On the 7a Avenida Norte in Antigua Guatemala you’ll find an eclectic mix of small hotels, shops, Spanish schools, restaurants and bars, all of which are somewhat away from the main fray that radiates from the Parque Central.
Yolkobsens enjoy this stretch of Antigua Guatemala’s “avenida-scape,” located on the 7th Avendida Norte between the 4th and 1st Calles, because its a different arena for people watching, store browsing and, yes, restaurant sampling.
Over a few weeks, Yolkobsens had lunch in a number of establishments on this unique strip of the town. The following provides short reviews of three.
Antigua (Guatemala) Leyendas — 7a Avenida Norte #42
Located at one of the more southern points of the avenue, Antigua (Guatemala) Leyendas is a cozy family-run establishment decked out in classic Guatemalan colours. The walls hold framed concepts of the “leyendas” legends from the Maya origin stories. While dining you can enjoy the wall depictions of Maya stories of creation, destruction and rebirth. No extra charge.
The food is well prepared and typical of the Guatemala lunch. But Leyendas’ platos have a real home cooking appeal. I had a kindly-prepared roast chicken, with scented rice and crisp seasonal vegetables. Mr. Y. had a pork cutlet with spaghetti and broccoli, cooked just right. The service was excellent, with the cook coming out to ask how we were enjoying her offerings. She made us feel like we were sitting in her home having lunch with an old friend. The fare at Antigua is very reasonably priced. The tab for two, including non-alcoholic beverages, was less than you’d pay for one McFeed for one person back in your hometown.
Restaurante La Estrella – 7a Avenida Norte #42
North Americans like variety in their food. So if you are one of those and have a hankering for Chinese cuisine, this is a good place to drop into. The only indication that this is a Chinese food restaurant is the lovely black and gold Mandarin screen that sits in the front entrance way and which can be seen clearly from the street. If you look up, immediately from the screen, you’ll see a Guatemalan flag depicted under the restaurant sign. All of this makes for a real multicultural start.
Once in the eatery, there’s not a hint of anything from the orient. It could be any Guatemalan eatery in a converted colonial house, but for the presence of Estrella herself. There’s something supremely graceful about this woman as she moves from table to table. Her small daughters caper about her as she manages tables and the kitchen and she doesn’t lose a beat with them or her customers. When she comes to your table you feel you are in the presence of a kind and clear soul. The food is really good too.
We ordered the mixed vegetables, a constellation of crisp seasonal vegetables done with the time-honored Chinese preference for plenty of corn starch to make the food glisten. It tasted pretty much the way it would at your hometown Chinese place, but with a Guatemalan flavor. Fried rice was competently prepared with four ingredients — pork, beef, shrimp and egg — a real protein plate. This was also very good and the soy sauce provided was easy on the sodium so that it mixed in to enliven but not overshadow the rice dish. Price for two, including a beer for Mr. Y and soft drink for me, rang in at what you might pay for a two small lattes and a pastry at your local hometown over-priced coffee chain outlet. Hint, hint: Seattle-based corporation.
Jardin Bavaria – 7a Avenida Norte #49
This odd mix of Bavaria and Guatemala is worth looking into if you find yourself in the 7th avenue north barrio/nachbarshaft, especially if your palette is yammering at you for a classic plate of German sausage, sauerkraut and fried potatoes that really “schmecks.”
Mr. Y was looking forward to sampling some fine German beer and was encouraged when the waitress, a sweet young Guatemalan woman rocking a classic Bavarian dirndl, poofy-sleeved white blouse and striped apron, put down coasters promoting Konig Pilsner. He was somewhat disappointed that the beer menu consisted of Gallo, Gallo and Gallo. However, his mood lifted when he found the Jardin Bavaria offers the Guatemalan beer on tap, a rare score. So we still managed to get a “prosit” out of him.
We ordered the Sueno de Sandwiches for two. This is a honkin’ big plate of four kinds of sausages, and yes, sauerkraut and fried potatoes. The sausages tasted really authentic and are made in the fine old “wurst” tradition. The mustard, which is all important since it is the only condiment, also had that real old country authenticity. The meal was complemented with two kinds of pretzels, hard and soft, which are baked in the Jardin’s kitchen.
In the end, we thought we would have to do a star turn of the “She’s Too Fat for Me Polka” if it played on the music system. It’s a lot of food but it’s good food. The service was excellent and friendly. We rolled out of there after our meal, which included two draft beers and an agua pura, for a third of the price you would pay at German restaurant in your northern “ciudad natal/heimatstadt.” For you monolinguals out there, that’s German-Spanish for your hometown.