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Insider's Guide to Managua, Nicaragua

From a café/bookstore to a colourful market, Canadian resort owner Matt Dickinson takes us to his favourite spots in town.

Matt Dickinson

Photo: Chad Davis

Almost eight years ago, Matt Dickinson ditched his real estate gig in Toronto in pursuit of paradise in Nicaragua. He opened Maderas Village, a laid-back 20-room resort near surf town San Juan del Sur, and, later, a custom furniture company in Managua. “The city is chaotic, with colourful buses that whiz past little markets,” he says. “But there are great hidden spots to discover if you know where to look.”

El Molino

Photo: Wilberto López Ulmos

1. El Molino

This café-bookstore is full of Nicaraguan literature and beautiful art books – it’s a good place to get a sense of the local culture. There isn’t much division between the indoor and outdoor space, and the patio is full of green plants. I like to get a drip-style black coffee before browsing the selection of English books.

Km 7.5 Carretera Sur, Plaza La Fe, 505-2278-1210 ext. 1040

Gastronomía El Buzo

Photo: courtesy of Gastronomía El Buzo

2. Gastronomía El Buzo

An Italian guy who moved to Managua in the 1970s owns this restaurant, which isn’t in any of the guidebooks. It has a nostalgic elegance to it: You can go in a sports jacket or shorts, but the waiters all wear bow ties. I always order the carpaccio made from the catch of the day.

Km 13 Carretera Sur Vía Panamericana, 505-2265-8336

Roberto Huembes Market

Photo: Fabiana Aguilar

3. Roberto Huembes Market

This market is always crowded, with vendors selling raw materials like carpentry supplies, buttons and every type of zipper. I’ll go to buy fabrics to make pillows for Maderas Village. There are also food stalls with barbecued chicken and fried plantain chips. The colours are amazing, particularly the leather goods and the textiles.

Pista de la Solidaridad

4. Time Travellers Cafe-Bar

Unlike most of the city’s LED-lit nightclubs, this bar is reminiscent of your grandmother’s living room, with mismatched furniture and antique knick-knacks. Classic movies projected onto the wall keep things very chill. It’s the perfect place to sip on 7- or 12-year Flor de Caña rum.

De la Casa de los Noguera 100 Mts. S., next to Tecnolite Casa R-14, 505-2223-1802



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