We all travel for different reasons, but if I'm being completely honest food is easily one of my top priorities whenever I'm somewhere new. Food is representative of a country's history and culture as well as their agricultural economy and we can learn a lot from what and how people dine in different countries.
One of my all time favorite cities to nosh my way through is the charming colonial town of La Antigua Guatemala. Nestled in a valley surrounded by coffee farms and volcanoes, Antigua is nothing short of idyllic. This little city packs a big punch for its size with a diverse population made up of true antigüeños, transplants from Guatemala City, fanny pack donning tourists passing through, and the travelers who came for a week and never left. Naturally this cultural melting pot has resulted in a pretty unique food scene that can keep you busy for weeks, if not months. Check out a few of my favorites listed below, in no particular order. - Chelsea 💕
If you're in the mood to eat like a local look no further than Rincón Típico. The value can't be beat and I always pop in here for lunch at least a couple times when I'm in town, leaving full and utterly satisfied every time. Most days they have a variety of options such as roasted chicken (amazing),pork adobada and longaniza, to name a few, all of which come with delicious sides and your choice of beverage. They often also have some speciality dishes like pepián or kak'ik on the menu which I'd highly recommend. If you go in the morning you can snag a pan con chile sandwich a for a few quetzales, I can't think of a better way to start the day in Antigua. Service can sometimes be slow but it's worth it for the meal and to people watch at this little locals haunt.
Y Tu Piña También
Brought to you by the same creative genius behind Café No Sé and Ilegal Mezcal, if you're in town for a couple hours chances are you'll hear all about the happening down on Primera Avenida. Pop in Y Tu Piña También for great food that won't break the bank in a comfortable setting. Bonus, the wifi is great, however, chances are something even more interesting will be happening in real life on the block so be prepared to get sucked into that. Be sure to check out their brunch and cocktail menu for a little hair of the dog after a long night at Café No Sé.
Pitaya Juice Bar
If you've taken my previous recommendations to heart then you're likely due for a detox day after all the heavy eating and drinking. Head to Pitaya Juice Bar for the best smoothie of your life or opt for a nutritious salad or wrap. The owners are adorable and have brought something truly fresh and fun to the town with their bright brick and mortar shop. I recommend adding moringa or bee pollen to your smoothie to add a little pep to your step and if you're in town long enough to do a juice cleanse they've got tons of options!
I consider myself lucky to have known one of the owners of Chermol for quite a few years, so when he told me that he was opening up a restaurant with some friends I knew it wasn't going to disappoint. Chermol is all about the artisan process, be it in the form of craft beers, the handmade and painted furniture, or the exceptional men. The places oozes with heart, talent and authenticity. Try the empanadas de pulpo, you will never ever regret it. Chermol can be tricky to find but don't give up,look for the a-frame on the sidewalk that will point you in the right direction to this hidden oasis.
You might not think to go out of your way looking for Middle Eastern food in Guatemala but after a couple weeks of corn, beans and squash it's nice to mix things up a bit. Head to Toko Baru for a hearty meal on a budget. Grab some falafel or a delicious beef shawarma at this cozy little spot on Primera Avenida.
There are so many reasons to love Sabe Rico that it's almost easier to just go and see for yourself. As you step into the main entrance your eyes will immediately fixate on the chocolate and pastry cases before
being distracted by the small deli and extensive wine collection nearby. Soon enough a friendly face will greet you and lead you to a table and just when you think you've seen it all you end up in an expansive and enchanting garden complete with the charming chirp of finches. At this point the ambiance has probably already won your heart but the best is yet to come, the meal. Also, they have frozen teas infused with wine - try the fresa with red wine, it won't disappoint.
Metiz Delicatessen y Bistro
Looking for something refined but still affordable? Head to Metiz for high quality meats, cheeses, macaroons and more at their deli or opt to sit down and dine in house at the bistro for the full experience. My personal favorite - their carpaccio which I often get to go and walk the half block to Parque Central to eat while I people watch around the fountain.
Also a literal stone's throw from Parque Central, Sobremesa is more than just a culinary experience. The owner is cheerful, bold and quirky and he infuses his energy into all that he does, be it preparing amazing meals, writing compelling novels or painting the gorgeous and eclectics pieces that adorn the walls of his restaurant. The dude is seriously creative and he and his lovely wife have carved out a space worthy of a visit during your time in Antigua. Bonus, they have an adorable little ice cream shop around the corner that sells unique flavors like pistachio cardamom. Just go.