Restaurants & Bars

Guatemala - Antigua Panajachel 5/14

Worldwide Diner | Jun 1, 201408:54 PM     5

I spent a week in Guatemala, arriving in Antigua on 5/24 (Saturday). It was the day of the UEFA Championship League finale, with Real Madrid playing Atletico. Atletico scored first and then played defense, much to the chagrin of the locals, who are mostly Real Madrid fans. I meant to have a little snack, a pequeño nachos, at my hotel (Hotel Soleil) but it was a huge plate of chips, some chicken strips, lots of guacamole, cheese, and tomatoes. Most importantly, it was lukewarm and became cold quickly. Not a good start to my trip.

After Atletico lost in OT, I wondered thru the markets on the west side of town. Found the only super market in town on 8th Ave S, just south of the craft market. In the super market are the cheapest ATMs that I found ($2 fee, other ATMs in town may charge $3-$5).

Just north of the Arco de Santa Catalina (literally one door past the arch as you head toward La Merced, on 5th Ave N), I found a little wine bar staffed by English speakers. The wines by the glass weren't very good but they were cheery and informative, and the more you drink the cheaper the wine gets. I learned about worry dolls and the pharmacy not requiring prescriptions. After a few drinks, I wondered by La Merced and found myself in front of Hector's Bistro.

Hector's is a tiny place, with tables crammed in everywhere. I ordered a soup and snook, pan seared with seared potatoes. The soup was one of those pureed veggie types (I don't recall what though, on account of too many glasses of wine and a long day, got up at 5 a.m.) but it was good. The fish was definitely overcooked though.

On Sunday, I explored on my own. I went behind the local markets to see the chicken buses, then went thru the local markets to check out street food. In the comedor area, some vendors have set up make-shift cafeterias which an array of foods (see 1st photo). I didn't want to buy any so I couldn't inspect them carefully.

My plan was to brunch at Meson Panza Verde. However, upon arrival I found their brunch menu uninteresting so I asked to see the dinner menu. I wanted to eat there because the hotel/restaurant is beautiful. They agreed to serve me crab cakes and pasta with lobster from the dinner menu- and I was seated by the fountain (see photo 2). The crab cakes contained little cubes of potato and they were fishy. The lobster and the pasta were overcooked and I couldn't place what kind of greens were in the pasta (not basil, see photo 3) but it threw the taste of the plate off.

Dinner was at a less impressive but nevertheless beautiful courtyard of Posada de Don Rodrigo (see pic 4). After no luck with two Eurocentric meals, I decided to try something more local - chile relleno and enchilada. The chile relleno was fine - ground beef stuffed in a pepper that is battered and fried. The enchilada was nothing like the enchilada in the U.S. It's a crisp tortilla topped with mostly beets, and served lukewarm. So far I'm betting 0-3.

(will continue posting later).

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