Bruno’s Hotel and Marina (tel. 7930-5175, www.mayaparadise.com, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) is especially popular with boaters for its varied menu of international dishes and snacks in the $5–10 range as well as its TV news and sports in an open-air dining room right by the water. There are pancakes, omelets, and hash browns for breakfast; burgers and ribs for lunch and dinner.
Just up the street, Restaurante Río Bravo (tel. 7930-5167, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) serves a similar menu, including good seafood, pasta dishes, and pizzas ($11) on an open-air deck over the water. There’s a full bar and it’s a popular place for meeting fellow travelers.
Along the same side street, Sundog Café (tel. 5529-0829, $3–6) has delicious hot sandwiches, including an avocado melt, baguettes, and pastrami sandwiches. There’s a 5:20 happy hour and it is the local booking agent for sailing trips aboard “That,” a 62-foot trimaran.
Just west of the bridge at Marina Xalaja and serving authentic Mexican food is Las Mexicanas (tel. 5726-5043, noon–8 p.m. daily, $5–8), which has quickly become a town favorite thanks to the culinary prowess of the Mexican sisters who run it.
Whether or not you’re staying at Hacienda Tijax (tel. 7930-5505/6/7, VHF channel 09, www.tijax.com), it makes a great place to eat for its rugged jungle ambience and delicious sandwiches, seafood, salads, pasta, and steak dishes in the $5–13 range served in an airy high-ceilinged palapa structure. It brews excellent coffee and has a full bar.
Farther out this way, about two kilometers downstream from Río Dulce, is Mario’s Marina (tel. 7930-5569/70, www.mariosmarina.com), which has a restaurant/bar that is popular with the sailing crowd and serving a variety of seafood and international dishes. Bar patrons can browse the book exchange or enjoy a game of darts.
West from the Río Dulce bridge toward the Castillo de San Felipe, the restaurant at Tortugal (tel. 5306-6432 or 7742-8847, VHF channel 68, www.tortugal.com, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.) is worth a stop for its deliciously prepared, creative menu options and superb location right on the water away from the noise and traffic closer to town. Prepared using fresh ingredients, the menu includes a harmonious blending of authentic Guatemalan cuisine with American and European flourishes. Dinner options range $5–12 for items varying from a quarter-pound barbecue burger to seafood stew. It’s also a great place for breakfast ($2.50–6) or lunch ($4–6). The bar here serves some excellent cocktails that you can enjoy along with the gorgeous jungle river scenery. There’s always something on special for $2.50, served in a large cocktail glass.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com