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La Peña de Sol Latina: Live music
Although I’d read pretty good reviews of this restaurant, we hadn’t originally planned to visit it as there were several equally appealing nearer to our hotel. But when we walked past earlier in the day we paused and got talking to the owner, Bill Harriss, a friendly ex-pat American. He was very helpful in recommending some good places to see in the city, and also invited us inside to see the attractive courtyard and explained the ethos behind his restaurant. It was opened with the specific aim of showcasing local music, and a band performs live every evening – although as he was at pains to point out, not so loudly as to make dinner conversation impossible. We liked what we saw and heard, and as our first choice of Frida’s (see next tip) was closed for a private function, we decided to return.
It proved to be a good decision, as we had a tasty meal and enjoyed the atmosphere a lot. The music was provided by the house group, Sol Latino – Andean Folkloric style with Pan Pipes, and with the American owner on drums (which he played with infectious enthusiasm).
Favorite Dish: Chris chose a plate of nachos with chicken, which he enjoyed, while I loved my grouper with macadamia nuts, rosemary potatoes and ratatouille (the house signature dish), although the ratatouille could have been served a little hotter for my taste – we were to find however that lukewarm food is apparently the norm in Guatemala! I had an excellent margarita and Chris the inevitable Gallo. We both had room for dessert, and both chose the delicious pineapple flambéed with rum.
The bill came to 280 Q with service – not the cheapest meal in Antigua but by no means the dearest either, and good value for the quality of the food, friendly service and entertainment.
Café Bourbon: Good breakfast spot
This little café/bar on 5a Avenida Norte became our favourite breakfast spot. A table by the window meant a great view of the street for people-watching; the coffee was strong and very good; the staff were friendly; and there was plenty of choice whether you wanted a small pastry or a large cooked breakfast.
Favorite Dish: On the first morning here we paid 58 Q for two cappuccinos and two pastries. On the second we were a little hungrier, so I had the excellent yoghurt / fresh fruit / granola combination while Chris went for the French toast. With two coffees (a cappuccino and a double espresso) the bill came to 110 Q.
The bar is open all day and on weekend evenings sometimes has live jazz. The lunch and dinner menus sounded good but we never got around to sampling these, although I’m sure with a longer stay in the city we would have done – also the tempting selection of cocktails!
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Café Condessa: Popular for lunch
This is a busy café on the west side of the Parque Central, opposite the cathedral. To get to it you must walk through the great little bookshop of the same name, and past a tour agency desk and a small courtyard. There are a few tables along the far side of that courtyard, which is where we sat, and a large room beyond with many more. It seemed popular with locals out shopping for the day as well as with tourists – usually a good sign.
Next door there is a small counter service coffee bar but we never visited here, preferring the more relaxed atmosphere of the nearby El Portal (see next tip).
Favorite Dish: I ordered a fresh orange juice, which when it came tasted suspiciously like squash. The waitress insisted it was fresh, but willingly changed it for a Gallo. I had a spinach salad to eat – the leaves were young and tender, and the dressing and lardons very good, although the croutons were a little too crunchy for my taste. Incidentally all salad vegetables here come from their own farm and are guaranteed washed in pure water, so you needn’t worry about eating them. Chris drank a Moza beer to accompany his turkey salad sandwich. The bill was a fairly reasonable 127 Q (without service).
The main downside was the constant noise of hammering above our heads – there was clearly building work going on somewhere above us. It somewhat spoilt the restful atmosphere of the courtyard, and was even more of a problem for the two women sitting across from us who found that plaster dust was dropping into their food and drinks. There were no free tables to which they could be moved, and although staff helpfully pulled theirs away from the wall a little, from what I could see the problem continued and they cut short their lunch. You might want to check that the work is finished if you go there in the near future (we were there in November 2010) and if not ask for a table in the room at the back.
Café El Portal: Best coffee spot?
This quickly became our favourite coffee spot in Antigua. It has a great location on the west side of Parque Central, opposite the cathedral, and a well-chosen seat at the bar affords a good view of all the activity out on the street. The coffee is good, with lots of interesting choices in addition to the usual espresso, cappuccino or latte options. Typical prices: 9 Q for a double espresso, 10 Q for a cappuccino, the same for a latte. The cakes and pastries looked delicious and were served in generously large slices, but somehow I managed to resist trying them!
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Micho's café pub: A light lunch
This is another friendly spot where we found a tasty light lunch. The small interior has a number of quirky decorative items (US car registration plates, for instance), but we sat outside in the courtyard with its attractive modern fountain and surrounding craft and jade shops.
Favorite Dish: My cheese and tomato bagel and Chris’s cheese and ham croissant were washed down with a couple of bottles of our favourite Moza beer. Service was prompt and friendly and the bill reasonable, although annoyingly I seem to have forgotten to note the exact figure.
By the way, do (if you're female!) check out the ladies’ loo. You’ll be given a key to the basement ones in the building across the courtyard, which are clean and well supplied, but the outstanding feature is the washbasin taps, each of which is encased in a traditional wooden mask – see photo 2 for an example.
Bar-restaurant PERSONAJES: Best plates in town!
After checking many bars and restaurants this place is my favorite!
The ambience is beautiful with a patio garden and the service is more than friendly!
There is a big variation and choice of food and drinks.
The music is great and they show video clips with music from the 70´s & 80´s!
All together it´s for me absolute place number 1 in Antigua!
Favorite Dish: I really love the pasta food they serve and my favorite plate is chicken with spinach.......and you also really need to try the BBQ-ribs, it´s delicious!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
The Rainbow Reading Room: Healthy, delicious and all the ammenities!
