If you’re in Hojancha and find yourself craving traditional food, stop by Rancho Doña Elena, located 300 meters south of the post office. At this family restaurant, you will find the original recipes of grandma Elena Aleman, who was famous for reaching almost 100 years of age.
In the morning, you can find traditional breakfasts with gallo pinto (rice and beans), eggs, tortillas made by hand and homemade cheese produced in the Aleman family’s dairy farm, priced at ¢2,500 (about $4.70) with coffee or juice.
If you want lunch, the traditional “casado” is plentiful and includes the meat of your choice served with plantains, beans, tortillas, potato hash with meat, a green salad and pickled vegetables. For ¢3,000 (about $5.60), options include fried or stewed chicken, beef in sauce or fried fish with potatoes and for ¢3,300 (about $6.25), tenderloin steak marinated in oregano fresh from the garden accompanied by vegetables, or beef al vaho, which is steamed wrapped in banana leaves and seasoned the day before.
They also offer soups ranging in price from ¢800 to ¢3,300 ($1.50 to $6.25), such as seafood, black bean soup or the traditional olla de carne (pot of meat) with all kinds of vegetables, chayote, sweet potatoes, corn, cilantro and tortillas.
Although it’s not on the menu, ask for a bag of fresh bread or a tamal asado, which costs ¢1,500 (about $2.80), or during rainy season when corn is being harvested from the field, order traditional corn tortillas called chorreadas with coffee for ¢1,000 (about $1.90).
The good: The oregano, corn, milk and cheese are produced on the property of Leopoldina Aleman.
The bad: Almost everything has meat, even the beans, which are cooked in lard. There are no vegetarian options on the menu.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.