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La Bella Managua

d
dory Feb 9, 2008 05:23 AM

Nicaraguan restaurant on north side of Bloor near Ossington. Not much from the outside but inside is cheerful and "homey", and the recorded Nicaraguan music and regional menu might help you forget about the slush and snow outside. I've only eaten here twice in the past 6 months but both times it was equally enjoyable (with a group of 4 and 7).

I have almost no prior experience with Nigaraguan food but we all enjoyed our meal including (adventuresome) children and teenagers. You can google their menu.
Vegetarian options included. Also pasta and a stir fry dish offered.

Make sure you order one of their juices. Tamarind, and orange-cantaloupe are very refreshing. Tea is regular or herbal. A simple but nice touch being able to select your tea.
The restaurant is licensed.

The entrees are large and filling, and the prices very reasonable. With shared appetizers (quesadilla, calamari) I was unable to finish my meal. And I would have loved to try dessert!

Carne Asada $10.95 proved to be a favourite choice for us. A large portion of boneless beef served with gallo pinto (beans with rice...I really enjoyed this), avocado, and plantain (the sweet yellow mashed or the green version sliced thin and deep fried). Spice it up with the homemade pico gallo sauce to taste.

There is a pollo option $11.95 (the most expensive choice on the menu) which was also enjoyed.

The deep fried pork with cabbage salad was good but I found the pork a bit drier than I would have liked (mind you it was 9 pm on a weeknight) but the cabbage salad (think coleslaw with tang) was a great accompaniment and the yucca was delicious! Not low calorie but hearty and satisfying.

The tamales were another delicous and inexpensive entree, which might make a nice shared appetizer.

There's no kid's menu but the waitress offered to bring my 10 yr old a smaller portion of the Carne Asada but as he is a Carne Vore he sticks to the regular portion and doggy bags the rest.

But here's the best part for me. Because of a life threatening allergy to tomatoes I approach most restaurants (well actually all) very carefully. The owner (I assume) came out from the back to answer my many questions and was extremely polite and helpful, as was the waitress. He suggested some delicious tomato free choices. The other thing I "suffer" from is being able to choose. Some of us couldn't decide between yellow or green plaintain -- he brought us both. Yucca -- No problem. He brought us both forms of yucca. Spanish Cheese (which tastes like feta) -- grated or fried? We get both. When you're eating out with kids, groups. and allergies this kind of friendly and helpful service keeps you coming back. I only wished we didn't live in York Region and we could go more often.

Our last visit was in December and he mentioned that he was hoping to enlarge the menu to include some fish/seafood choices. And apparently, although its not on the menu on weekends (open at 11 am or noon? but not before) the waitress told me if you ask they'll serve you up a Nicaraguan style breakfast. Not sure what it is but it might be a nice break from bacon and eggs. If you do try it please post about your experience. I may have to make a trip downtown soon for lunch.

  1. e
    EarlyDrive Feb 9, 2008 09:06 AM

    Thanks for the review, dory. We'll definitely give it a try!

    1. satoorisme Feb 17, 2009 04:24 PM

      I read from somewhere that this place closed down... is this true!?

      1. p
        piccola Feb 17, 2009 06:52 PM

        I've eaten there a few times, and exhausted the veg options fast (there are, literally, two choices). But I stop in for plantains once in a while - totally worth it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: piccola
          satoorisme Feb 17, 2009 07:29 PM

          Awesome! What are some of their other dishes would you recommend?

          1. re: satoorisme
            g
            ginger1969 Feb 18, 2009 11:45 AM

            OMG you can get a platter for $35.00 with pork beef chicken fried pork skin freshly done rice and beans plaintian coleslaw and bean dip. It is an awesome way to sample everything. good for 3 or 4 people. The beef Tacos are also really tasty and the home made hot sauce is so tasty. The food here is so good!!! SSSHHH!! I don't want this place to get too popular. ;-)

        2. m
          msprnt May 20, 2009 09:57 AM

          i haven't been able to find a website for this restaurant... does know about one?

          ... but a large (12) group of friends want to go there for a sunday lunch/brunch (esp. "nicaraguan style breakfast"!!!) ... we all went to nicaragua on a missions trip and want to re-unite over some nostalgic dishes ... would this place suit a large group? ... food sounds great too!!

          8 Replies
          1. re: msprnt
            p
            piccola May 20, 2009 01:07 PM

            It's pretty small, but I've never seen it packed, so I think you'll be fine. But call ahead first.

            1. re: msprnt
              chocabot May 20, 2009 01:16 PM

              I'd certainly call. There's space, but Jesus, the chef and owner, is the only one in the kitchen! For dinners he can do group platters with advance notice, so that might be something you could consider as well.

