We are budget travelers and it’s no secret, that during lunch and dinner time you will find us in local restaurants or wherever there’s a grill. We normally stay away from big restaurants with menu prices deeper than our pockets. I mean why would we pay double the price when we can find cheap and fresh local meals a few doors down?
Before we got to Antigua, we heard that 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, the sister town of Flores for just Q20 (~$2.50 USD), we were determined to find cheap places to eat in Antigua as well, and we did.
If you are traveling on a budget or simply don’t feel like breaking the bank just to get a comida tipico (typical local food), we recommend visiting one of the places below. The prices in big restaurants range between Q40 – Q110 (~$4-$15 USD) or higher in Antigua, but the price for the places listed below range between Q20-Q30 (~$2.30-$3.50USD).
Oh and we promise that the food is good, we wouldn’t recommend places with shitty food because we wouldn’t eat shitty food either. We have eaten from all the places listed below at least once.
1. La Cocina de Paulina
We found this small restaurant by following our nose. It lead us right to a few Guatemalan women grilling some delicious food. Jackpot! Fresh food right off the grill.
At La Cocina de Paulina you can get lunch for Q20 and you have a choice of either Chuletas (pork chops), pollo asado, res (steak), or longaniza (sausages) and grilled fish. For sides you get guacamole, grilled potatoes, grilled scallions, tortillas and a drink, usually fresh fruit juice.
Location: 3a Calle Poniente 29, Antigua Guatemala
2. Aroma de Café
This local restaurant is right next door to La Cocina de Paulina and they have a wider variety of food options with each meal costing Q22.
Every day, the choice of meat and how it is prepared changes, which is great because if this is the only place where you’d like 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 (fish filet). So if you want to know what’s on the menu, you would have to walk by and check their white board for the meal of the day.
The meal is served 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) that can either be baked, grilled, or mashed. So I would say you are getting more than your money’s worth.
Location: 3ra Calle Poniente 27, Antigua Guatemala
3. La Casa de Las Mixtas
This place is an actual 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 fond of their dessert or their version of the rice milk drink called horchata. However, we did enjoy the soup which also changes every day.
The meal of the day costs Q20. For the same price you can also get a good sized burrito with your choice of meat off their main menu.
Location: 3a Calle Poniente 31, Antigua Guatemala
4. Refacciones y Pupusas Odila
Before you see the restaurant’s name, you will see the grill with pots on them and a Guatemalan lady making either tortillas or pupusas. Here they usually have a soup or salsa base with meat in it. Nine times out of ten, the meat is chicken.
They also offer longaniza, or chile rellenos (ground minced meat, covered in fried egg patter) accompanied with rice, tortillas and a drink.
Regardless of what you choose to eat, the meal still costs Q20. You can make your meal Q5 cheaper if you opt not to have tortillas with it.
If you are still hungry after your meal you can order a pupusa (maize dough filled with either cheese, pork meat or refried beans-grilled then topped with a cabbage slaw) for Q10.
Location: 3a Calle 1 (between 4a and 5a Avenida)
5. Sapo y La Rana Pupusaria
This small El Salvadorian restaurant has seen our faces and our money more times than we could remember. After having our first pupusa in Flores, we were determined to eat more of it, actually we became pupusa addicts!
And after asking around Antigua, we found Sapo y La Rana Pupuseria where we could not only get regular size pupusas (Q10) but also a mediano (Q25) and a grande (Q35), or what we like to call a Mayan Pizza!
The added bonus was that instead of the traditional fillings queso (cheese) and chicharron (fried pork skin) you get over 10 other ingredients to choose from like chicken, ham, jalapeno, carrots, asparagus or even a Central American flower call Loroco.
On average people can eat two or three pupusas and be full but my fat ass enjoys eating a grande which includes a choice of four ingredients and queso. I usually come out the other end barely breathing but it’s totally worth it.
Location: Calzada Santa Lucia Norte 11, Antigua Guatemala
6. El Porton
El Porton sells an array of different foods all for Q20. They also have a grill in front of their restaurant and the meat is made to order, meaning fresh off the grill.
There are days where you will get soup as an appetizer with your meal and days you won’t. They mostly serve what they have available that day. For example, one day you will have a regular lettuce salad as a side and the next day you will have steamed vegetables.
Even the same soup you ordered the day before will have different vegetables in it or a different side. But we liked that about this place because it kept us wandering what we would get next.
Location: 6a Calle Oriente 6A, Antigua Guatemala
7. Rincon Tipico
Rincon Tipico is the most expensive place on this list. They serve fresh food for lunch for Q30. The menu usually consists of the same typical options, Pollo a la plancha, Pepian, Longaniza and Res.
The meal is usually accompanied by rice, tortillias and ensalada (potato, vegetable or lettuce salad) and a nice natural fruit juice, which is whatever they have that day. We had the best lemonade here!
They also serve different soups if your tired of rice and tortillas. A cool thing about this place is that the meals are served on traditional Mayan pottery.
Location: 3ra Avenida Sur 3, Antigua Guatemala
8. Antigua’s Parks
In the park areas (especially at Parque La Merced on 1.a Calle Poniente and 6.a Avenida Sur on the weekends) around lunch and dinner time you can find locals selling cheap street food and snacks. You can get anything from sandwiches, tacos, empanades, to grilled corn or even pepian.
Our favorite park snack is rellenito de platano. Rellenitos are my version of a piece of heaven. The first time I bit into a rellenito, I experienced my first foodgasm.
After that we had at least 2-3 rellenitos every day for the two weeks we were in Antigua. Rellenitos are made from mashed sweet plantains which are molded into a semi-round shape and filled (hence the name) with black frijoles (bean sauces) then fried. It’s a popular Guatemalan dessert served with sugar and/or crème on top.
Rellenitos taste best when hot, and the best ones are found in the mercado behind the bus terminal. The price for one ranges between Q2.50 to Q5.
Avoid: Food Stalls Inside of the Mercado
Another place you can get cheap food is inside the mercado near the bus terminal. However, we were told by locals that many people (including the locals) get sick from the food there and to avoid it all cost. But us being us, we checked it out anyway.
Though we ate there, we wouldn’t recommend it. Despite the fact that we didn’t get sick, it wasn’t really sanitary and all of the restaurants at the food court sell the same things, so when they see someone they are literally grabbing, pulling and harassing you to come to their stall. We weren’t too fond of that so we didn’t go back.
But hey, if you don’t care about those things, feel free to check it out!
So there you have it, even in this expensive colonial town called Antigua, you can still find cheap, fresh and good local food. Oh and if this list was too pricey for your budget you can always live off of tortillas and fruits from the market. :D Buen provecho!
Don’t forget to also check out our guide on the best things to do in Antigua Guatemala.