The Art Warehouse – San Juan Del Sur
A few years ago, I wrote a piece here called, “San Juan Del Sur Sober”,where I outlined all the good stuff to do in this boozy tourist town in South Nicaragua that didn’t include booze. A lot has changed in a few years.
First off, El Gato Negro, a pilar of the SJDS day community and hands down the best book store and cafe vibes in all of Central America (yes, I am going THAT far) has sadly closed, leaving a huge hole in the alterna market. Buddha’s Garden, which was a bitchin’ vegan restaurant attached to Zen Yoga, has new owners and is basically just a smoothie bar now, and even Zen Yoga has changed into less of a vagabond yoga centre and more of a grown and sexy legit studio and services (massage etc) space. Kudos to Vanessa for all that growth, but where does a girl go who is looking for smoothie bowls, quinoa salads and an all day chill vibe?
The answer is: Art Warehouse.
Owner, Manu, who I originally met years ago, working at Auric (the deluxe teeshirt and now bathing suit stop in town) opened this up in the past two years as a cafe and restaurant, gallery and arts & crafts space.
The staff are really open and friendly, and generally seem to love their jobs. You can do a “Finca Salad” which is a vegetarian wet dream of quinoa, goat cheese, beets, eggplant and everything in between, or one of many smoothie bowls they are known for. A lot of people use the cafe as a work space, especially since it’s 2018 and everyone seems to work online now.
But, unlike ALL the other restaurants in SJDS, the back opens onto an art space and gallery where kids and adults alike can craft anytime they want. They have an art menu where you choose what you want to do: paint, colour, draw etc. and you pay a la carte (starts at $2). They also host pillow cover making classes, tie dye workshops, and kids art classes weekly.
Art Warehouse hasn’t quite filled Gate Negro’s shoes, but I’m not sure any place ever really will – instead they have provided their own spin on a community and family space for those looking to get away from bars and cramped taco stands and while an afternoon away creating memories and maybe something to hang on their walls at home.
Now that I’m traveling with a kid, I found myself there almost every day of our visit for lunch, coffee and to work when Luna was napping. It was an oasis for us – the staff, the vibes, and even the space itself. Just really grateful this little gem exits.
For more info, follow them on Facebook here.