Surrounded by rolling highlands and full of elegant colonial architecture, Antigua is one of the most beautiful destinations in Guatemala. It is also an exceptional culinary hub, with some wonderful local restaurants to discover; we list 10 of the best.
A relative newcomer to Antigua’s cultural restaurant scene, Angie Angie is an Argentinian-style restaurant featuring a theater, live music and puppet shows on Friday nights. The international menu is visibly influenced by Italian and Argentinian cuisines, with dishes such as spinach ravioli with Gorgonzola and mushroom sauce. Nonetheless, the specialty of the house remain the tapas, cooked up in various combinations; picante meatballs, shrimp cooked in olive oil, garlic, white wine and salsa, or beef and chorizo, spiced up with the vibrant flavors of chili, tomato and orange.
The central theme of this lively venue is the life and work of the fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The restaurant’s owners (and great fans of Frida’s work) initially decorated the dining space with their own collection of posters and reproductions of the artist’s paintings. On the menu are Mexican specialties such as tacos, nachos or enchiladas, as well as delicious chicken and beef dishes. Though it serves solid, hearty fare, Frida’s is most famous for its exquisite margaritas and regular live music events, making it very popular among locals and tourists alike.
Restaurante Fridas, 5a Avenida Norte Calle del Arco 29 Antigua, Guatemala, +502 7832 1296
The elegant Messón Panza Verde is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Guatemala, having won the Tenedor de Oro, a prize awarded to the best dining venues in the country. With impressive vaulted ceilings, mahogany antiques and evocative paintings, the venue has a chic atmosphere which blends seamlessly with innovative ‘international cuisine with a twist’. Delicacies such as consommé with Mayan herbs or coq au vin crown the eclectic, carefully composed selection of dishes. Messón Panza Verde is also well known for its wine collection and live music nights animated by New Orleans blues, classic or Cuban jazz.
Located in the heart of the city, in a 16th century colonial house, the Palacio Doña Lenor is a natural extension of any outdoor sightseeing experience. A piece of living history, the venue tells the romantic story of Doña Leonor, a princess of Asturias, through its restored architecture and décor. The restaurant offers a selection of local and international dishes, with specialties such as jumbo shrimp tempura lightly fried with a Thai sauce taking center stage. Each meal is complimented by live music and an excellent choice of wines. Don’t skimp on desserts such as the moist coconut cake served with vanilla gelato.
Fusing great books with fresh food, excellent service and NGO lectures on the social problems faced by Central America, Rainbow Café is a Guatemalan establishment in the truest sense of the word. The intimate venue proves that enjoying a simple lunch can give its guests a deep understanding of the culture of Antigua and Guatemala. Rainbow Café specializes in sandwiches and soups made with fresh ingredients from the local markets, as well as instantly recognizable dishes such as melted mozzarella quesadillas, chicken fajitas or typical Antiguan breakfasts.
Las Palmas is a Cuban-themed venue decorated with hand-crafted artifacts, bright paintings, and colorful vintage furniture. The menu includes wonderful dishes such as the succulent rack of lamb with red wine sauce served, delicate fish fillet in lime and coriander and Cuban plantain with Guatemalan guacamole. A popular dine-and-dance spot in Antigua, Las Palmas attracts crowds of locals to its live bossa and Cuban music, buzzing salsa nights, and film screenings.