Eat cheap in Quetzaltenango (Xela)
published mar 7th, 2015
Sniffing out cheap eats is a talent of many long term and budget travellers.
You don't have to sniff very far in Xela, Guatemala to get more bang for your Quetzal.
As is the case in most of Guatemala, the key to eating cheaply in Xela is hitting up the local markets and street stalls. Not only will you eat for a fraction of restaurant | cafe prices, you will get a real sense of the local vibe and flavour.
Here's how and where to eat cheaply in Xela:
Start the day at an inexpensive comedor in the dining hall, Maya Cafe. Located a block from Parque Centro America, this is a popular choice for typical Guatemalan fare.
Check out this Google map for directions.
Make a beeline for the ladies blitzing and blending up delicious fruit smoothies. With a variety of fresh fruit at their fingertips - pineapple, banana, strawberry, watermelon- there are plenty of smoothie options for a cheap and healthy way to start the day. Request a couple of scoops of granola for an extra filling breakfast.
Fresh fruit or veggie juice is always an option, too.
Smoothie with milk, fruit and granola will set you back 10 - 13 Quetzals.
Not a fruit fan? Some stalls offer veggie juice options.
Head to another market, Mercado La Democracia, 10 blocks north of the Parque Centro America.
Check out this Google map for the location.
The walk from the parque will do you good, if you decide to partake in some delicious market churros to round off lunch.
This is a big market, but in usual Guate style, most stalls are selling the same food side by side. So it is up to you to decide who serves up the best version of the popular dishes.
PIzza for as low as Q10
The popular dishes are? Pizza, tacos and burritos with most options costing 10 Quetzals.
Oh, and the churros? 5 Quetzals with a topping of your choice. There is also a huge selection of traditional Guatemalan sweets on offer, I sampled delicious coconut biscuits, 3 biscuits for 5 Quetzals and candied fig. A cup of chopped fruit and cream will also set you back 5 Quetzals.
While the majority of stalls offer food, some do sell clothes etc and there is a child's carnival set up behind the main area. At night, this market is packed with locals, making it a great spot to soak up the atmosphere.
Had your fill (literally) of markets? There are some dining options around the city offering cheap eats:
Blue Angel Video Cafe
7 Calle 15 -79, Zona 1, Xela
Movies are also screened in the cafe
3a Calle, 15a - 20, Zona 1, Xela
Sabor de la India
15 Avenida, 3-64, Zona 1, Xela
A healthy snack is easy to find, with many Guatemalan ladies selling parcels of chopped fruit, mainly watermelon, pineapple and mango, on street corners. A fruit parcel will set you back 5 Quetzals. These are often served with salt, so speak up if you don't want a sprinkle of the salty stuff on your fruit.
Looking to warm up on a cold Xela night? A hot fruit punch is a delicious way to to just that. Served by street vendors near the square, fruit, sugar, water and spices are simmered together in big pots to produce this fragrant beverage. The punch can also be served with a shot of alcohol, tequila / fruit punch mix is a great combination.
5 Quetzals for a cup of the juice, 10 Quetzals if you want to add an alcoholic shot, for extra warmth of course.
Snacks on the cheap
Mini nachos. These delightful pieces of yumminess are a popular street food. 3 small, round tortillas are fried, topped with beef and cheese and will generally set you back 5 Quetzals.
Coffee. The most important meal of the day. You can grab your caffeine fix from one of the many street vendors for around 3 Quetzals (black or with milk).
The most important meal of the day
If, like me, you love trying new cafes, coffee in a restaurant/cafe will set you back anything from 13 Quetzals for a standard coffee, to 22 Quetzals for something little fancy like a moccachino.
Those visiting Xela will certainly find their fill of cheap culinary delights!
At the time of writing, 7 Quetzals were equal to roughly 1USD. Most of the market and street food options cost under USD $2.50