what to eat in panajachel: the cheap, the dirty and the rest

panajachel (or simply ‘pana’ to guatemalans) is the largest and most westernized town of all the lakeside dwellings.  the offerings from many of the restaurants are a mix of ‘comida tipico’ aka: typical food yet nachos and burgers are on the majority of menus around town.  we’re nowhere near getting sick of latin american food yet so the majority of our meals were spent eating on the cheap.

taquero mucho
-our taco craving brought us to the far reaches of the town.  we walked and walked and walked some more.  with no directions, no position on google map and only a hunger to guide us, the price for tacos dropped from 25q to 20q to 15q and down to 10q for three tacos.  works for us.  so good that we went back twice!  burritos break the bank at a whopping 15q each.

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the light at the end of the taco tunnel
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on the outskirts of tiny pana, by the san francisco bridge
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yummy 10q tacos

katan pe
-if you’re in the mood for a no frills sandwich, katan pe serves up a variety for 15q each.  between chicken or the sliced pork with pineapples, you can get a number of tangy sandwiches though none of them were spicy.

deli llama de fuego
-we were eating the majority of our dinners around 9pm and by then the majority of restaurants were empty and looked quite sad and depressing.  we ended up eating most of our meals at deli llama de fuego because we had such a good first experience there.  they focus on healthy eating though you can also get a gluttonous meal as well (i would recommend the burger served on pita with sprouts and roasted vegetables).  they’re smack dab in the middle of calle santander, have tasty drinks (though at tourist prices)

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hibiscus and chia seeds
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chicken soup with rice and a half avocado trying to stay afloat
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oh yeah and the restaurant is built around a tree

i also had the banana curry soup that comes with gobs of roughly diced ginger that was amazing.  ginger normally turns me off in a big way but the heat of the curry and the spice of the ginger are tied together by the sweetness of the banana.  so worth it at 18q.

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not a very photogenic bowl of soup but it made it up in flavour

 

breakfast at lazaronis
-we only managed one breakfast meal during our stay and ended up at lazaronis because i had heard the name mentioned from another blog.  their posted price for the typico breakfast was 30q yet we were only charged 20q and each of us had a huge plate and bowl of food to get through.  in addition to your eggs, beans, tortillas and meat, you also get a side order of granola/oats flavoured with cinnamon and milk.  it was surprising but we were the only gringos in the restaurant during our only visit.

crossroads coffee
-we heard a lot about guatemalan coffee and crossroads was the first place that delivered with a punch.  behind the counter is mike, the friendliest person you’ll ever meet who moved his family down from california in the 80s and every hectic step has been documented in his coffee book.  you’ll meet plenty of regulars that stop through on an almost daily basis and it’s a great place to share stories.  he sources and roasts his own beans in the back and you’re able to purchase them by the pound as well.  i can’t say enough good things about mike.  a must-do if you’re stopping through pana.

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well said!
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we’re a long ways from starbucks
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caution: mike WILL talk your ear off and time will fly right by if you’re not paying attention. be warned :)

panaderia san miguelito
-the busiest bakery we found in pana.  it was off of the main strip and at all hours of the day, local women are filling up their bags with freshly baked buns.  we walked by and filled up any leftover stomach space we had with a rice dessert.  i don’t recall the name of it but it tasted like layers of arroz (rice) and creamy flavours like milk and cocounut.

creamy goodness. 12q
creamy goodness. 12q

pupuseria cheros
-across the street from panaderia san miguelito, 10q gets you any one of their many pupusas on the menu in a small size.  for those who haven’t had one, a pupusa is a thick corn tortilla that is stuffed with a filling of your choice (veggie, cheese, meat or a combination of them), patted until flat like a disc and fried on a griddle until just barely toasted.  what you’re left with is a soft, chewy, melty cake of deliciousness.  one isn’t enough, you’re probably going to want at least three and they’re served up with a vinegary slaw and salsa.

street food
-street food is easy to find in pana.  the majority of the stalls line the main street of calle santander and you can get a solid mix of food.  grilled corn, tacos, gringas, churrasco, enchiladas and even homemade desserts.  you won’t find much in the daytime aside from the corn stands but once dusk comes around, the stands start setting up.  during our four nights there, we found stands setting up the exact same spots and our favs were the churrasco (grilled skirt steak & chicken) that are served with green onions and tortillas and a taco stand closer towards the water with a healthy number of chorizo and longaniza (sausage) links hanging from the top of their cart.  tip: ask for the grilled pineapples with your tacos, they are amazing.  i wish we had pictures from those meals to show off but you’ll just have to trust us.  you shouldn’t have to pay more than 25q for a huge portion of food, just watch to see what others are paying.

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i got busted

i will say, pana isn’t particularly inspiring for food especially if you’re trying to escape american fare.  get used to hearing lots of english, turning down ladies selling bracelets & scarves regularly as well as stumbling drunks.  prices on average are cheaper than antigua by about 30% but are more expensive than other villages by about 30% as well.  it’s an easy stay since it is the main port in lake atitlan but you will likely want to venture off after a few days.  we did just that…

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