I'm looking for food/restaurant recs for Guatemala, esp near Tikal (El Remate, Flores), Rio Dulce / Lago de Izabal, and Puerto Barrios. This'll be my first time in the country, and I want to know what kind of food they grow/produce there and unique preparation methods, etc. Oh, and I'm on a budget. :) I've found that wild turkey, armadillo, and coffee are big there... what else? And where, specifically, should I shop and eat? Thanks for all advice!
I may have come too late to this thread, but in case not . . . .
If you’re looking for unusual food experiences, you can sometimes find tepesquintle on the menu at restaurants in Flores or other towns around Lake Peten Itza, even though it is endangered and many find it unfortunate that it’s still available. It’s a large rodent that’s stewed and usually served with sauce and can be quite tasty depending on the preparation. I used to be able to find it on the menus of places that tourists tended not to frequent, but these days restaurants that do have it on the menu do so mainly for the curiosity factor.
I haven’t spent a whole lot of time there, but I think the food in Livingston is more interesting than in Puerto Barrios because of the Garifuna influence. As you would expect, there’s lots of fresh fish and shellfish available in both towns, but the preparations in Livingston tend to be spicier.
I’ve had some really good meals on Lake Izabal, but they’ve been at rather upscale resorts and were not inexpensive for the area. If you’re on a budget, where you decide to eat will depend entirely on where you decide to stay. The geography isn’t conducive to getting from town to town unless you have access to a car or a boat.
And as Sam has said, outside of the main cities you're always better off at the markets, comedores, and street-side food stands for tasty, inexpenisve meals.
I haven't found much to rave about in terms of restaurants all over Guatemala, and much prefer the markets--for great morning tamales and atole and for mid-day meals of stews or mondongo--and the food stands or tacquerias in the plazas. Best of all are the small unnamed comedores in rural areas--great food and well within any budget. The turkeys are not wild and are served around Coban. Very skinny but tasty. I've not encountered armadillo. There is some good coffee served in Guatemala City, not so much elsewhere, including in the coffee growing areas such as around Coban and Huehuetenango. Shopping: the area around the market in Antigua--located at the other end of town from where you enter.
That is a tough question as food is rather unremarkable in Guatemala. In Antigua I remember the Panza Verde Hotel as having great food as the chef is from Switzerland. We stayed at a remote hotel on Lake Atitlan which had very good food as they made their bread and everything. They give you tons of vegetables, especially cauliflower.