              1. re: chocabot
                p
                piccola May 20, 2009 08:31 PM

                That's good to know.
                Since you seem to have an in with the owner, maybe you can answer this: why the random stir-fry dish on the menu? I'd much rather have another Nicaraguan veggie dish to choose from...

                1. re: piccola
                  chocabot May 21, 2009 07:31 AM

                  i don't. I've been there twice but my friend is a regular (and he only ever gets the veggie plate). i agree the stirfry and pasta dish are odd additions tho i haven't tried them myself.
                  The owner is very accomodating. He will do 1/2 orders and grill the plantains if you request.

                  1. re: chocabot
                    m
                    msprnt May 21, 2009 10:02 AM

                    so i booked it for my group on sunday afternoon ... i asked about the nicaraguan style breakfast and he said that's possible too ... and added that he'd do pretty much anything we'd ask .....within reason ....i remember it always came with a random salty cheese and he mentioned that too....haha

                    anyhow, thanks for your input!... i'll report back next week!.. hopefully it doesn't take too long considering the chef/owner is the only one in the kitchen....

                    1. re: msprnt
                      chocabot May 21, 2009 10:46 AM

                      do report back. i've never had nicaraguan breakfast before!

                      1. re: chocabot
                        p
                        piccola May 22, 2009 10:24 PM

                        Me neither, and I'd love to try.
                        Good to know about the half orders and willingness to accommodate. I wouldn't ask anything complicated -- maybe just to leave the meat off some of the other combos.

                        1. re: piccola
                          1sweetpea May 23, 2009 04:37 PM

                          Does anyone know if they do papusas and if they are good? I travelled throughout Central America with my SO a year ago, but we ran short of time and wound up missing Nicaragua. I was eager to sample the papusas there. I've never actually had one, despite the fact that I know of at least two places that make them in T.O. I live well outside the city, though, so I like to pick my few Toronto meals a month carefully. Is this place worth a visit or should I set my sights on someplace else the next time I'm in the city?

            2. m
              msprnt May 26, 2009 09:53 AM

              so our group went on sunday and we ordered multiple dishes that consisted of a simple crispy coleslaw, plaintains (fried or roasted), rice (brown or white), and a meat (chicken, beef, pork) prepared in various ways ... i'm not sure how "authentic" the meets were prepared, but they were good ...the plaintains were sweeter than i remember ever having

              we also ordered casava (?), which resembles a cross between chinese "jung" and tamales, but much larger than both and made of mashed beans, chicken/pork, and vegetables... wrapped in a leaf (banana?) .. served with a tortilla... this was steamed i believe....

              the nicaraguan breakfast consisted of brown rice with beans, plaintains, scrambled eggs, and fried cheese!!!.... we gobbled that cheese up quick! .. other than the cheese and plaintains, nothing really unique about it...

              bill came to 135 + tip for 12 (with a few juices/pops)... and we were STUFFED.... lots of spanish speaking ppl there after 3pm .... when we left..... so it seems to be a local mainstain .... one in our group is fluent in spanish, so she ordered for us all ....

              the food came out much quicker than i'd expect for one person in the kitchen, so that was great! ... overall, i'd say it's decent ... but i'd only go back if i was in the area (although, there are so many more options in the area as well)

              1. t
                TeacherFoodie Aug 15, 2012 04:45 PM

                Didn't want to start a new thread - has anyone been here recently? Is it still good? What should one order here?

                1 Reply
                1. re: TeacherFoodie
                  p
                  panko Aug 18, 2012 01:17 PM

                  I have a Nicaraguan coworker and she said that the food here is fantastic and authentic. The ceviche is apparently very good and best on weekends.

                2. chocabot Aug 19, 2012 07:22 AM

                  Last night, the fried fish was as delicious as usual.
                  Steak in the Carne Asada was a bit more too well done, though I realize this is traditional.
                  Glad to see it was busy during the street festival.

                  1. y
                    ylsf Apr 18, 2013 07:04 PM

                    I know this thread is old but I never heard of this spot until today. Was looking through The Grid and they had a feature on fish dishes in the city and mentioned the red snapper at this place.

                    http://www.thegridto.com/life/food-dr...

                    Worthy of a visit?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ylsf
                      Googs Apr 19, 2013 09:18 AM

                      Chatto's opinion:
                      http://jameschatto.com/2013/03/la-bella-managua-ceviche/

                      Here are some recent threads. Sorry that's about all the help I can be at the moment.
                      http://www.chow.com/search?query=mana...

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