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14 Delicious Dishes You Can't Leave Guatemala Without Trying

14 Delicious Dishes You Can't Leave Guatemala Without Trying

Picture of Jack Guy
Updated: 3 January 2018

Guatemalan food mixes Mayan traditions with colonial influences, making for an interesting and varied cuisine. Here are 16 dishes you just have to try when you’re in the country.

Pepian

This thick stew is one of Guatemala’s national dishes, combining roasted spices, meat and rice in a tomato-based sauce. Don’t leave without trying it at least once.

Kak’ik

Another traditional stew, kak’ik is made using turkey meat alongside garlic, onions, meat and coriander. It’s usually accompanied with rice and tortillas.

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Chile relleno with rice, beans and salad © Joshua Heller / flickr

Chiles rellenos

Guatemalans also love chiles rellenos, peppers stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices. They are usually fried in egg batter before serving.

4067888440_75c52c3fa8_bThe famous Guatemalan fiambre, a salad eaten to celebrate Day of the Dead © ignacio sagone / flickr

Fiambre

This traditional salad is made to celebrate the Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day. It can contain as many as 50 ingredients, with cold cuts and beets chief among them.

Elote loco

“Crazy corn” might sound like an unlikely dish, but this street food favorite is a pleasant surprise. Grilled corn cobs are slathered in ketchup, mayonnaise and cheese before serving. It’s messy but delicious!

Hilachas

This traditional dish consists of shredded beef in a tomato sauce, and is usually served with rice and tortillas to fill you up.

Rellenitos

Rellenitos | © jgoge / Flickr

Rellenitos

A great choice for dessert, rellenitos are cooked plaintains with refried beans, sugar and cinnamon. Think of a Guatemalan doughnut and you won’t be far off.

Tostada (c) Selene Nelson

Tostadas

This street food favorite consists of a taco shell topped with a variety of ingredients. Most stalls will offer a selection of toppings such as chicken, beef, or salad.

Tamales

While many Latin American countries serve tamales, the Guatemalan version has a special touch. Fans of Mexican food might be used to corn tamales wrapped in corn husks, but in Guatemala they are bigger and come in banana leaves.

Jocón de Pollo

This traditional chicken stew is a hearty affair that goes down well in cold mountain areas. After a long day of hiking in the Cuchumatanes, it’s great for warming up in the evening.

Pupusas © Selene Nelson

Pupusas

They might have been invented in El Salvador, but Guatemalans love pupusas too. These small round disks of corn mixture can be filled with cheese, pork scratchings, or beans. They’re a great way of filling up on a budget, but they’re not too healthy so don’t eat them too often.

Tapado

Visitors to the town of Livingston on the Caribbean coast will soon become familiar with tapado. This seafood stew is made with coconut milk, and it’s delicious. Don’t be put off by the idea of stew on a hot day, it really is worth trying.

Caldo de pollo

Chicken soup is a favorite dish in many cuisines around the world, and Guatemala is no different. Here it is often served on Sundays when families meet up for lunch.

Atol

If you see people drinking steaming cups of a creamy liquid from street sellers, it may well be atol. There are many different recipes for this traditional meal-in-a-cup, but the most common is made with sweet corn. It’s popular with workers who need to grab a quick breakfast or snack on the move.