3820 S. Gessner
This is the new name of the Nicaraguan restaurant at this location, replacing Nicaragua Restaurant and before that Managua. I never went to either of those here nor Managua at its original location but looking at the Press review from two and a half years ago, I remember that I intended to and just never got around to it.
I was introduced to Nicaraguan cuisine a few years ago at Fritanga Nica which was unfortunately lost to most Houstonians, so far out on Synott at Bissonnet. Nicaraguan cuisine has some differences with other Central American cuisines, among them that the Nica kitchen seems to rely more on steaming (in banana leaves, not always with masa) than other cuisines.
Selva Negra means black forest and it’s the name of a coffee estate, mountain resort and nature preserve near Matagalpa.
I got an order of Tajadas to accompany this (half gone by the time I remembered to take a picture) and though the tamale proved to be solid enough to be forkable all the way to the last bite, I used the chips as scoops, an excellent pairing.
I've also had the Chancho con Yuca,
another traditional dish consisting of well seasoned fried pork (rib meat I believe), steamed with yuca and
topped with the house ensalada. I’ve seen the salad referred to as
curtido and ensalada de repollo but here they just call it ensalada -
finely shredded cabbage with some tomato, always served here well
chilled, crisp and with a nice acidic bite. Compared to the vivid
flavors of the pork and cabbage, the yuca was very bland and
uninteresting. But as s I often do with dishes I’m not familiar with, I took
the leftovers home and found the yuca to be a delightful dish on it’s
own when it had more time to soak up the flavors from the pork and
With the Chancho I tried the Zannahoria con Naranja refresco
- carrot with orange. Although sugar had been added it wasn’t as sweet
as the Maracuya and it was delicious and this was the best of the refrescoes that I've tried.
Selva Negra bills itself as Central American cuisine instead of specifically Nicaraguan; there are a few Mexican dishes and some labeled CentroAmericano but for the most part I think the dishes are Nicaraguan. All of the dishes I’ve had were less than $10 but there are many that go for more than that. I have been most interested in exploring the ‘traditional plates.’
They’re open 7 days a week. At the present time, they’re only taking cash.