Cheapest food in Livingston, Izabal
published jun 11th, 2015
Livingston is a major port town on the east coast of Guatemala. It’s situated along the north side of the mouth of the Río Dulce, and serves as a jumping-off point for Belize and Honduras, as well as a port of entry into Guatemala’s Lake Izabal.
Livingston’s calle principal is lined with restaurants that serve all kinds of traditional and foreign foods, many of which are well worth a visit. Casa Nostra, which is about five minutes down your first left from the public dock, makes the best pizza for miles as well as a mean topada (seafood soup) and a variety of other dishes.
For those looking to spend a lot less - say Q20 ($2.65) or below - there are still plenty of options.
Street food and value-packed comodores in Livingston
There are great cheap eats all over the place in Livingston, but we’ll focus on a single street for a couple of recommendations. Calle Marcos Sanchez Diaz, the first left off the main road if you’re coming from the docks, has plenty of variety. If you're looking to spend pocket change on a full belly, you're in luck.
The first comedor you’ll come across is a local favorite, almost certainly for their speed and no-frills prices. Hang out in the park with the playground directly to one side and the basketball court (more frequently used as a soccer court) just next to that.
Comedor Mary: super cheap & super basic local foods
If you’re looking for a local hangout, you found it. Old men from around Livingston often pickup breakfast and a newspaper here, and the hustlers that hang out at the dock pushing hostels on incoming tourists grab a bite here between incoming water-taxis from Belize, Puerto Barrios and Río Dulce.
The food is basic. You’ll pay Q15 ($2.00) for a skinny desayuno tipico (fried eggs, beans, cheese, tortillas and instant coffee).
If you keep moving away from the playground and basketball court, you’ll see Antojitos Náthaly on your right. This is a bit less brick-and-mortar than Comedor Mary and offers some more interesting food. In addition to all the tipico dishes they also prepare a good tortilla de harina (flour tortilla) that’s wrapped up with pretty much whatever you please. The norm is beans, cheese, sauce and some kind of meat or eggs.
This sit-down spot offers tortillas de harina among lots of other options
These tortillas are a third of an inch thick and (in patches at least) blackened to perfection. It may be more accurate to think of it as a thin pancake than a thick tortilla. Tortillas de harina come wrapped up or open face. I prefer the wrapped up option, as it’s a bit easier to get at.
A wrapped tortilla de harina with eggs, beans, cheese, eggs and a red sauce; also (instant) coffee
The tortilla de harina above is prepared with beans, cheese, sauce and eggs. It comes with (instant) coffee for Q18 ($2.40), it'll cost more for meat.
Mama Norma Rice & Beans
Mama Norma’s is right before the pila (community laundry and wash) on the left-hand side of the road. They offer Garifuna style rice and beans with various sides like chicken, fried plantain and coleslaw.
Mama Norma's is open for lunch and dinner
Garifuna style rice and beans are either cooked with coconut or fried in coconut oil. The flavor here is really delicious, although the portions aren’t especially huge. You should try these rice and beans before leaving Livingston.
Mama Norma's rice and beans are cooked with coconut and served with plantain and coleslaw
Mama Norma may be snoozing if you don’t show up at during strict lunch or dinner hours. She’d rather you wake her up for a meal than keep on walking, guaranteed. Plates start at Q15 ($2.00), more for drinks.
Restaurante El Recuerdo
This place is classic, and it's easily my favorite. It’s in the basement of the Hotel Henry Berrisford, through the half-door heading down a long, darkish hallway.
A (more than) modest entrance to the cheapest, most generous eatery in town
It’s run by an older Garifuna man and his young eight or nine year old son. The tables are a wreck, the chairs aren’t any better and the place is dark and often a little buggy. The TV blares crazy Latin American gameshows or melodramatic Mexican bandito dramas. To top it off, the kid will ask you twenty questions (in Spanish) free of charge. That said, the prices couldn’t be any lower and the portions are super generous to say the very least.
El Recuerdo offers just about all of the local fare at ludicrously low prices - like topada (seafood soup) for Q50 compared to Q90 - Q150 elsewhere. Or a full fried fish with a big salad and a (Brahva) beer for Q35. Brahva, by the way, is Q5 a can - the best price a tienda (corner store) would give you elsewhere.
This $2.00 plate included rice, beans, eggs and as much bread as you want
I paid Q15 for the plate above: rice, beans, bread and fried eggs. Nowhere else in Livingston offers these really big portions for the same price, period. Keep in mind the fare here changes a bit day-to-day, depending on what’s available. If you have the time and can deal with the run-down feel, this place deserves a spot on your Livingston agenda. Your stomach will appreciate it.
There isn’t really a menu, so you’ll have to take a gander at the signs outside or just ask for what you want.
Street food is, of course, the cheapest option pretty much anywhere in Guatemala. But it’s not always much of a meal. Also, if you happen to be a vegetarian you won’t find tons of street food options. They do, however, exist.
Street food kiosks offer all kinds of eats, including my favorite fried flour tortilla with beans and cheese.
This little street-side kiosk is about five minutes further down the road from El Recuerdo, just before Casa Nostra on the left. Among other things, they sell a hefty tortilla harina frita (fried flour tortilla) topped in beans, cheese and salsa. The dough is fluffy, so it’s a bit of a stretch calling it a tortilla.
The finished product: fried flour dough with beans, cheese and sauce for $0.80
At Q6 per tortilla, these things are heaven sent. About the size of a dinner plate and an inch or so thick, they’ll more than suffice for a not-quite-meal-time appetite.
If you’ve made it this far without picking something, consider a sit-down meal at Casa Nostra. The prices aren’t the main attraction but once you taste the food you won't complain.