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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > Guatemala

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Guatemala Food and Drink

Guatemala’s cuisine tends to have distinctive regional variations. Many of the dishes have descended from Mayan ancestry combined with Spanish and Mexican influences. The country’s cuisine relies on the core staples of corn tortillas, black beans and white rice, which are generally served alongside meat and fish, although soups and stews also feature heavily in the local diet.

All dishes tend to include some meat, which makes life tough for vegetarians, but fish and seafood are found in coastal regions. Many dishes are spicy thanks to the fiery chillies, which are found in most kitchens.

Popular drinks include fruit juices and beer. Despite producing some of the world’s best coffee, it’s hard to get a decent cup; most of the good stuff is exported and local coffee tends to be served weak and sweet. Guatemalan rum, however, ranks among the best in the world.

Specialities

Tamales: Corn dough stuffed with a variety of meats, fruits and nuts, and wrapped in banana leaves.
Kaq ik: A turkey soup seasoned with samat, a herb from the Alta Verapaz region.
Pepian: A rich, spicy stew made from chicken, beef or pork with tomatoes, tamales, peppers, chillies and tortillas.
Empanadas: A Central American staple made from flour or corn pastries filled with meat and/or potatoes.
Tapado: A spicy fish stew popular in the Garifuna-inhabited Caribbean coast.
Caldo: A rustic stew made with beef (caldo de res) or chicken (caldo de pollo) and Guatemalan vegetables such as güicoy and güisquil (types of squash).
Chiles rellenos: Peppers stuffed with vegetables, meat and cheese.
Fiambre: Salad of pickled vegetables and cured sausage, eaten on All Saint’s Day.
Frijoles: Black refried beans – a staple in many Guatemala dishes.
Guacamole: Mashed avocado with onions and spices.
Flan: A wobbly custard desert that comes in several flavours including caramel, orange and coconut.
Gallo: This straw-coloured lager is Guatemala’s national beer.
Licuados: Fresh fruit juices blended with water or milk to make a kind of fruit shake.
Quetzalteca: An extremely potent raw cane spirit.
Ron Centenario Zacapa: A locally made, award-winning rum that is internationally acclaimed.

Things to know

Lunch is often eaten in a comedor (diner-style restaurant), which offer a comida corrida or menúejecútivo – a cheap, set-meal.

Tipping

10% is normal in restaurants where service has not been included.

Drinking age

18.

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