawk at how beautifully detailed their venue is, and that's exactly what we did. What began as a short visit for coffee, very quickly progressed to a boozy lunch. Not unlike the owners original plans to open a speciality coffee shop very quickly developed into a restaurant because of all the local beans, artisan cheesemakers, ham smokers, organic farmers and craft brewers they met in Nicaragua — a must visit.
Hands down the best Lebanese food I have ever eaten. We shared a platter with feta, dolmades, hummus, pita, tabouleh, eggplant and tzadziki between two people and were (sadly) so full that our plans to continue gorging on the rest of their menu were foiled. Pita Pita earns bonus points for having a lovely owner with good banter and cocktails that are bigger than my head, and cheaper than a cup of coffee.
The Garden Cafe
Set in a beautiful period building with high ceilings, ornamental arches and lots of natural light pouring in, The Garden Cafe is (as the name suggests) home to a beautiful indoor garden in the centre of the restaurant surrounded by hammocks - a beautiful characteristic of many of the older buildings in Granada. Surrounding the garden is a cafe with a very large book exchange and a shop selling a huge range locally made wares.
Mansion De Chocolate
If there's one thing Granada isn't short of, it's beautiful hotels. The city is full of grand old hotels just like the Mansion De Chocolate, but the thing that sets this one apart is its incredible art that I realised is quite typical to Nicaragua. Tropical, tasteful and a little abstract, the building is filled top to toe with beautiful things to look at. Complete with a chocolate museum that runs chocolate-making workshops, a chocolate spa (chocolate everything) and a free pool to go and hang out at - you could waste away a whole day drinking cocktails by the pool.