With a long tradition of excellence, Welten (4a Calle Oriente #21, tel. 7832-0630, www.weltenrestaurant.com , noon–10 p.m. Mon.–Sun. and Wed.–Thurs., until 11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $13–22) is one of Antigua ’s well-established dining options serving an impressive menu of gourmet Guatemalan, French, and Italian specialties in an elegant atmosphere. Menu highlights include creamy peppered steak (filet au poivre), seafood fettuccine, and fish fillet in a traditional salsa. There are delicious homemade ice creams for dessert.
Mesón Panza Verde (5a Avenida Sur #19, tel. 7832-2925, www.panzaverde.com , lunch and dinner Tues.–Sat., brunch and lunch Sun., $10–20) is easily one of Guatemala’s finest restaurants thanks to the culinary prowess of its Swiss-born, French-trained chef, Cristophe Pache, and its sophisticated European ambience. The mostly French cuisine is heavy on meat and fish dishes. The wine list is impressive, as are the desserts. A Sunday brunch is served 10 a.m.–1 p.m. You can enjoy your meal in the main dining room surrounded by fine art under a vaulted ceiling or al fresco in La Cueva, a covered patio beneath baroque arches beside a fountain. Chacun à son goût.
On par with the exclusive digs in this landmark Antigua hotel, the restaurant at Casa Santo Domingo (3a Calle Oriente #28, tel. 7832-0140, www.casasantodomingo.com.gt , $15–25) serves delicious Guatemalan and international fare in the restored ruins of an old monastery. It makes a great spot for a romantic candlelit dinner, though I’ve heard the service can be spotty.
The town’s most authentic hotel restaurant can be found at Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo (5a Avenida Norte #17, tel. 7832-0291, all meals daily), which is popular with Guatemalans who come here for its stellar service, wonderful ambience overlooking the hotel gardens and consistently delicious Guatemalan and international cuisine. The tortillas are made fresh on the premises and you can watch the dough being patted and placed on the comal, where they are cooked over a fire. There is sometimes live marimba music to complete the authentic Guatemalan feel.
Nicolas (4a Calle Oriente #20, tel. 7832-0471, www.nicolas.com.gt , 12:30–3 p.m. Fri.–Sun., 7–10 p.m. daily except Wed.) is a relative newcomer to Antigua’s fine-dining scene, but it has already made a name for itself with its Norwegian chef. The atmosphere is modern and the menu includes an interesting array of Asian fusion dishes, seafood, and meats.
A longtime favorite is El Sereno (4a Avenida Norte #16, tel. 7832-0501, www.elsereno.com.gt , lunch and dinner daily). The restaurant dates to 1980, but the wonderfully old colonial building in which it’s housed dates to the 16th century and once housed the Spanish priests who built La Merced church. You can dine on gourmet international dishes in the elegant main dining room, in a romantic cavelike candlelit room, or al fresco either in a delightful covered garden patio or on the rooftop terrace.
A wonderful addition to Antigua ’s restaurant scene is Tartines (4a Calle Oriente #1C, tel. 7882-4606/7, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Tues.–Wed., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Thurs.–Sat, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., $5–20). On the menu you’ll find crepes, paninis, pasta, and a very tasty duck. Enjoy your meal from the rooftop patio overlooking the ruins of the Catedral de Santiago.
Last but certainly not least of the fine dining options is Bistrot Cinq (4a Calle Oriente #7, tel. 7832-5510, www.bistrotcinq.com , 6–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–11 p.m. Sat.–Sun., $5–15). The emphasis is on French cuisine; dishes include chicken scaloppine and trout Armandine, but with take-out or delivery items such as scrumptious half-pound burgers and steak frites also on the menu. The bar is top-notch.