A Guide to Traditional Street Food in Guatemala
Food plays a big part in Antigua’s Semana Santa celebrations, particularly food made and sold by locals for religious processions and holy vigils. You’ll see señoras doling out sweet and savory items from blanket-lined wicker baskets, grills set up in the streets, and vendors selling colorful candy. To learn more about the Semana Santa edibles on offer, we checked in with Juan Carlos Orellana, owner of the Antigua restaurant Saberico and Viaventure’s street food tour guide. Here’s what he had to say:
“Semana Santa’s all about comida típica [or traditional food]. That’s what you see locals selling in front of church plazas and in parks. It’s the food that people are used to eating this time of year, and the food that people prefer—even restaurants know this and expect a lull. The best place to find comida típica is during the evening velaciones [holy vigils] that take place in churches located in and around Antigua. Food vendors rent space outside of the church, and after people check out the holy vigil, they gather around the food stalls to eat. It gets pretty festive. San Bartolomé Becerra is one of the best velaciones, because it has the most vendors. People come all the way from Guatemala City to eat there. Another good spot for velacione food is La Merced church.”
Wondering what sweet and savory edibles you’ll find? Here’s a round-up of common Semana Santa foods, according to Juan Carlos:
- Tostadas. Toasted corn tortillas spread with guacamole, black beans, and/or a mild tomato sauce, and then sprinkled with cheese and parsley.
- Enchiladas. Toasted corn tortillas topped with a leaf of romaine lettuce, pickled beets, a mixture of minced meat and vegetables, a mild tomato sauce, chili sauce, cheese, and slices of onion and hard-boiled egg.
- Dobladas. A savory turnover that’s filled with anything from beef to cabbage to cheese to chicharrones, and then fried.
- Tacos. Corn tortillas that are rolled up with a filling of beef, pork, chicken, or vegetables, and then fried.
- Chuchitos. A Guatemalan tamale; corn dough that’s stuffed with meat and a mild tomato sauce, and then steamed in corn husks.
- Atols. Thick, hot drinks that can be made from corn meal, rice, milk, chocolate, corn kernels, and more.
- Chiles rellenos. Bell or jalapeño peppers stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, carrots, green beans, and spices, and then covered in an egg batter and fried.
- Elotes locos. Boiled corn smothered in mayonnaise, sprinkled with cheese, and drizzled with mustard and ketchup.
- Empanada de manjar. A sweet turnover filled with milk custard.
- Rellenitos. Plantain dough that’s stuffed with black beans, fried, and sprinkled with sugar.
- Mole de platano. Fried plantains served in a sweet, chocolate-infused mole sauce.
- Chupetes. Small, triangular hard candies (similar to lollipops).
- Algodones. Cotton candy. Yes, it’s considered traditional.