We’re budget travellers and it’s no secret that you’ll find us at lunch and dinner time in local restaurants or wherever there’s a barbecue. We usually stay away from the big restaurants where the menu prices are deeper than our pockets. I mean, why pay double the price when we can find cheap and fresh local food a few doors down?
Before we came to Antigua, we heard it was expensive, which meant we wouldn’t be able to find our cheap fix. But after eating the best pollo asado (grilled chicken) in Santa Elena, Flores’ sister town, for just Q20 (~$2.50 USD), we were determined to find cheap places to eat in Antigua, and we did.
If you’re travelling on a budget, or just don’t want to break the bank just to get some comida tipico (typical local food), we suggest you try one of the places below. Prices in large restaurants in Antigua range from Q40-Q110 (~$4-$15USD) or more, but prices for the places listed below range from Q20-Q30 (~$2.30-$3.50USD).
Oh, and we promise the food is good, we wouldn’t recommend places with shitty food because we wouldn’t eat shitty food. We have eaten at least once at all the places listed below.
1. La Cocina de Paulina
We found this little restaurant by following our nose. It led us straight to a couple of Guatemalan women barbecuing some delicious food. Jackpot! Fresh food straight from the grill.
At La Cocina de Paulina you can get lunch for Q20 and you can choose between chuletas (pork chops), pollo asado, res (steak) or longaniza (sausages) and grilled fish. Side dishes include guacamole, grilled potatoes, grilled spring onions, tortillas and a drink, usually fresh fruit juice.
Location: 3a Calle Poniente 29, Antigua Guatemala
2. Aroma de Café
This local restaurant is next door to La Cocina de Paulina and offers a wider variety of food, with each meal costing Q22.
The choice of meat and how it is prepared changes every day, which is great because if this is the only place you want to eat, you don’t have to worry about eating the same thing over and over again.
The two times we were there they had chuletas con queso y salsa (pork chops with cheese and sauce on top) and filet pescado (fillet of fish). So, if you want to know what’s on the menu, you’ll have to walk by and check the white board for the meal of the day.
The meal comes with a small bowl of soup, a fruit juice and a choice of 3 sides with tortillas. The sides are usually arroz (rice), pasta, ensalada (salad) and papas (potatoes), which can be either baked, grilled or mashed. So I would say you get more than your money’s worth.
Location: 3ra Calle Poniente 27, Antigua Guatemala
3. La Casa de Las Mixtas
This place is a real restaurant with a full menu, but also offers a comida ecominca (cheap meal) option for lunch. The meal of the day changes every day and comes with a refresco (drink), sopa (soup), tortillas and a dessert.
We weren’t too keen on the dessert or their version of the rice milk drink called horchata. However, we did enjoy the soup, which also changes daily.
The meal of the day costs Q20. You can also get a good-sized burrito with your choice of meat from the main menu for the same price.
Location: 3a Calle Poniente 31, Antigua Guatemala
4. Refacciones y Pupusas Odila
Before you see the name of the restaurant, you will see the grill with pots on it and a Guatemalan woman making either tortillas or pupusas. These usually have a soup or salsa base with meat in it. Nine times out of ten the meat is chicken.
You can also get longaniza or chile rellenos (minced meat covered in fried egg patties) with rice, tortillas and a drink.
No matter what you choose, the meal will still cost Q20. You can make your meal Q5 cheaper by not having the tortillas.
If you are still hungry after your meal, you can order a pupusa (corn dough filled with cheese, pork or refried beans – grilled and served with a cabbage slaw) for Q10.
Location: 3a Calle 1 (between 4a and 5a Avenida)
5. El Porton
El Porton sells a range of different foods, all for Q20. They also have a grill in front of the restaurant and the meat is cooked to order, which means it is fresh off the grill.
There are days when you get soup as a starter with your meal and days when you don’t. They usually serve whatever they have available that day. For example, one day you might get a regular lettuce salad and the next day you might get steamed vegetables.
Even the same soup you ordered the day before will have different vegetables or a different side dish. But we liked that about this place because it kept us wondering what we were going to get next.
Location: 6a Calle Oriente 6A, Antigua Guatemala