Guatemala food and drink is primarily influenced by the country's Mayan and Spanish cultures. However, it also received influences from African and Caribbean cultures. Nowadays, their food is a mixture of tons of different international influences such as Chinese, American, and the vegetarian movement.
Ready for a taste of Guatemalan food?
Guatemala breakfasts are simple, typically including an assortment of eggs, tortillas, beans, and plantains. Some are also served with cheese or cream. Many breakfasts in Guatemala take advantage of the country's abundant tropical fruits like bananas, papaya, mangoes, and avocado. In some places, you might even get some oats. And of course, no Guatemalan breakfast is complete without a mug of world-class Guatemalan coffee.
Corn, beans, rice, pork, beef, chicken, cheese, and tortillas form the backbone of most Guatemalan cuisine. Meat stews (caldos) and soups (sopas) are easily the most popular dishes among locals. If you order roast chicken, don't be startled if your Guatemala meal comes with the feet still attached (rare, but not unknown).
By checking out the menus, you will discover that many meals in Guatemala have similarities to those of Mexico, Guatemala's neighbor to the northwest. Guatemala food such as nachos, tamales, and enchiladas are just as delicious as you'll find in your favorite Mexican restaurant–and much cheaper. Chinese food restaurants, pizza places, and fried chicken stands are also quite common in Guatemalan cities and towns.
Three of the main Guatemalan dishes:
- Chiles Rellenos: Chile peppers stuffed with rice, cheese, meat, and vegetables. They are battered, fried and often topped with a spicy tomato sauce.
- Chicken Pepian: Chicken in spicy sauce with pumpkin seeds and sesame. This is the national dish of Guatemala.
- Kak’ik: A traditional Mayan turkey soup with spices like coriander, achiote, and chile peppers. A must-try.
Snacks and Sides
- Guacamole: Served with chips, fried plantains or as a topping to other Guatemalan food.
- Spiced mango: Sliced green mango, seasoned with chili and lime, sold from street carts.
- Tortillas: Thin, flat corn cakes, a staple in Guatemala food. As cheap as five cents on the street.
- Nachos: They include all sorts of tasty toppings like cheese, refried beans, meat, cream, avocado, and peppers, and almost always include fresh hot chips. Delicious!
- Elotes: Roast ears of corn with cheese, lime, chili, and butter or mayonnaise.
- Tres Leches Cake (Pastel de Tres Leches): This is a cold kind of dessert, a cake soaked in three types of milk, including evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream.
- Flan: A wobbly, golden-colored caramel custard with some liquid caramel on top.
Where to Eat and What You'll Pay
Guatemala is one of the most inexpensive Central America countries, and accordingly, Guatemalan food is cheap. You'll only find United States prices in the most touristy destinations like Flores and Antigua Guatemala; and even there, less pricey options are broad. Small eateries offer the best and cheapest alternatives.
International restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops are typical in well-trod areas. However, local eateries and street vendors are the best places to try authentic Guatemalan food (and less authentic, like fried chicken and french fries). Just remember the traveler's mantra: wash it, peel it, cook it, or forget it.