The Traditional Foods of Antigua, Guatemala

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We are so spoiled in Antigua when it comes to food,” a local friend told me on my recent trip to Guatemala. “The restaurants here are so good because a Japanese couple owns the sushi restaurant, the Mexican restaurant has Mexican owners, the Italian restaurant is run by Italians…”

And the list goes on. But with such a variety of restaurants to choose from, where do you start?

Well, one of the most important parts of immersing yourself in a culture is eating the traditional food of the region (and it’s usually the most economical choice as well).  So while options are definitely nice, what can you expect when you order a traditional Guatemalan meal?

Here is a list of some foods you will come across and we encourage you to try them:

A plato tipico will include corn tortillas, black beans and rice, is are usually accompanied by chicken or beef at lunch and dinner, or eggs and fruit for breakfast.

Pepian is a popular chicken stew served in the highlands of Antigua. It has a distinct, smoky taste that I’ve never experienced before – it is made with a variety of spices and usually pumpkin seeds, and is typically served with rice.

Jocon: Chicken and tomatillo (smaller, green tomato) stew. This stew is also hearty, delicious and typically served with rice.

Tamales, tamales, tamales: Cornmeal dough stuffed with a variety of fillings (meat, vegetables, cheese), and steamed or baked in a corn husk.

Fried Plantains: Sweet, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Fried plantains make everything better.

Coffee: Considered some of the best in the world, coffee is one of Guatemala’s largest exports, and makes for a great gift!

Avocados are everywhere. The residents of Antigua actually earned the name panza verde (green stomach) because of how many avocados they consume.

I don’t always drink beer, but when I do (in Guatemala), I drink Gallo.

Pitaya

Additional restaurant and bar recommendations for your trip to Antigua:

Best Pizza: El Cazador Italiano. Cheap and easy.

Best Mexican: Frida’s, located under el arco.

Best Steak: Casa Escobar. Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meat. Portions are large.

Best Healthy Choice: Pitaya. Organic café that serves wraps, salads, snacks, coffee and a huge selection of juices and smoothies.

Best Mediterranean and Hookah Bar: Gaia. Belly dancers perform while you eat some delicious Mediterranean and smoke a little bit if you’re into that sort of thing. The food is great!

Best Tipico: La Fonda de la Calle Real. Order the Pepian.

Best Irish Pub: Reillys. Great place to mingle.

Best Dancing: La Sala. Small but fun!

Best Wine Bar: Tabacos Y Vinos. Huge selection of wine.

Best Speakeasy: Café No Se. “Because every dive needs a town.” They have mezcal, live music and good vibes.

Best Coffee Shop: El Portal Cafe, located right in central park.

Antigua is also a great place to wander and discover your own favorite places and spaces. Do you have anything to add to the list?

Provecho!

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About Author

Ellen wanders. She wandered her way through Europe in 2007 during a semester abroad in Madrid, then through parts of the South Pacific after college graduation, and spent a year in South and Central America during 2010. Most recently, she went on a solo adventure south of the border to research and write the travel guidebook Go Girl Guides: Mexico.

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