Despite being located so close to one another, no two towns or villages surrounding Lake Atitlan feel too similar. That’s also true of the restaurants you’ll find in San Pedro, San Marcos, Panajachel and more — which makes hopping from town to town, and meal to meal, a real treat. Here are seven restaurants and cafes that you should head to, from cheap eats to gourmet experiences.
Circles Cafe and Hostel
A vegetarian cafe that’s located right on San Marcos’s main strip, Circles has become something of a lake institution. A visit for breakfast or lunch soon reveals why: the food is all absolutely top notch, with a laid back atmosphere that’s completely befitting of San Marcos and its hippy vibe. A great place to eat a solid meal, then sit back and relax for a few hours while you digest.
Restaurant, Food Stand, Israeli, $$$
San Pedro doesn’t want for middle eastern restaurants, but these are by far the best falafel available on the lake. It isn’t pretentious, and it certainly isn’t somewhere you’d head to for a romantic meal. But it is delicious, cheap, filling and conveniently located a couple of minutes walk from the dock. If you’ve had a hard morning hiking up the Indian Nose or San Pedro volcano, this is the best place to refuel.
Restaurant, South American, Steakhouse, $$$
If you’re after a big portion of meat while you’re staying on the lake, then pay a visit to Guajimbo’s and you won’t be disappointed. This Uruguayan restaurant
has become a firm favourite among travellers in Panajachel, with heaps of beef tenderloin, churtos
, chicken and more – accompanied by live acoustic music on many nights. If you’re in town with a vegetarian, this place has you covered: there are plenty of meat-free options on the menu too.
Cafe el Escondido
Cafe, Restaurant, Central American, $$$
Jaibalito is one of the smallest villages on the lake, and is only accessible by foot (a hilly two-hour walk from San Marcos) or by boat. It’s also home to some of the most authentic Guatemalan cooking in the area in the form of Cafe el Escondido, located on the north side of the village. The cafe is owned and run by locals, and serves up a variety of Guatemalan dishes. Just make sure you’re done before the last boat leaves, otherwise you could end up stuck.
Cafe Sabor Cruceno
Restaurant, Central American, $$$
Next door to Jaibalito, in Santa Cruz, is another great option for traditional cooking. Cafe Sabor is run by students studying fine Mayan cuisine, which means you can get absolutely top quality local cooking for a fraction of the prices that you’ll pay in Guatemala City
. All the food is locally sourced, and thanks to a new third-floor dining room you can gaze out at beautiful lake views while you eat.
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Over in Panajachel — which is home to most of Atitlan’s real high-end dining — Hana is the perfect place to go if you’re in need of a change from all the rice and frijoles
. The menu consists of authentic Japanese cuisine, including sushi, tempura and urumaki. Plus it’s all served to you in a beautiful garden setting
that feels miles away from the busy town outside.
Hotel Restaurant, Central American, European, $$$
Chez Alex is the restaurant attached to the highly rated Hotel Primavera, and luckily the food doesn’t disappoint. You’ll find excellent takes on Guatemalan dishes here, as well as plenty of modern European cuisine. The restaurant certainly feels European when you head inside, with immaculately presented tables and quality service that wouldn’t feel out of place in Paris