Arrin Cuan serves decent Guatemalan food in a nice restaurant. My Guatemalan friend asked me what I thought and I said while it wasn’t as good as a small comedor or diner, it was ok.
I asked him what he thought and he said “It was good enough”. That seemed the perfect summary.
Two things stood out at Arrin Cuan, the chojin and the orangeade. They offer a nice sampler where you can get some relatively small tastes of four dishes. This is served with rice and tamales.
The name is from the Q’eqhi language and means “here is”. It was opened on April 4, 1989 by Martha Perez, a widow from Coban, as a means of supporting her four children. It grew from 8 tables with Martha and her mom in the kitchen to the current 70 tables and a staff of 30.
Here's what we had rated from A+ to F -
A - … Chojin
B + … Salsa
C …... Complementary tortillas
Cuatro Caminos (four dish sampler) with
C …... Kak’ik
C …... Subanik
B - …. Gallo in chica
B - …. Jocon
C …... Rice
C …... Tamalitos
C - … Robalo with rice and guacamole
B + … Orangeade
B - …. Sangria
D + … Coffee with steamed milk
Service: B + … Very, very good
Ambiance: B + … Very, very good
For this type of restaurant, a nicer sit-down place serving Guatemalan cuisine, it is miles above the dreadful, touristy La Fonda de la Calle Real in Antigua. It is not as good as El Prado in San Felipe, though it has a more extensive menu.
I would rate it pretty much on the same level of Kakao in Guatemala City. They have different approaches. Each has their flaws and strong points. Kacoa can be more complex with some dishes and I suspect the ingredients are a higher quality …which matches the higher prices. The only Guatemalans I saw there were the staff.
Guatemalans do eat at Arrin Cuan and it is not the idealized, Disney-ish version of Guatemala that Kacao presents. Still, I thought Kakao served credible food and again, much better than La Fonda.
Arrin Cuan now has a breakfast buffet that begins at 7am.
The service is super nice. The kitchen seems to be staffed by Garifuna cooks, but that doesn’t translate to the menu which carries all the Guatemalan standards. There’s live music on Friday night.
They may have marimba music in the afternoons, but it seems they have scaled back on the music. Still, my friend who worked in the area said that Arrin Cuan is always packed at lunch time, so it is a possibility.
At one time, Arrin Cuan was known for its exotic meats. Turtle soup is no longer on the menu and tepezcuintle, the reason I went there, is blacked out and no longer served. However, both those meats are on the protected species list, so perhaps that is the reason for removing them from the menu More on Tepezcuintle (aka paca or gibnut)
We were too stuffed for dessert, but they have some of the standards: bunuelos, torrejas, platano en mole. One dessert I haven’t seen anywhere else is garbanzo en dulce.
At the entrance of the restaurant there is a grill for churassco.
Restaurant record with more info such as address, phone, hours and menu
Flickr photostream with more pictures