When visiting Antigua Guatemala, eventually everyone winds up at Hector‘s, one of the best restaurants in this lovely Spanish colonial town.

But first, you have to find it.  A companion and I had been told that Hector’s was a must and that the bistro-style food was great.  And, since most of the cooking is French-influenced and always well prepared, we went on an extended hunt for Hector’s.  Finding it was a bit of a challenge.

There are any number of challenges when looking for any address in Antigua Guatemala.  I won’t list them all here, but one of the main issues is the streets and avenues have been renamed officially.  So you will find the new names on your tourist map. Unfortunately, in the majority of instances,  the old street signs spelling out the former names remain in place with no hint as to their new monikers.  Generally, the old names remain painted onto a wall or building at an intersection.  Best to just rely on the kindness of strangers and ask for directions.

The additional challenge in finding Hector’s is that he has no sign above his fine establishment and it’s a pretty small place, but always packed.  So when looking for Hector’s the best thing to do is ask for directions to La Merced Church. His place is right across the street from the butter-coloured restored convent and its around the corner from one of Antigua Guatemala’s signature landmarks, the arch on the 5th avenida.

Open for lunch and dinner, Hector’s is almost always filled with diners and he doesn’t take reservations.  Best to go between 7 and 8 p.m. or after 9:30 p.m. When you can finally get a seat in the cozy space, you’ll be treated to a limited but always finely prepared menu.  My personal favorite is herb-infused oil drenched over tomatoes and Emmental cheese with a salad at lunchtime.  And I always order the catch of the day for dinner, usually done in banana leaves with a scattering of herbs in a light butter sauce.

And yes, there really is a Hector.  He’s usually there, cooking from his tiny kitchen with sou chief and wait staff doing an amazing choreography, managing somehow not to crash into each other during hectic serving times.

Hector also keeps a good selection of imported wines on hand and I have never gone wrong following his wise counsel on what which wine to pair with anything he makes.

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