Top 14 Best Traditional Dishes of Guatemala You Need To Try

One thing that made me fall in love with Guatemala besides its natural beauty was its food! I lived in Guatemala for more than 20 years and despite being a vegan I tried most of the traditional dishes of Guatemala, as well as the popular and street food. That’s why I know exactly what you should try and what now

Guatemalan foods combine the Mayan and Spanish cultures, and in some places Caribbean and Creole! The backbone of the cuisine of the country is the corn and the tortilla, and you will find a lot of dishes around this.

While Guatemala is not a huge country, it does have very distinct regions with different types of foods. You can get these dishes pretty much anywhere throughout Guatemala, especially in Guatemalan restaurants, but it’s cool to go and visit right where they originated from.

Traditional Dishes of Guatemala


The most typical food in Guatemala is tortillas, which you will find everywhere in the country. Tortillas are everywhere and you can go and find a lot of different tortillas shops where they make the tortillas right there in front of you.

It’s made from corn flour, which is the real Guatemalan tortilla, and it is made on a comal, which is this kind of oven. Sometimes you’ll see it says Tres Tiempos (three times), which is three times per day that you could buy fresh tortillas.

Depending on where you are in Guatemala you could get between three to five tortillas for less than $0.10 because it is a staple, it is a necessity.

Also, you can find it a lot as a typical Guatemalan street food, and a lot of times you’ll even see people eating without forks, using tortillas to wipe up the food.

a family sitting around a table at el comalote restaurant in guatemala
El Comalote is one of my family’s and my favorite restaurants, the perfect place to learn more about tortillas and Guatemalan foods.

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Black Beans

The other most basic food is beans, back beans especially, they’re usually whole beans or you could find refried beans. You will find those in many dishes and many local eateries, which are called comedores and is the place to go if you want true local food.

The beans are usually sold with rice, which is another staple in the country and you can find it pretty much everywhere where you could think of.

However, that is not the only thing that you could have, many times black beans are served with tortillas, cheese, and other foods. My favorite is refried beans, and I totally recommend you get that.

black beans
Black beans can be found in several local eateries and each place makes it unique, but something my kids and I agree on is that refried beans are the best ones!


The most unique and pretty countrywide dish is called pepian, many foodies around the world know the country thanks to this dish.

Pepian is a stew, it is a thick red sauce stew with tomatoes, garlic, and red peppers. Obviously, it is with meat or chicken, but today you can find a lot of vegetarian options.

My family and I agree that this is hands down the best and most popular Guatemalan food. You could easily find it anywhere you go, but it’s native to the department of Quetzaltenango.

It is normally served with rice and corn tortillas, Guatemala’s staple food.

guatemala pepian
Pepian can be found in several restaurants, and local eateries and is a favorite in Guatemalan homes, a true traditional dish.


The Garifuna culture in Livingstone has a very popular seafood dish called Tapado, which is a seafood coconut soup, but it has absolutely everything in it.

So you want to check that out if you are visiting Guatemala. Visiting Livingston is a cool adventure, and is a place many tourists miss checking out. I visited it several times with my family and it was always a good adventure.


In another region right in the center of the country, Coban, in the Alta Verapaz area, there is a very popular dish called kak’ik, which is actually from the Mayan language itself.

It is a turkey stew-type dish, basically, and it is really interesting. It is mainly found in that particular area, around Coban, the center of Guatemala, in the Verapaz area.

Kak’ik with rice antigua guatemala
Kak’ik is a complex dish that dates back to ages ago, it’s an actual Mayan dish and even its name represents it.


Tamales are a huge thing, mainly throughout Central America, but in Guatemala even more. I personally have lived in many parts of Central America and have been able to taste different Tamales all over Central America, and I have to say Guatemalan Tamales are by far the most delicious.

They are mainly most popularly served during Christmas time. First of all, the tamales are super tasty and rich in flavor. The difference with the Tamales here is that they have these yummy sauces in different colors and flavors.

A lot of the Tamales are made with pork, but today you can find chicken and even vegetarian.

Here’s a cool thing about Tamales in Guatemala that I love. You could find them going to little villages and you’ll see sometimes, depending on the day, red lights above different houses, which means they are selling fresh homemade tamales. If you go to these homes where they make them homemade, you could see them in these huge pots and they are wrapped up in banana leaves.

toppins and sauces traditional guatemala food
One of my favorite things about Tamales is the sources they are served with, I highly recommend trying them, and if you can visit a local shop even better!

