Vegan Food in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela (pronounced: shay-lah) is a cute town in Guatemala located about 4 hours away from the capital of Guatemala City. Unfortunately, there have been some restaurant closures over the past few years, leaving very few vegan or vegetarian restaurants in Quetzaltenango. Don’t worry though fam! I’m here to help you keep your belly full of bomb vegan food during your stay in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Don’t speak Spanish? I got you! Below, I’ve listed some common Spanish words and phrases that I used while ordering vegan food in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. It’s not comprehensive, but it should be enough to do the trick!
Spanish Words & Phrases Every Vegan Should Know
Language barriers can make it tough to order as a vegan. I got you though! Spanish is the most commonly spoken language throughout the country, so I’ve translated some common words and phrases that we use as vegans while ordering.
Foods To Avoid
Below are some of the common foods that we avoid as vegans. It is not comprehensive, but knowing these words and phrases has served me well during my years of traveling throughout Central and South America.
- Caldo de pollo – Chicken broth (substitute “pollo” with the food of concern based on the list below)
- Camarones – shrimp
- Carne – meat
- Cerdo – pork
- Crema – cream
- Huevos – eggs
- Leche – milk
- Manteca – lard
- Mantequilla – butter
- Note that “maní” means “peanut”, so “mantequilla de maní” means “peanut butter”
- Mariscos – seafood
- Pescado – fish
- Pollo – chicken
- Queso – cheese
Foods That We Can Eat
Below are some of the common foods that we can eat as vegans. It is not comprehensive, but knowing these words and phrases has served me well during my years of traveling throughout Central and South America. As always, be sure to check if any of these items are cooked with animal products, especially beans and rice.
- Aceitunas – olives
- Aguacate – avocado
- Ajo – garlic
- Arroz – rice
- Aubergine/berenjena – eggplant
- Calabaza – pumpkin
- Cebolla – onion
- Champiñónes/hongos – mushrooms
- Fresas – strawberries
- Frijoles – beans
- Fruta – fruit
- Lechuga – lettuce
- Lentejas – lentils
- Papas / patatas – potatoes
- Pepino – cucumber
- Plantanos – plantains
- Semillas – seeds
- Tomate – tomato
- Vegetales/verduras – vegetables
- Zanahorias – carrots
I have encountered extremely helpful and kind waiters during my time traveling throughout Guatemala. Be sure to reciprocate the kindness of the country by using polite phrases when you order.
- Me gustaría…
- I would like…
- Muchas gracias
- Thank you so much
- Podría traerme…
- Could you bring me…
- Por favor
Stating That You Are Vegan Or Vegetarian
Sometimes, all that you have to do is let them know that you are vegan or vegetarian, and they’ve got you from there!
- Soy vegana/o
- I am vegan
- Somos veganas/os
- We are vegan
- No como/comemos leche, carne, pollo, cerdo, huevos ni queso. Nada de animales.
- I don’t/we don’t eat milk, meat, chicken, pork, eggs, or cheese. Nothing from animals.
- Soy vegetariana/o
- I am vegetarian
- Somos vegetarianas/os
- We are vegetarian
- No como/comemos carne, pollo, ni cerdo. No animales.
- I don’t/we don’t eat meat, chicken, or pork. No animals.
Below are some common questions that you may want to ask when dining at a non-vegan restaurant.
- Hay manteca en esto?
- Is there lard in this? (substitute “manteca” with the food of concern, based on the list above)
- Puedo tener aguacate en lugar de huevos?
- Can I have avocado instead of eggs? (substitute “aguacate” and “huevos” with the food of concern, based on the list above)
- Hay opciones veganas?
- Are there vegan options?
- Es esto vegano?
- Is this vegan?
- Hay opciones vegetarianas?
- Are there vegetarian options?
- Es esto vegetariano?
- Is this vegetarian?
- Podría cocinar eso sin huevos?
- Could you cook that without eggs? (substitute “huevos” with the food of concern, based on the list above)
Guatemalan Foods That Are Often Vegan
A typical meal in Guatemala may consist of some combination of handmade corn tortillas, beans, rice, plantains, eggs, and cheese or cream. Once you omit the eggs, cheese, and cream, the remaining items are often vegan. Be sure to confirm that no animal-based broth or lard was used to make the beans and rice.
Vegan Restaurant in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
Punto Vegano – Vegan
Location: 7 calle 13-21, Quezaltenango, Guatemala
Punto Vegano was the only vegan restaurant that I managed to find in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and it also just so happened to be a 5-minute walk away from my Spanish school and homestay! Their food is extremely affordable for anyone that is used to paying for food in America. I’ve easily had a full hearty meal there for less than $5 USD!
They don’t have a website at the moment and their menu changes daily, so you’ll just have to show up and see what they’ve whipped up for the day!
Vegetarian Restaurant in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
Xela Green – Vegetarian
Location: 14 Avenida 3-39, Quezaltenango, Guatemala
I found out a little too late that Xela Green was my favorite spot to grab vegan food in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. This sandwich hit in all the right ways, so let me go on ‘head and break it down for you.
The bread was perfectly toasted and lightly crispy on the outside. The seitan was seasoned to perfection and just moist enough to be juicy and tender without making the sandwich soggy.
Then the spicy green sauce paired with the onions, red peppers, lettuce, tomato, and hummus… it was a wrap! It’s probably for the best that I discovered this place during my last day in town because I surely would have eaten here every day otherwise!
Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
Sabor de la India – Vegan-friendly
Location: 15 Avenida, Quezaltenango, Guatemala
Sabor de la India is THEE spot for vegan Indian food in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala! They don’t have many options on their menu and they are a bit pricey for Xela, but they have large portions that make for great leftovers.
The staff is super knowledgeable about what their vegan options are, so don’t be shy! Practice your Spanish a little bit and let them know that you are vegan!
Mandarina – Vegan-friendly
Location: 7 calle 13-21, Quezaltenango, Guatemala
Mandarina is a vegan-friendly restaurant in Xela that has a vegan option for everything from beverages down to baked goods.
Don’t be fooled by how the scrambled tofu looks. I usually shy away from scrambled tofu because if it isn’t seasoned well, you might as well throw the whole plate away. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the tofu AND the mushrooms, which were both well seasoned!
Conclusion: Vegan Food in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
While there might not be a plethora of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, don’t sleep on it! It’s a beautiful city filled to the brim with lots of history, culture, and amazing people.
Be sure to brush up on your Spanish or have my guide of Spanish words and phrases handy, because you’ll likely need it! If you’ll be visiting other cities in Guatemala, be sure to check out my other vegan Guatemalan posts: Vegan Food in Guatemala City, Vegan Food in Antigua, Guatemala, Best Vegan Food in Guatemala