Central America, Destinations, Food and Drink, Guatemala, Travel Resources

Where to Eat in Quetzaltenango

Ah Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, home to hundreds of Spanish language schools, volcano trekking, home stays, and so much more. I spent a good six months calling this lovely, crazy city home in 2016 and in that time learned why Xela, as it is known by its indigenous name, seems to have a knack for getting people stuck; you come for a week then 3 months later you find yourself ordering your usual from Tacorazon and smuggling a bottle of Quetzalteca into El Cuartito to jazz up your mojitos on the cheap.

For my first three months in Xela, I lived with a host family and while living with host families is an amazing way to fully immerse yourself in a new culture, sometimes you just have a craving for something different, something not tortilla based, and that’s where this post comes in. This will serve as a guide for dinner out options and new tastes to explore while staying in Xela.

12. Sabe Deli

For some reason Sabe Deli has one of the highest Trip Advisor ratings for restaurants in Xela, but in my opinion it is not deserved. I had a rather terrible experience here, but many of my friends swear by their pizza so it will get a nod. If you are looking for pasta or salad go elsewhere, but if you’ve got an itch that only pizza can scratch head over to Sabe Deli. It’s a little quasi-Italian place that serves good smoothies, bad pasta, great pizza, and depressing salads so order wisely, it can be hit or miss.


11. Pollo Campero

Pollo Campero is the only Guatemalan chain to expand outside of Guatemala and you can see why, they are busy at all hours and very much loved here. Campero is a reliable option for fried or grilled chicken, decent salads, and passable sandwiches. The prices are generally around Q40, but there are deals some days of the week, so watch out for those. You can find a Campero almost everywhere in Guatemala, but the most convenient location for those living near Parque Central or Sol Latino is on the east side of Parque Central.

5 Calle 10-24 Zona 1, $$

10. El Cuartito

We originally found Cuartito due to its heavenly mojitos, but after a menu update it’s actually a good option for food as well. The kebabs are good and their salad is one of the better one’s I’ve come across in Xela. An important note is that this is not the place to go if you’re very hungry, the portions are smallish, but well priced for the size. The best way to end a meal here is with a hot chocolate with Bailey’s or with another blackberry mojito if you’re feeling wild.

13 Avendia 7-09 Zona 1, $$

9. Cups and Mates

Cups and Mates is another cafe that also has great food options. Some of my favorites are the Cups and Mates papas fritas, sliders mixtos, and the taco bowl salad. The papas fritas are basically a mountain of wedge potato fries covered in ground beef, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and salsa. Seriously though, bring at least 2 people with you to share these fries because I am not kidding when I say a mountain. The coffee drinks here are good depending on who is working, the female barista is new and not very good at making espresso drinks. Hours are Monday through Thursday 7am to 10 pm, Friday to Saturday 7am to 11pm, and Sunday 8am to 8pm.
14 Avendia Zona 1, $$

8. Cardinali’s

If you are craving Italian style pastas Cardinali’s is the place to go. Their gnocchi is better than Distinto’s, which considering I have Distinto rated as the second best restaurant in Xela is really quite high praise. The tip here is get a pasta dish, not the pizza. The pizza is meh and a little over priced, but the pasta is definitely worth it as it is all housemade. Pasta dishes run Q75 to Q90.

14 Avendia 3-25 Zona 1, $$$

7. Sabor de la India

Sabor de la India was yet another surprise for me coming to Xela. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get Indian food during my time in Guatemala, but I was wrong. The food is Guatemalan good, a phrase I coined to mean I like it here, but there’s definitely better options back home. Main courses run Q60 to Q75 so it is a little pricier than most places in Xela, but definitely worth it if you’re craving curry. I recommend the pollo thali, because they really do a great chicken curry. They are open Monday through Friday 12 to 10pm.

15 Avenida 2-19A Zona 1, $$$

6. Tertulianos

Tertulianos is the other fine dining option in Xela, hence the four dollar signs. It is located in a beautiful big house/museum that is across from Distinto. On Sunday this is a great brunch option, but definitely go hungry because the Q100 price tag makes you want to eat your money’s worth. Their brunch is well supplied with omelettes to order, pastries galore, yogurt, fruit, waffles, varied breakfast meats, and the traditional black beans, fried plantains, and rice.

14 Avenida 5-26 Zona 3, $$$$

5. Tacorazon

If you’re missing some good ol’ Chipotle, this is the place to go. It opened very recently, February 2016, but is already becoming a staple of any expat’s diet. You can order tacos, burritos, or rice bowls but I’d say the tacos really aren’t worth the expense, just go to the tres por diez guy down the street. However, the burritos are a great value at Q40 for a properly huge burrito stuffed with anything you desire. Also, the owner Jesse is awesome and will give you a to-go cup for your margarita or tequila shot, both of which are quite good.

12 Avenida 3-80, $$

4. La Comida de Taiwan

Unfortunately for us this gem of a restaurant opened in the last couple weeks of our stay in Xela, but luckily for you guys it’s looking like it will stick around due to its instant popularity. They serve the best Asian food I have had in Guatemala, much better than the sad imitation that Esquina Asiatica serves up. The menu is small, fried rice, stir fries, Asian empanadas, and a few full meal dishes, but everything is flavorful and well done. The prices make this find even more of a jackpot as most dishes run between Q18 and Q25 for properly large portions.

7a Calle 13-17, $

3. Aqui Me Quedo

This is one place I really wish we had found sooner, we went here late in the program for dinner and it was impressively good for a reasonable price. The menu is varied with anything from Argentine empanadas to Mediterranean falafel, but my personal favorite is the chicken florentine with their green salad. The one downside is that you can only eat at the restaurant with a large, pre-reserved group so if you are craving some falafel you need to call in for take out. Aqui Me Quedo is also a really cool NGO that works with de-stigmatizing HIV/AIDS and many other interesting projects, so you can feel extra good about ordering take out when said take out is supporting great social work.

10 Calle 13-63 Zona 1, $$

2. Distinto

Distinto is the fanciest restaurant in Xela. It has a beautiful atmosphere and is a wonderful spot for a nice night out. You almost feel like you’ve been transported to the Antigua food scene when you sit down at one of their candle lit tables. Their food is worth the higher price tag, as most dishes run between Q80 and Q120. The food here is eclectic, with everything from gnocchi to sliders, but it is all done well. I recommend the salmon and the apple pie crumble with Nutella.

14 Avenida 5-37 Zona 3, $$$$

1. Bajo La Luna

Bajo is my favorite place to eat in Xela by far. The food is great taste for value, at Q39 for a huge housemade burger you really can’t go wrong. Their menu is small, just burgers and cheese fondu, but everything is done to perfection. For the burgers you have the option of beef, pork and beef, garbanzo beans, or fish. The fries are perfectly crisped potato wedges, seasoned with chili spice, and the wine selection is affordable, yet good. Wednesday is “Winesday” and all wine is 20% off. Their scheduled hours are 7 to 11pm Tuesday through Saturday, but Bajo takes these as more of loose guidelines than strict opening hours. It is very common for them to open closer to 8pm or not at all, but don’t be discouraged, it is worth the wait. Important note, Bajo La Luna is around the corner from Cafe La Luna, it is not Cafe La Luna. Cafe La Luna is open more often, but their burgers are rather depressing and no where near the level of Bajo La Luna.

4a Calle D3-72 Zona 1, $$

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