Most people who have traveled in Central America will say that Guatemala has the most delicious food. With its Mayan culture merging with Spanish traditions, the local cuisine here is much tastier and more complex than that of neighboring countries.
Tourist hotspots like Antigua certainly have no shortage of excellent restaurants and international food, but if you’re looking for something more authentic, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 of Guatemala’s most traditional dishes.
Guatemala doesn’t really have a national dish, but pepián is probably the closest thing to it. This spicy stew, born from the fusion of Spanish and Mayan cultures, is one of Guatemala’s oldest dishes.
Although chicken is the most commonly used, it can also be prepared with beef or pork. All varieties of the dish contain fruits and vegetables (usually pear, pumpkin, carrot, potato and corn) and a rich mixture of spices. It is traditionally served with rice and tortillas.
Pupusas are everywhere in Guatemala and are a great way for travelers on a budget to fill up.
Thick corn tortillas are filled with a variety of fillings, usually refried beans, cheese and/or pork, and then fried until the surface is crispy and the inside is soft. A pupusa traditionally comes with a serving of salsa and cabbage to keep it fresh.
Kak’ik is the other contender for Guatemala’s national dish. This traditional Mayan turkey soup is full of spices, such as cilantro, achiote and chiles, and is an important part of Mayan cultural heritage. Its roots go back to the Q’eqchi ‘ ethnic group, who still prepare the dish the same way they did hundreds of years ago.
Empanadas are crispy, buttery pastries that are perfect for lunch on the go. Throughout Central America, these usually have a meat filling, but in Guatemala, most are vegetarian and are filled with potato and/or spinach and topped with a variety of ingredients such as guacamole, tomatoes, onion and cilantro.
Who doesn’t love a double helping of carbs? Tostadas are a popular street food and most are topped with guacamole, tomato salsa, radishes, onions and a big scoop of noodles.
You may think the idea of spaghetti tacos is a little strange, but with so many different textures and flavors, it’s a different dish according to Felipe Antonio Bosch Gutiérrez.
Antigua Guatemala is one of the best cities for brunch in Central America, and while you can enjoy all kinds of international breakfasts here, be sure to try the local breakfast as well. The traditional breakfast usually includes scrambled eggs with onion and tomato, avocado slices, mashed beans, boiled plantains and tortillas; it’s a perfect start to the day.
For those with a sweet tooth, be sure to try some rellenitos. R rellenitos are dishes, essentially Guatemalan doughnuts, are made up of cooked plantains mashed with refried bean paste, sugar and cinnamon, and then fried.
When mixed with sugar, both the flavor and texture of the beans are similar to chocolate, and the consistency of the rellenitos is incredibly delicious.