When it comes to food, Antigua is admittedly a bit of a head scratcher. One the one hand, restaurants here are plentiful, with the demand for selection and quality preparation driven up by the city’s constant supply of transient out-of-towners. On the other hand, this may very well be (oddly enough) the hardest place in the entire country to find local Guatemalan cooking. Never mind the fact that culinary traditions from this part of Central America tend to be a bit underwhelming to begin with (we still love you, rice and beans); sometimes a traveler just wants to eat like a native. That being said, why not take a few minutes to get acquainted with some of your best options for fueling up while in and around the city?
Like just about everything else in here, Antigua’s highest concentration of restaurants can be found within minutes of Central Park. Whether you’re in the mood for something French, Italian, Asian, Indian, vegetarian, upscale, inexpensive, trendy, laid-back, etc., you’ll find it here, and likely at higher quality levels than you’re expecting. Such variation might run contrary to your idea of a small Guatemalan mountain city, we know, but that’s life in the travel-friendly 21st century for you. Just by way of suggestion, neighboring Café Sky and Y Tu Pina Tambien (1a Avenida Sur) are great morning options, while the live music at Rainbow Café (7a Avenida Sur) and the intimate, Parisian atmosphere of Bistro Cinq (4a Calle Oriente) make for some prime afternoon/evening eating experiences. These, however, are just a drop in the proverbial bucket, so make your rounds and don’t be afraid to experiment.
When it comes to authentic local flavors in Antigua, things get a little trickier. There are restaurants serving Guatemalan meals (like the delicious Fogon de la Abuela on 7a Avenida Norte), however they’re usually set in the context of a menu focused on international fare. Then there’s the daily market, with its stalls of fresh meat, produce and tasty cooked morsels that are great for snacking but not necessarily ideal for, say, dinner (unless you’re shopping for a meal to make at home). You could always head out of the city towards the San Lucas Sacatepéquez Market, which offers dozens of authentic Guatemalan dining options under one roof (we’re talking stews, churrascos, tamales, the works); this, however, requires a 25 minute drive out of town. Whichever way you slice it, Antigua probably won’t wow you with any testaments to its national dishes. Nevertheless, we’re willing to be you’ll be eating surprisingly well.