Your mouth will water as soon as you set foot inside Casa Babylon (corner of 5a Calle and 13 Avenida, tel. 7761-2320, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily); its ground-floor kitchen exudes the aroma of delicious meals being prepared. On offer are a variety of cocktails, a decent wine list, and nonalcoholic beverages, including fresh-fruit smoothies.
Menu items include falafel, salads, tacos, quesadillas, burgers, pita pizzas, pastas, and vegetarian dishes. There are two more floors, including a nice third-floor lounge; you should call ahead and reserve on weekends, as it tends to get busy during dinner hours.
El Árabe (4a Calle 12-22 Zona 1, tel. 7761-7889, noon–midnight daily, $4–10) serves delicious Middle Eastern fare, including fresh hummus and tasty falafel. It’s conveniently situated just off the plaza and can also be a lively place at night.
Still going strong thanks to its Indian chef, Sabor de la India (2a Calle between 16 Avenida and 15 Avenida “A,” tel. 7765-0101, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 5–9 p.m. Sun., $2–7) serves delicious vegetarian and nonvegetarian Indian dishes in generous portions.
Xela boasts an excellent Tex-Mex restaurant in
Dos Tejanos (4a Calle 12-33, Pasaje Enríquez, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily), where you can dig into authentic Texas barbecue ribs, chicken, and brisket.
For authentic Italian food in a wonderful Old World family atmosphere, head to Restaurante Cardinali (14 Avenida 3-25 Zona 1, tel. 7761-0922, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. daily). There’s a large wine selection and various entrées in the $9 range.
Giuseppe’s Gourmet Pizza (15 Avenida 3-68 Zona 1, Edificio Santa Rita Segundo Nivel, tel. 7761-2521 or 7761-9439, 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.) has fairly decent hand-tossed pizza and pastas.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com