The food scene in Guatemala is among the best in Central America, and where better than its capital city to get started on a no-frills culinary tour of the country? From traditional fare to international cuisine, here are some of the best places to eat on a budget in Guatemala City, so you can sample this fascinating city’s food scene without breaking the bank.
Walking around the streets of Guatemala City, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many similarities with rural Greece. But this newcomer to Guatemala City’s food scene is proving slowly but surely that Central America can rival the Mediterranean for hummus, gyros and meze. Del Griego is a great place to eat if you want a meal out in upscale Zona 10 that won’t see you wipe out all your savings.
Guatemala City doesn’t want for Chinese restaurants, but this one is among the most popular with locals and tourists alike. It’s also another venerable establishment, having first opened all the way back in 1977. Whether you want traditional options such as chicken in oyster sauce or something more adventurous like golden dove or baked pigeon, Celeste Imperio has something for you. With bargain-price set menus available, you won’t pay over the odds for it, either.
Guatemalan food more than holds up against its more renowned neighbour, but if you’re craving a taste of Mexico during a stay in the capital, you could do far worse than Cielito Lingo. The menu covers everything you’d expect: nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas and more. For the best value, get 20 tacos with a filling of your choice for just GTQ179 (US$24). If you’re looking for a drink with your meal, make sure to turn up between 3pm and 6pm for happy hour.
Rey Sol is a great spot for vegetarians and vegans looking for delicious food in the heart of the city. As well as typical Guatemalan vegetarian fare such as frijoles y huevos, you’ll find a wider range of dishes including sandwiches, meat replacements and veggie lasagnes. The highlight of Rey Sol is the lunchtime buffet, featuring a huge range of vegetarian and vegan dishes from all around the world.
If you’re in the market for more meat than you can handle at a price that doesn’t hurt your wallet, Rincón del Steak is your best bet. The restaurant’s speciality is carne el trapo, a Colombian method of cooking steak that involves wrapping the meat in a towel and cooking it directly on a fire. As well as looking impressive, it tastes so good that you won’t want to stop eating. And with all-you-can-eat meat for just GTQ189 (US$25), you won’t have to.
A true Guatemala City staple — the first branch was opened over 30 years ago — Arrin Cuan serves traditional Guatemalan food at affordable prices. Newcomers to Guatemala should head straight there to try local classics like aq’ik and gallo en chicha in simple surroundings. Plus, turn up at lunchtime and you’ll be eating to the sounds of marimba music.
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