Up to Date Recs for Antigua
Would appreciate any restaurant recs for Antigua, Guatemala. Will be staying there for 6 weeks, over Semana Santa. Will be with my 14 year old son, but he is a very adventurous, and enthusiastic, eater.
I'm a bit of a "bargain bites" kinda guy, so no Shmantzy Hotel restaurants need apply. But, a place like Hectore's, for an occasional splurge sounds promising (at Trip Advisor). Markets, and all other food related spots are welcome too. I am very open minded about different cuisines, and like pretty much anything that is not a tourist trap, or that I could eat better at home. So I'm thinking Tibetan and Ethiopian are off the table. Thanks for any attention, and thanks to rworange (btw is that Rhymes With Orange?) Purple is no easy one either!
Yep, rhymes with orange ... few people guess that ... they think it is a take off on RW Appple (not).
You better like purple if you are going for Semana Santa
First here is the link to my Flickr sets. There are a few recent US sets in there, but most of it is Guatemala. i have about 30 restaurants that have photos but i never got around to descriptions. Getting re-established in the US was a bigger deal than i anticipated.
Invaluable ... invaluable ... is reading Antigua Daily Photo. My year in GT would have been so much poorer withouth the riches of info there that expands beyond food
Here's the food entries
Que Pasa is a local magazine and you can buy a Que Pasa card that will get you discounts locally.
I see Rudy has a recent post about Mojarras Fritas ... a simple but outstanding dish that you should order every chance you get.
A kind of weird site ... don't let your kid read it ... is Michael Shearers. As much as I hated the style, I got some good tips there and it is probably the most current coverage of the restaurant scene. He seems to catch every opening and closing and change. He is ... electic ... though
Degusta Antigua has many restaurant menus and they announce weekly and monthly specials
I'm going to break this up into smaller posts so it is more readable.
i hope you will report back. Let me know if any of my old favorites are gone (sob) or your finds
FYI, Michael Scherer has a new booklet out for which he's charging an exorbitant $12 for 48 pages. He says the five best restaurants in town are Ni Fu Ni Fa, Angies, La Pena de Sol Latino, Fusion, Sobre Mesa, Hector's, and Bistro Cinq. So much for Michael Sherer.
I've been in the capital for about a week and have only spent a couple of days in Antigua so far, but I've already seen a lot of changes since last year. Will be moving into my apartment there on Sunday and although I doubt I'll be able to post comprehensive updates, I'll at least do my best to to keep at least some of your threads up to date regarding what has closed (Deliciosa, much to my dismay) and what is new (a place above Ocelot that is supposed to have outstanding ceviche on the weekends).
As to cuisine, surprisingly (to me) German and Swiss are big. Germans established the coffee farms. Guatemalans love fondue ... without irony. Chinese is big as well and chow mein will show up on many menus. It is where American chinese was in the 1950's with a Guatemalan spin.
Guatemala is in a time warp. It is like stepping back into the 1970's. Oddly enough there's lots of good baked goods from that era such as carrot cake, brownies, chocolate chips cookies, etc. The best pumpkin pie I had in my life was in Antigua ... you won't be there for pumpkin season.
Now ... ta da ... my favorite restaurant ... this is all from memory as my GT notebook died and i need to find my flash drive that had the back up
My favorite restaurant was Toko Baru ... and i'm glad you like bargain bites ...this joint has three tables. It is THE hole in the wall. it is Dutch / Indonesian.
It is the first place I would return to if I ever go back.
The owner uses his mother's recipes with some influence from his world travels.
The sweet potato fries with peanut sauce to dip are fabulous. They have regular potatoes too,which are fine, but they don't match those sweet potato fries
He makes these three exquisite sauces to go with many of the dishes ... garlic, tomato curry and hot sauce made with dried shrimp.
The one thing I never got was the croquettes Holland-style. The lady who made this time-consuming dish couldn't do it anymore and he was looking for someone new
The falafal and koftu are the best I've ever had.
A lot of the other dishes are similar just with different meat. On Friday or Saturday he makes fried fish.
