“So, let me tell you what we’re not serving tonight,” our server said with a grin as she approached our table for the first time of the evening. While it was a strange start to our meal, hopefully, she was just making sure we didn’t get too attached to the three items eighty-sixed from the menu of polished Nicaraguan fare.
Deep into industrial Bushwick and marked by a lonely red neon sign that reads RUM, Chicha’s the only building on the block that’s not plastered in graffiti. But inside, you’ll find an Instagrammable paradise, with light pouring through towering windows onto millennial-pink tables, all watched over by a set of eyes painted into the tropical mural above the kitchen.
The food and cocktails hitting your table are just as vibrant as the space itself. Quesillos, a traditional Nicaraguan street food of masa tortillas topped with hand-pulled cheese, are adorned with fluorescent pickled onions and microgreens with the option to add on chicken or pork (you can also get them with pitch-black squid-ink tortillas). A bowl of popcorn studded with grilled baby corn offers a visual stunner that will quickly get on your nerves as you struggle to fork at each kernel.
After some of the on-tap cocktails, our stomachs were begging for something greasy. Luckily, the restaurant gets into its stride with all that is fried. Cured-egg–and-pistachio guacamole served with a mountain of crispy root-vegetable chips, yuca fritters showered with grated cheese, and umami-heavy arroz con pollo arancini left our fingers slick and our souls content.
While we were hoping to keep the oil-dunked party going with churros—the single dessert option on the menu—we were informed the only choice that night was a passion-fruit tres leches mounted over a Jackson Pollock of baby-food–thick banana sauce. While pleasantly sweet, with a welcome burst of tropical flavors, the layering of a soaked cake over a splatter of mush left us craving anything with more texture.
The intoxicating evening ended with the glow of our phones as we posted Boomerangs of both balls of arancini and our cocktail glasses clinking to immortalize the experience. The only thing you’ll want to forget is your hangover the next day.