Authentic Guatemalan Food

The thing about Antigua is, it’s pretty easy to forget you’re in a foreign country when it comes to food.

There are all the usual North American eateries: Pizza Hut, Burger King, and the like. Then there are plenty of locally-owned restaurants that serve up nothing but tourist-type fare; if you are craving pasta, crepes, and even Thai food, it’s all there.

As much as you want to convince yourself that you are eating an authentic Guatemalan bagel or special fusion falafel, well, you aren’t, and you are sadly missing out. While Guatemala may not especially be known for it’s cuisine, two local restaurants should definitely not be missed to taste the local flavour.

 

LA CANCHE

La Canche - Antigua, GuatemalaWe never, ever, would have known about this place if another traveler hadn’t taken us to it, near the Nuestra SeΓ±ora de la Merced. Any casual passer-by would absolutely miss it, as it is impossible to know that it is even a restaurant.

At the front, an unremarkable tienda: shelves stocked with countless goodies in a crammed and dimly lit room. The restaurant is accessed by going around the counter to the back, and turning sideways such that you can fit through the small entry-way. Several tables are stuffed in the dark room which is over-decorated with plants, and yes, even Christmas decorations.

It is the literal definition of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. And, as these stories normally go, the food was quite good and cheap at 25 Quetzales, or just over $3.

This is pepian, a savoury chicken dish in a rich sauce of various roasted ingredients (a good recipe for it can be found here).

Beef Dish from La Canche - Antigua, Guatemala

 

RINCON TIPICO

Another traveler helped us find this one, and we returned again and again.

Rincon Tipico - Antigua, Guatemala

 

The aroma from this restaurant spread for blocks thanks to fans constantly pushing smoke from the grill and out the door. Once we even saw them using a hair blow-dryer for a little extra push. (That is some expert marketing!)

The Kitchen at Rincon Tipico - Antigua, Guatemala

 

The Grill at Rincon Tipico -

 

The pork…Ohhh the pork! Seasoned to perfection and grilled until the ends are just a bit crispy.

Pork Dish Rincon Tipico - Antigua, Guatemala

 

This is the best deal in town. Sides change daily, but the choice of meat comes with some sort of salad, rice or potatoes, juice and tortillas for only 20 Quetzales, or just under $3. (This place, we especially miss.)

 

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  • Yum! And during the four months we spent in Guatemala during our Trans-Americas Journey we also found that Guatemala has the best fried chicken in all of Central America for some reason. And cheap! Puts the Colonel to shame.
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..One Lucky Wolf – Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    • March 9 2013

      We’re not big fried chicken eaters so never even tried it! That was probably bad of us. πŸ™‚

  • March 4 2013

    I haven’t been to Guatamala or Central America as a whole for that matter. I’d love to go and eat my way through the place. πŸ™‚

    • March 9 2013

      Most of the food in Guatemala was sneh – nothing to get too excited about…except these too places!

  • Sam
    March 4 2013

    These places are definitely going on my (ever expanding) list for Central America! I love the idea that Rincon Tipico advertises themselves by fanning out the smell of their food on to the street.

    • March 9 2013

      I know, right? That place is always packed, so it must be working. πŸ™‚

  • Now you’ve made me hungry! You can’t beat a bit of barbecued meat, perfectly seasoned. If only we had better weather here i’d barbecue everyday!

    • March 9 2013

      I make myself hungry with every thought of it!

  • March 6 2013

    It all looks delicious!! I’m going to Guatemala (and all of Central America too!) this summer and can’t wait to try some for myself.
    Sarah recently posted..I Don’t Belong in Miami Beach

    • March 9 2013

      These are the best eats (and prices) in Guatemala! Make sure to partake! πŸ™‚

  • Jarmo
    March 6 2013

    I remember liking the Guatemalan food when I was there, although I do also remember that it was sometimes tricky to find something properly local and good. Ended up eating stuff like pizza or tacos way too many times!

    • March 9 2013

      Yeah, those places are so common, and it’s hard not to be wooed to what is comfortable sometimes.

  • Alouise
    March 7 2013

    I’ll be honest – I don’t really know anything about Guatemalan food, but these dishes look delicious.

  • March 8 2013

    Mmmm – my mouth is watering…that pork looks ace!
    Andrea recently posted..Dog Sledding In Northern Norway

    • March 9 2013

      The pork was…AH! I want some now.

  • Franca
    March 9 2013

    I have to admit, even if I’m not a big meat eater, those dishes look so yummy and I love the fact that you get some rice and veggie sides too.
    I’ve never been to Guatemala but I’m sure the food might be one of the many good reasons to go πŸ™‚

    • March 9 2013

      There are many reasons to get there! That pork dish is one of them. πŸ™‚

  • Emily in Chile
    March 10 2013

    I loved the black beans with cheese for breakfast in Guatemala. The things you remember from trips you take as a teenager, right? I couldn’t tell you anything else I ate on that trip beyond fruit and black beans, probably because beans for breakfast seemed so crazy to me. Now half my pictures from any given trip are of food!

  • I love how they use the word “tipico” so frequently to describe the style of food.

    • March 15 2013

      That’s smart, really! Helps us figure out what is “tipico” and what is NOT an authentic Guatemalan bagel. πŸ™‚

  • I’ve been pretty fortunate to stumble upon a couple of places like that too. I’ve actually found myself “smelling” for new places to eat, stumbling upon some pretty cool little whole in the wall places. Great article and it looks delicious! πŸ™‚
    Ron | Active Planet Travels recently posted..Inspirational Photo of the Week | Embracing the Detours

    • March 15 2013

      Yup, we’ve been led by our sniffers as well, and if the place is full of locals, we dive on in! Great way to find local grub, and it helps if they have fans pushing the smell onto the streets. πŸ™‚

  • We’ve been wanting to visit Guatemala together for a while. Now I’m not only excited to visit the country, but hungry!

  • September 15 2013

    We ate at El Rincon several times on our trip last month, all ways super good and cheap. We also liked the quirky, hole in the wall place: Porque no?
    Adam @ GettingStamped recently posted..Guatemala Breakdown – What it really costs

  • December 10 2013

    That’s a nice looking pepian! Another good choice for authentic cuisine is Comedor Mama Lita in San Bartolo close to Antigua. It only open weekends but is packed with locals looking for authentic food chow like jocon, adobo, chile rellenos etc. s

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