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Restaurants & Bars

Antigua, GT: EL Arco Restaurant

rworange | Jan 23, 201111:42 AM

Located in the Hotel Convento Santa Catalina Mártir, it describes itself as international which means it has Mexican, Guatemala, Italian and South American dishes on the menu. The Argentine sausage is house made and the menu is heavy on steak. A brief children’s menu is available

I don’t have a lot to report here because I just had drinks.

The sangria was a standard Guatemalan version, lemonade topped with red wine. It was fine.

The michelada had a nicely salted rim. I’m guessing the tomato mix was V-8 because it tasted exactly like that.

The restaurant, which is located in the wide corridor surrounding the patio, was nice enough. I don’t find it as pretty as some. However, the building was a 16th century convent and they are preserving the architectural integrity. The arch was part of the convent.

They have done a bit to brighten the austere architecture. The tahle linens use Guatemala fabrics. The tables are set with fresh flowers. There are a number of flat screen TVs along the walls. Something other than plastic Tiffany-type lamps might be a better idea. The waiters are nicely uniformed with white shirts and black pants and ties.

The restaurant opened in 2005 and I couldn’t find any reviews about it on the web other than comments included in the reviews of the hotel.

One of the things I keep reading about the hotel is the staff is exceptionally nice. That was my experience and the thing I’ll remember most about El Arco.

This restaurant was way down on my list to try. It is right under the famous arch so in tourist central. To make matters worse, there was a barker who was trying to lure me in … the combo is usually never a good sign and this type of thing makes me run in the opposite direction. However, I was exhausted and decided to have a drink. It was a very pleasant experience.

They just have a patio and restaurant, no bar (or it was in an area I couldn’t see). I told them I just wanted a drink and they were more than fine with that, welcomed me in and seated me at a nice table and not the patio. It was freezing in Antigua that week. If you look at the photos you will see clear plastic on the arches to keep the cold out. Most restaurants don’t have that and are like sitting in a cooler. There are also heat lamps in the restaurant.

The staff speaks English. They let me linger and rest as long as I wanted and didn’t push me to order extra drinks. Finally I ordered the michelada since I was feeling guilty about spending all that time at the table.

There are mixed reviews about the hotel due to the antiquity of the place. Either you love it or hate it. The rooster next door that crows according to one poster at exactly 4:22 each morning gets mentioned as much as the church bells that chime on the half hour.

However, I haven’t read one negative comment about the food. People seem to like it. One person mentioned the owner and his wife have dinner in the restaurant every night to keep an eye on things.

Though they don’t serve breakfast to the general public, a breakfast of made-to-order omelets is included with the price of the room for hotel guests. There were always positive comments about this.

Another nice touch is that if you are leaving for the airport early in the morning, they have coffee waiting for you at the door and a bag packed with breakfast to eat at the airport or on the plane. The menu notes that the restaurant serves R. Dalton coffee from a large and respected grower and roaster

When I was leaving I noticed a nice grill area at the back of the restaurant. The chef was firing up the grill for dinner. So I would guess the grilled meats might be good.

While I might not make this a high priority, someday I might go back and try those Argentine sausages.

Flickr photostream with additional pictures
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7685047@...

Restaurant record with address and other info
http://www.chow.com/restaurants/916284

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