Antigua, Guatemala is the country’s favorite tourist destination. It is an old Spanish colonial town that has seen its fair share of natural disasters from volcano eruptions to massive earthquakes. Despite the history of earth-shaking events, the city has survived and now thrives with its excellent selection of activities aimed at tourists.
The economic boom has driven costs up in Antigua and tourists discover their dollar doesn’t go as far here as in other Guatemalan destinations. I’m not saying it’s expensive, in fact, it’s still relatively cheap if you’re coming from a Western country. However, travelers on a restricted budget may find themselves in a tight spot as the cost of meals and drinks eats away at their pocketbooks.
The other issue some travelers encounter is the lack of authentic Guatemalan food options. Sure, there are a few, but they are either expensive and geared towards tourists or very difficult to find.
What do you do when you’re either on a budget, looking for something authentic, or both? Enter the night market!
The man above is grilling my steak, green onions, and tortillas. It will also be served with guacamole and some pickled veggies. How much did this cost? Only a couple of bucks! An incredible deal and a welcome break from the typical tourist restaurants in Antigua.
The night market is located in the courtyard next to Iglesia de la Merced. This church, that I commonly called “the big yellow church” when describing it to other tourists, is in central Antigua and is walkable from just about anywhere in town. Google Maps is very accurate in Antigua or just ask anyone on the street and they can point you in the right direction.
Pictured below – Iglesia de la Merced, day and night.
The food was good enough that it warranted another visit the following evening. Almost all food options are grilled meats. I don’t believe there were other options, but I didnt’ exactly look hard as the smells from the grills were too enticing to look much further.
This time, I chose the grilled pork and I loved it! It was tender, cooked well, and the sides were delicious.
If I had to recommend one, it would be the pork over the steak. It was served with rice, black beans, guacamole, and some veggies. I loved this meal. It was also only a couple of dollars and worth every penny.
There are other vendors selling sweets, teas, and lemonades. Unfortunately, no fresh mango or other fruit juices, but you’ll survive. There are also convenience stores directly across the street from market if you would like to pick up a cold cerveza to go with your meal.
A few helpful hints!
No one has knives, not even plastic ones, at the various food vendors. Bring your own or buy something that you don’t need a knife for (the pork is so tender, a knife isn’t needed).
Second, as mentioned earlier, beers, bottles of wine, and other beverages and snacks are available at the convenience stores directly across the street.
Third, and this is no joke, ask for extra napkins! All places will only give you one small paper napkin. Eating with a plate in your hand gets messy, so grab extras before you walk away from your chosen food stall.
Finally, there’s a fountain near the edge of the courtyard. It makes a great place to sit versus sitting in the grass or on the street curb.
Questions or comments? Leave them below and I’m happy to help.