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Eating my way through Central America

In my last stab at freedom before I begin a real (post-graduate, long-term) job, I'll be spending about 6 weeks in Central America. I haven't figured out my precise route yet, however, because I want to make a foodie journey. Where - south of Guatemala but not going too far south of the Equator - should I go? I need towns, markets, farms, etc. - everything related to food. Thanks for your help!!

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  1. San Salvador has great food, the pupusas, antojitos, and traditional dishes.In Honduras, El Patio restaurant located in Teguc is a fantastic traditional Hondureno restaurant.Try sopa de caracol while in Honduras.The cuisine is different up north in La Ceiba with more African influences, and a seafood lean.Both cuisines are simple but delicious and a wonderful contrast to each other.

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    1. Anyone else know anything? I plan to pass through Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, maybe Colombia and Venezuela. Thanks!!

      1. I'm familiar with most of your target countries, which is a lot of ground to cover in 6 weeks. How are you traveling? Southern Panama into Colombia is a war zone, period. Venezuela is currently "iffy" for Americans. Nicaragua, especially around the lake, is absent of necessary services. I would suggest an eastern, carribean route through Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, with a destination of Costa Rica.

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        1. re: Veggo

          Indeed, fine dining in San Jose and elsewhere in Costa Rica is like trying to find genuine pre-Colombian antiquidades in that land. But there are a few top drawer cafes. One is part of an antiques shop in Saban Norte distrct of San Jose about 200 meters north of the Subway eatery. The chef is from Great Britain. It's in a class by itself. He closes up and returns to London for a few months in November.

          Cafe Torino in Escazu keeps getting more and more popular and justifiably so. It is consistently good, the setting pleasant, and staff muy friendly and efficient.

        2. i am a Canadian currently living in Costa Rica and i have been to most of the countries in the vicinity. unfortunetly Costa Rica is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to food. best country around in my opinion is Panama hands down. if you plan on making it there or to Costa Rica and want suggestions let me know. Also my wifes hometown of Medellin (Colombia) if you make it that far down has some places that were ok.......lechona (stuffed suckling pig) etc..

          1 Reply
          1. re: busterbrown

            Busterbrown, this is long-over due, but if you are still familiar with the food scene in Panama would love your take on the fine-dining scene.

            Thanks!

          2. I have to leave Colombia for Mexico and Guatemala to be able to eat well. Six weeks is just about right for Mexico and Guatemala.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Mexican food is spectacular, no doubt. But I would not entirely dismiss the food in Bogota. They've got some really good restaurants in Bogota at the moment, including Criterion, Andres Carne y Res, Donostia, and a few others. I was really surprised by the cosmopolitan nature and high quality of these restaurants when I visited in December.

              And in Cartagena, you can eat at La Vitrola and El Santisimo (?), both of which were outstanding.

              Medellin and Cali leave a lot to be desired, thought.

              Another option would be to visit the coffee farms in Colombia -- they are beautiful, cheap, and the coffee is (duh) great.

              One post described the war zone in Colombia. I think he was only talking about one specific part of Colombia because the major cities are certainly not war zones.

              1. re: glutton

                Actually, Cali has quite a number of international style restaurants that are as good as many in Bogota and Cartagena. The good restaurants don't really serve anything "Colombian", however. I'd take a visitor to a couple of restaurants in Palmira for beans and meat at one and smoked buffalo at another--or to the good high end places. But I think the OP is in search of good national food in the countries visited.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Just arrived in Cartagena and looking for recommendations. Especially anything that might be on the cutting edge side of things, or any cant miss street food, etc, etc.

                  1. re: gpatton619

                    I would go to three places. First, go to La Vitrola for a very nice meal. The ceviches and crudos (I cannot remember what they call them there) are outstanding. Truly one of the nicest meals in my life. Second, go to Club de Pesca and sit underneath the huge tree, enjoying the weather and the view. I had wonderful steamed fish in coconut milk there. Last, go to La Dulceria for lunch. This is a crowded, casual spot. The sandwiches are outstanding, the jugos are perfect, and the desserts are very good. It represents an intersection of Carribbean and lebanese culture in a small way, so things like the baklava are surprisingly good.

                    I will throw on a street food recommendation. By the gates to the old city, there is a grocery store called Viver (or something like that). Outside is a lady selling all sorts of coconut-based sweets. You cannot go wrong with any of them...