Not only is this a great restaurant with bar and open patio but it is also a book store, internet cafe, travel agency and a great travellers meeting place. Any food purchase of Q30 will earn you 25 minutes of free internet time or a free 2 minute call to North America or Europe. You can keep the coupons and use them all at once as well. Happy hour is Monday/Saturday from 7:30-8:30. A great Andean band Sol Latino plays live every Thursday. The nightly bonfire will keep those nighttime chills away. The menu is extensive, breakfast served all day, with lots of healthy and vegetarian options. I found the service to be surprisingly excellent and almost always FAST!
Favorite Dish: The vegetarian lasagna served in bechamel sauce with a a side salad and garlic bread for Q32 or the vegetarian curry vegetables served with rice and a plate of spices and sauces to add at your will!
I ate at this restaurant at least ONCE a day while I was in Antigua.
Personajes: nice, cheap place for lunch
I found this restaurant to be a great place for lunch. The menu is short but it has a good salad or sandwich.
There is also a great place for internet access inside the restaurant and a big screen for watching football games.
Favorite Dish: The grilled chicken sandwich was delicious.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
Café La Escudilla: A great restuarant in Antigua
Very nice restaurant - it's great, it has an open air courtyard with vines and plants everywhere and candles giving an ambience to the place. When we entered, I felt like I was walking into a Jack Kerouac novel, but swankier. They were playing John Coltrane, and I noticed that all of the patrons appeared to be travelers, most of them European.
Open daily 7am-midnight. Bar open Mon-Sat until 1am, Sun until 8pm.
Favorite Dish: **I had the lasagna vegetariana for 20q and Priscilla had the spaghetti carbonara for 20q. My dish was so-so and Priscilla's was slightly better. But we both enjoyed the salad that came with the meal, and the portions were right-on. And for $2.50 each, who can complain? Later we came back and tried several other dishes - my favorite is the crema de zanahoria - cream of carrot soup, for 14q, and the verduras cocinas - cooked veggies with a dipping sauce for 6q. They have a really interesting vegetarian schnitzel dish too, that comes with rice and salad for 26q. Niiiiice.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
Sevicheria: La ola
Bored for all the restaurants I eat already many times here in Antigua, I walked a little outside of town and I found this brand new place named "La Ola"
It's a sevicheria, seafood dishes I never eat before!
Favorite Dish: I eat a plate with homemade serviche a la camarones, I paid Q35 and it was more than worthed!
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Cafe Condesa: Eat in the Courtyard
Located off the Parque Central on the opposite side of the cathedral, Café Condesa has a nice courtyard dining area that is beautifully landscaped. Seating on stone benches is made more comfortable with cushy pillows. A big highlight of the café is their freshly baked bread. Any sandwich ordered is worth it just for the bread. I had The Count which was a standard roast beef sandwich but was great because of the bread. I also had a slice of their raspberry apple pie which was delicious. The other highlight of our visit here was the rather large earthquake that occurred. Luckily there was no damage or injuries.
To get to the restaurant you need to walk through Libreria Case del Conde book store and past two small shops that lead to the inner courtyard and the restaurant. A stand-up/take-away coffee shop arm of the restaurant, Cafe Condesa Express, is located next door and is open early each morning for those in need of a caffeine fix. They also sell pastries, cookies, and croissants.
Favorite Dish: Raspberry apple pie
Restaurante Wiener: Near the Market
A noisy and lively place near the market and the bus terminal (across the street from my recommendation for hotel).
Favorite Dish: I had a beef stew (Hichilas) over rice, described as picante, but as mild as everything else in Guatemala. It was good all the same.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
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Da Gusto: Eat Where Bill Clinton Did!
My guide brought me to the Da Gusto Restaurant which is famous for being where Bill Clinton ate in 1999, as well as for its good food – so okay, let’s go have lunch!
It’s located near the museums and the reception was warm and friendly and there is middle courtyard, a second floor where the restrooms are, and an inner dining hall. We ate in the latter.
We both ordered steaks, and I ordered one with the combinations such that I also had chorizo and plantain and I think my guide ordered one which was a little spicier – PUYAZO. But my dish (Asado Chapin Puyazo) was really good and I finished it!
Then my guide suggested we try the Mole which is a plantain dessert bathed in chocolate. I tried it and it was good, not as sweet as plain regular plantain (although I really like sweet things, hehe).
My bill was about 330 Quetzal, tip included --- about US$60
Favorite Dish: Asado Chapin Puyazo and the plantainRelated to:
- Family Travel
Quesos y Vino: Great pizza in Antigua
Pizza made in a honeycomb oven using firewood just like in the old days in the old country, fresh home made pasta, cheeses and wine. What more could you want?
The restaurant is closed on Tuesday, but is open other days of the week.
Favorite Dish: We had a vegetarian pizza with tomatoes and basil.. very yummy!
Las Antorchas: My Antigua Dining Recommendations
On the whole, I found myself rather disappointed with the Antigua dining scene. Most of the meals I ate during my two trips there were good, but given the elevated prices that most restaurants in Antigua charge (as compared to prices throughout the rest of Central America), the food shouldn't be merely good, it should be excellent. But it rarely was. The one restaurant that did manage to distinguish itself from the rest of the crowd was the charming Las Antorchas steakhouse. As I write this tip two months after the fact, my taste buds still recall the joy of savoring Las Antorchas' succulent steak in blue cheese sauce.
Four other restaurants that also deserve an honorable mention are the low-key Asjemenou at 5ta Calle Pte. #4 (one-half block west of the Parque Central), where pizza, pasta, and other dishes average around $7 per person; Frida's, located just beyond the Arco de Santa Catarina, where good Mexican food averages around $10 per plate; Cafe Condesa, found facing the Parque Central, where duly famous breakfasts average around $5; and Cafe Rocio, on 6ta Ave. Norte, where Asian cuisine will set you back around $8 per person.
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