Eating out in Guatemala City
Guatemala City has a complex reputation. Sadly, it is often overlooked as a potential tourist destination due to a relatively high crime rate – but it is a city that has a huge amount to offer. So, rather than flying into Guatemala City and then heading straight back out again to one of the more popular tourist destination such as Antigua or Lake Atitlan, we recommend you stick around for a while in the capital. It is a vast, sprawling city of over 17.5 million people – and so there is more than enough to explore for a few days.
The term ‘melting pot’ is overused, but it really does apply to Guatemala City – it is somewhere where the indigenous populations of the area, as well as waves of immigrants from hundreds of different countries, have come to live. Together, they create something truly special – and that is no more evident than in the city’s many different restaurants, cafes and eating destinations.
So, here is our pick of just a few of the best places to eat out in the Guatemalan capital.
Traditional Guatemalan food, served simply and well. This is a friendly, vibrant restaurant in the popular Zone 10 that prides itself on the quality of its authentic Guatemala dishes. We tried the pepián stew – hearty, filling and simply delicious. Like the area of the city it is a part of, this is a restaurant that feels local and alive and spending time here is a great introduction to a side of Guatemala City that not everyone gets to see.
Staying in Zone 10 for a while, we also recommend that you check out a genuine Guatemala City institution, the Hacienda Real. It is a fantastic experience – from the minute you walk in you will find you self transported into a traditional colonial-style hacienda. The steaks are spectacular, and this is a place with a warm and friendly feel that we love.
Antigua might be on your travel itinerary already, but for an early taste of the old colonial capital you can’t do better than head to the beautiful Jean Francois restaurant. The food is the French chef’s gorgeous take on contemporary seafood, steak and poultry dishes – all served in a breathtakingly peaceful atmosphere. An elegant and refined dining experience.
Ah, Tamarindos. This is one to save for your last night in Guatemala City, as it is unlikely that you will find anywhere better to eat in town. It’s a ‘fusion’ restaurant, which can often mean a bit of a mess of influences, but not in this case. Here, you will find a fantastic mix of Asian and American cuisine (it works, trust us), and the restaurant itself is beautifully designed. A gorgeous environment, and a real culinary highlight that truly stands out from a crowded field.
Street food is having a moment – every town from Taunton to Tallahassee now has it’s own take on ‘authentic’ street food from around the world. But Guatemala City is the place to go for the real thing. Whether you fancy trying out a meat-stuffed pepper known as chiles rellenos. or another street food favourite like elotes locos (barbecued corn on the cob stacked with ketchup and cheese) there are countless stalls right across the city to try.
It is some of the best food you will taste during your stay in Guatemala City – our advice is to follow the locals and just go for the stalls with the longest queues!
Jürg Widmer Probst