The little shop filling the entranceway to Sabe Rico is a sweet place, in all senses of the word. It stocks specialty foods both packaged and homemade, including gluten-free products ranging from chocolates and granola to bread and pasta. The already impressive establishment is increasingly amazing as patrons walk deeper; the shop gives way to a courtyard, then two separate garden areas filled with lush greenery and charming shaded tables. The menu lists a delicious variety of dishes, and pleasant surprises like teas brewed from herbs grown organically just a few feet from your table... or, with luck, the pure white rabbit who was too cute to cook might pop out of the vegetation to lend a fanciful feel to your dining experience.
A small bookshop in the entrance of this well-known Antigua establishment stocks a good number of titles, and a gamut of seating arrangements provide the ideal spot to curl up with your new read or discuss it with new friends. To keep you fueled, the menu offers a variety of cuisines (including plenty of vegetarian food), such hummus and falafel, traditional breakfasts, and plentiful drink selections. Happy hour runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. every evening, with live music most nights and lectures about local history and environmental initiatives every Tuesday.
The biggest supermarket in town stretches for a full block - you can enter just east of the Mercado de Antigua, across the Alameda Santa Lucia, through the doorways on either the 4a or the 5a Calles. Space is tight, but choices are plentiful, with all kinds of packaged foods, dairy products, baked goods, alcohols, cell phones, and cosmetic products offered on just the ground floor. For produce, however, most Antigueños prefer to cross the street to seek out fresher options at the open air market.
Tienda Delicio, S.A., true to the word play in its name, offers a laundry list of delicious gourmet goods. Prepared sandwiches await suggestively near a case of beers, wines, and liquors, or the cheeses and dips make great accompaniments to their homemade baked goods. Pastas, meats, fish, and spices are welcome sights for those with access to a kitchen, and the deli even offers delivery... although, only two blocks from center, the location is conveniently accessible from most of Antigua.
Amongst the beautiful gardens of Antigua, Escalonia offers a particularly enchanting seating area. Tables are sheltered by umbrellas lit with strings of white lights in the evenings, or sit under a vine-filled arbor with flowers dangling overhead like living ornaments. The restaurant serves a menu focused on lovely desserts, coffee drinks, and breakfasts. The establishment is also a plant nursery, and customers can carry home a variety of floral, artisanal, and culinary souvenirs, as well as their memories of the time spent in this lush garden.
Passers-by peering through the open doorway of El Telar get a tantalizing glimpse of gorgeous tasseled hammocks, one example of the textile creations sold here. The artistry and quality of these products is impressive; each design is testament to months of work by hand. The emphasis of the merchandise is on home accessories, such as carpets, cushions, table cloths, and pillows.
This small, clean shop is staffed by experienced tattoo and piercing artists who make an indelible mark on many travelers' experiences of Guatemala. Relative to U.S. prices, tattoos are extremely affordable for their quality here - and the fact that the establishment has been in business since 1998 testifies to that quality. The shop in front carries some truly unique items, such as hand-carved jade plugs for gauged piercings, made by a local artist for the shop.
Travelers to Antigua are glad for El Cofre; this small establishment provides an astonishing amount of what they need. Coffee and fruit juices fuel internet catch-up on the row of computers or wireless internet, while travel guides and maps supply ideas for the next step. Meanwhile, the buy, sell, or trade bookstore offers plenty of good titles to enjoy during the invariable long waits that greet any traveler to Central America. Sin Fronteras, a venerable travel agency in Antigua, has one of its offices here as well.
The impressive market occupying a swathe of the western edge of Antigua is the place to go find whatever you need, particularly on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday, the big market days. Cross the Alameda Santa Lucia from any mid-town spot; the market's edges trickle imprecisely into the bus terminal, envelop the Mercado de Artesanias, and sprawl into the parking lots behind the covered stalls, out to the Avenida de la Recolección. By far the best place to look for fresh produce, the market also contains clusters of comedores or food stalls, bakeries, clothing, watches, CDs, craft supplies, cosmetics, meats, and the odd basket of live chickens.