A profusion of new cafés has appeared in Guatemala City ’s downtown area, providing further evidence of the resurgence of the city’s downtown core. Among these is Café del Centro Histórico (6a Avenida 9-50 Zona 1, all meals daily), well situated on the second floor of a restored 1930s building. Old photographs and original tiles hark back to the golden age of Sexta Avenida. Inexpensive meals, including Guatemalan staples such as tortillas con carne, salads, pies, and excellent coffee are served.
Also downtown is Café de Imeri (6a Calle 3-30 Zona 1, tel. 2232-9008), which enjoys a loyal following owed to its delightful old-fashioned atmosphere and efficiently elegant service. The cakes and baked goods are top-notch, and there are good breakfasts, tacos, pasta, and salads. It makes a great place for lunch with a set menu for $3.50.
4 Grados Norte also has some pleasant sidewalk cafés, including Café Saúl (Ruta 2, 4 Grados Norte, tel. 2379-8721, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–midnight Fri./Sat., 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun., $4–8), serving delicious sweet and salty crepes, ice cream, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and coffee in an eclectic atmosphere with chill music. Beer and wine are also served.
Caffé dei Fiori (15 Avenida 15-66 Zona 10, tel. 2363-5888, www.caffedeifiori.com , $3–8) has been around since the 1970’s in three different Zona 10 locations. Its current incarnation features a pleasant covered patio where breakfasts, pizzas, pastas, salads, and sandwiches are served. Desserts include delicious tiramisu and empanadas de piña. Great espresso drinks round out the meal.
For healthy vegetarian fare, check out Restaurante Rey Sol (11 Calle 5-51 Zona 1, 8 a.m.– 5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $4–8) serving tasty spinach lasagnas, whole-wheat bread sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. It also sells soy milk, granola, and herbal teas.
Popular with Guatemalans, San Martin and Company (13 Calle 1-62 Zona 10, 6 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) is a bakery and café with pleasant outdoor seating on a terrace or ceiling fan–cooled dining room inside. There are scrumptious croissant sandwiches for breakfast as well as a variety of sandwiches, salads, and soups for lunch and dinner in the $3–5 range. There are other locations, including a very attractive setting at Oakland Mall.
Chocolate lovers will find bliss at Xocoli (4a Avenida 15-53 Zona 10, tel. 2366-6008, www.xocoli.com ). The Maya world is, after all, the birthplace of chocolate, dating back to the use of cacao beans as currency in Maya times.