This is such a great place for atmosphere ... it attracts artists and peace corps workers (they get a discount), rich, poor, the mix is always fascinating and the owner is quite interesting as well.
I want to go there now
My totally unedited and uncommented photos
A heads up re Toko Baru. As of 3/20/12, Christophe moved down the street and is now at No. 8 6a Calle Poniente, not No. 21. It's now on the north side of the street and about a block further east. The restaurant is a little larger with four tables and the kitchen is quite a bit larger.
I'm not as over the moon about this place as rworange. I'd call the sauces good rather than exquisite. The falafal is pretty good, too, but a chicken kabab was dry and no better than what I can get at any street cart in NYC and the pitas can be a tad stale. The prices, however, can hardly be beat. You can stuff yourself silly for about $4.00.
Comedors are the diners of Gautemala. At lunch they offer platos tipicos ... a three course full meal that rarely exceeds five dollars ... and that is on the high side. it includes soup (usually forgettable), an entree like pepian, sometimes a dessert, tortillas and usually a weakish agua fresca type of drink. BTW, Guatemala makes the best tortillas in the world. i miss those.
The queen of comedors is La Tienda de La Canche located right across the street from La Merced. Do NOT miss this. A good friend in Guatemala clued me in on this and it is arguably the best pepian in Antigua. I tried to convince some locals that another place was better and was drowned out in protest with descriptions of the depth and nuance. It is not high quality food but it is the food of poverty elevated to the best it can be ... like wonderful soul food.
Here's my post about it
You can wander up and down the streets of Antigua, peeking into the many commedors. Here's a few i tried. Again, it is good, honest food at a great price and you will soak in a lot of the local culure
Restaurante Los Nazarenos
Haven't wrote this up either. This is near the market and was half a block from my little hotel. The owner was a wonderful woman who offered to run meals to the hotel if I didn't want to go out to eat. I loved the little touches here ... the pink roses on the menu ... there was a complementary ... amuse buche, so to speak ... of tortilla chips topped with salsa.
There is a place next to another commedor called Travel Menu that is infinately better. Even so, this gets more non Guatemalans. It is, in some ways a little better, but you get less and the prices are on the high side ... like five bucks
Travel Menu ... everybody loves it ... travelers, locals ... i hated it. Maybe it was my choice of the tofu plato tipico ... I have a tendency to order the weirdo thing at a restaurant ... skip the tofu ... but I vote to skip Travel Menu
Egg rolls are another popular thing in Antigua. Travel Menu added them just before I left, however, just down the street is El Cofre. This is a joint I'm not sure will still be there. In addition to sweet and savory egg rolls, the owners wife is Filipino and you could get filipino food there (haven't tried it). They also offered a Guatemalan Plato Tipico. I hope someone will let me know if it is still there. The mashed potato and cheese egg roll and the fruit egg rolls were good.
Lo Mix is know for its fiambre served on Dia de las Muertas in November. It is an elaborate chopped salad with over 50 ingredients. On a regular day ... .meh ... skip
La Casa de Las Mixtas has platos tipicos as noted by Rudy from Antigua Daily Photo
I first went for the Mixtas ... a Guatemalan hot dog with lots of stuff on it. Given that is part of their name, i expected greatness ... but I had better. I didn't hit the lucky lottery when I had the plato tipicos here. Lovely owners and interesting joint. There's an upstairs with more tables ... one thing to note about most Antigua restaurants ... there's usually an upstairs with a spiral stairecase ... if there's not an outdoor patio.
El Gringo Chapin is a place I'm sorry I waited so long to visit. The plato tipico comes with house baked tea bread like banana bread. The day i went it was chocolte tea bread. Though it is mainly Guatemalan food, it also has some gringo dishes. I went there just before coming home because at one time they had meatloaf ... no more. It is on the street in back of the cathedral near central park
My second favorite joint and the second place I would return ... Saberico.
There are three gardens in back. The restaurant grows all sort of herbs and exotic fruit in these gardens that the restaurant uses. They use local and organic food. I LOVE their pepian and the black tortillas. One garden has hammocks. Climb all the way to the tip garden with the lovely cabanas.