Atole de Elote

A really popular Guatemalan drink is Atole de Elote. It’s more of a thick soup that is made from corn. It is flavorful and I recommend it. It’s a hearty drink, my kids used to drink it a lot while growing up since it’s packed with all kinds of vitamins.

Guatemalan women are used to giving atol to their kids and say it’s one of the most nutritious drinks in the country.

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Rellenitos are mainly done with chilis, and sweet red peppers. The red peppers are filled with meat and red sauce, simple but delicious and while it’s mainly meat you can still find several places that offer you this dish in a vegan style.

Relleno means filled, and what it is filled with, could be meat and different veggies, and it’s covered with tomato sauce but it’s also common to find different sources.

You can find rellenitos pretty much anywhere as well, which makes it a really interesting thing for you to try.

Every single person I took to try Rellenitos instantly loved them, since they are mostly meat I didn’t get them as much but you can still find them in a vegan style.


Fiambre is only served on the day of the dead, which is November first and you could find it pretty much anywhere in the country during that time. This is also the day that Guatemalans have a really big family celebration and Fiambre is commonly served.

Fiambre has a lot of different pickled foods, eggs, veggies, and meat as well as several other ingredients, it’s really difficult to explain, but if you are here on November 1, you need to try it.

You can find vegetarian options, but mainly it is different meats and pastrami and salamis, but it has all these different pickled veggies as well.

One of the most popular and interesting things in Guatemala is the Day of the Dead, which is mainly celebrated in Mexico, but Guatemala has its own very unique version of it, this kite festival. It’s incredible.

Fiambre is a dish packed with meats, salamis, pastrami and cheese but also, a lot of different pickled veggies that I enjoyed eating a lot.


You cannot forget the chocolate. Mayans at one point even used the cocoa bean as money or currency. That’s how incredible and important it was at one point, and the chocolate is made in such a unique way it’s totally different from the chocolate that you are used to in Europe.

One of my favorite places to go when it comes to chocolate is the CochoMuseo in Antigua, but you could buy it pretty much everywhere.

The most popular thing to do with the chocolate here is not just to eat it in a bar, but to make hot chocolate with it. That is something that my kids love the most and something you need to also try.

kid drinking guatemalan hot chocolate
Whether it’s a bar or a hot chocolate drink, my kids loved them all, and if you can I highly recommend you do a coffee and cacao plantation tour!


Make sure to have Guatemalan coffee because Guatemala is world-known for its coffee. Today you can find really amazing, delicious, true Guatemalan coffee almost everywhere in the world.

Of course, nothing like trying it in the country itself, my favorite place to go for authentic Guatemalan coffee and excellent brews was La Vid Coffee Roasters in Antigua but I’m pretty sure most coffee shops will serve good local coffee.

If you want something more familiar you’ll find McDonalds and even Starbucks in Antigua, but if you want to try a local chain make sure to visit Cafe Barista.


Jocon is basically pieces of chicken in a green sauce. This is a delicious dish native to the department of Huehuetenango.

jocon guatemala


Piloyada is a salad that involves red beans, and meat. It is commonly eaten during the Easter season but in Antigua Guatemala, where it is native, you can find it all year round.

This salad is often eaten wrapped in a corn tortilla or with toasted bread.


Another one I kind of like a lot, you can find pupusas everywhere, but pupusas are more of an El Salvadorian dish.

However, because they are neighbors and there are a lot of El Salvadorians living in Guatemala, you can find delicious pupusas as well.

Basically, what a pupusa is, it’s a tortilla with different fillings in it and then they use cabbage and red sauce to put on top.

Baleadas are my family and my Guatemalan food to go, you can’t go wrong with it. A delicious, easy-to-eat dish that’s affordable and you can find pretty much everywhere.


These are just the highlights of some of the most popular foods in Guatemala, make sure to grab a Cerveza Gallo and enjoy!

The greatest part about all of it? The majority of these foods are super affordable. You can eat a humongous meal for less than five dollars to eight dollars, depending on where you go.

So if you are visiting Guatemala, give some of these foods a try because this is the essence of Guatemala.

woman eating food in guatemala

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Guatemala has a huge variety of food, check out the guide to the top 15 Guatemalan Food and Dishes.

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Last Updated on May 24, 2024

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