It is Christmas season again, and we have cake on the brain! In Nicaragua, Christmas means Pio Quinto cake (which may or may not be named after Pope Pius the 5th). It is similar to tres leches cake, but instead of being soaked in milk, it is soaked in rum! Pio Quinto is topped with a vanilla and cinnamon custard – called atolillo (which can also be served alone) and sprinkled with raisins and other dried fruits. You can find recipes for Pio Quinto from Serious Eats (seen below) and Leaders from the Kitchen.
6153 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33144
A new country! Miami finally provided us an opportunity to sample Nicaraguan cuisine. We’re sad it took us so long to get here: though there are no Nica places in Chicago, there are a TON in Miami. So, where to eat? The simplest answer is that you can eat at one of the many “fritangas,” a type of Nicaraguan restaurant where home-style food is served, often in a cafeteria setting and under heat lamps. But Cesar Perez and his sister Martha, the owners and operators of Chayito’s Fritanga, offer one better by offering una nueva experiencia en fritanga (“a new experience in fritangas”). The difference? Cesar and Martha make their food to order, as opposed to serving it on a steam table. That means everything is fresh!
The menu is small, but hits all of the classics. Sample the nacatamales, Nicaraguan tamales filled with meat ($3.50), vigoron, a salad if grated yuca, chicharrones, and cabbage ($4); and indio viejo, a stew made from corn and meat ($6.50). On Cesar’s recommendation, we ordered the Carne Asada ($7) and queso frito ($3.75) The steak was extremely tender, perfectly seasoned, and well-cooked; as was the fried cheese, and the portions were huge! Both dishes were served with gallo pinto (a classic side of rice and black beans common throughout Central America) and tajadas (fried plantains). We left completely full, and the prices were extremely reasonable for the portions.
The food tasted like it was right out of Mom’s kitchen. Well in this case, mom, Maria Rosario, nicknamed “Chayito,” was the one doing the cooking. We absolutely loved the fresh spin on the fritanga concept. Who doesn’t love food to order? And, what’s more, the people are awesome. Cesar and Martha are jovial and welcoming, making us feel right at home by helping us order and explaining the history of the restaurant. Next time you are in Miami, definitely go to Chayito’s for a real taste of (Nicaraguan) home.