To the left of the Panajachel boat dock, the first place you’ll come across is Nick's Place (tel. 7721-8065, 7 a.m.–midnight daily, $4–8), serving good-value Guatemalan and International dishes inside or outside on the terrace.
One block on the left as you head up the street into town, the Alegre Pub and Restaurant (tel. 7721-8100, 5 p.m.–1 a.m. Mon., 9 a.m.–1 a.m. Tues.–Sat., 9 a.m.–11 p.m. Sun.) serves authentic pub grub, including Indian curry, Cajun fare, chili, baked potatoes, and fish ’n chips. There’s a nice rooftop garden.
Just around the corner is the best place for light fare on this side of town, Fata Morgana (7:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Thurs.–Tues., $4-8). You’ll find sandwiches, baguettes, pizza, pasta, fruit smoothies, and a wide selection of teas. They roast their own local coffee.
Up the street from the Panajachel dock, if you make a right, the first place of note is Freedom (8a Calle Zona 2, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $2–7), where you’ll find quesadillas, nachos, vegetarian dishes, pasta, pizza, and steaks on its varied menu. It has a nice garden fronting the lake.
Next door, Shanti Shanti (8a Calle 3-93 Zona 2, tel. 5561-8423, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) has wonderful lake views, chill music, Israeli food, sandwiches, smoothies, and delicious breads and cakes.
Just down the street, Chile's (tel. 4222-8292, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, $4–7) is wildly popular for its wonderful wooden deck fronting the lake and good Pan-Asian cuisine that includes pad thai, paneang gai, and tandoori chicken. The French-press coffee is also quite good. Hookas and salsa lessons round out its list of offerings.
There are a number of good eateries in the part of town inland between the two docks known as El Otro Lado. Among them is Zoola (all meals daily), housed in its namesake lodge and serving freshly prepared food, including vegetarian fare, though chicken salads and meat lasagnas are also on the menu. You can dine under a pleasant open-air, thatched-roof structure.
Nearby is The Buddha (tel. 5967-6810, noon–1 a.m. daily), housed in a three-level building with a pool table and darts on the first floor, a dining area and chill-out lounge on the second floor, and a rooftop terrace bar. The restaurant serves authentic Asian and Guatemalan fusion cuisine with a variety of rice, noodle, and curry dishes, sushi, soups, wraps, and tasty desserts at reasonable prices. There’s a hookah water pipe smoking lounge.
Also in this neck of the woods is the popular Jarachik (all meals daily), though the recipes of its late Dutch owner, including burritos, curry, kebabs, and Asian dishes, are now spread out in restaurants all over town. Still, it makes for pleasant dining in a garden patio setting.
A popular addition to San Pedro’s culinary offerings is The Clover (7th Ave., 8:30 a.m.–midnight daily, $4–7), a restaurant and bar on a nice patio overlooking the lake serving good sandwiches and Pan-Asian inspired dishes such as scrumptious mango curry.
Across the way, Le Jardin des Saveurs (9 a.m.–9 p.m. Thurs.–Tues., $4–7) takes its inspiration from its French owners and offers a variety of tasty European-inspired dishes. Try the chicken in Dijon mustard sauce.
Heading up the street from the Santiago dock towards the town center you’ll find Bistro Nuevo Sol (www.bistronuevosol.com, 7 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 4–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat.). They have gourmet California-style pizzas, delicious calzones, tasty sandwiches (try the meatloaf sandwich), and fudge brownies for dessert. Movies are shown nightly at 7:30 p.m.
Last are a pair of offerings owned by the same couple. Housed in a bright red structure, Ventana Blue (7th Avenue, tel. 5284-2406 or 4050-0500, 6–10 p.m. Wed.–Sun.) prides itself on creative Asian/Guatemalan cuisine. Their scrumptious cashew chicken takes me back to Thailand.
Along the beach near the Mikaso Hotel, Café La Puerta (tel. 5098-1272, www.cafelapuerta.com) is the place to go for excellent homemade pasta.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com