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Vegetarian snacks in Xela

By Greg Haynes

As soon as you step off the plane, panic sets in; the whole country appears to live on meat. While your host family tears into their chicken dinner, you force down bites of rice and tortilla, resigning yourself to a slow death by starvation. But take heart, gentle soul, vegetarian food options abound here in Xela. These are a few of my favorites, organized into four price categories: Q25-50, Q15, Q5, and Q2, thereby accommodating even the most tight-fisted of travelers.

In the first category try Sabor de la India (Callejon 15, off 2a Calle). My favorite is the Vegetarian Tali, which features a portion of every veggie dish they make. Another good bet is the Royal Paris (14a Avenida 3-06). Their vegetarian lasagna is delicious and filling. Finally, Café Q (Diagonal 12 at 6th Calle) is a completely vegetarian restaurant which features a dynamite vegetable curry with homemade chapati.

In the second category, Café Danés (on 15th Avenida and 6th Calle) serves an adequate veggie plate of soup, rice, beans, assorted vegetables-of-the-day, and a refresco, with as many tortillas as you can eat. A similar deal can be found at Restaurante Mike in the first food court south of the Cathedral. Talk to the cook before you order to confirm the contents of your meal.

In the third price category, you can get a filling dish of rice, beans, and unlimited tortillas at Comedor Rosario (in the lower food court south of the cathedral and the amphitheater) for a mere Q5. At Tienda Leon (opposite Casa Argentina on Diagonal 11) you get excellent tostadas for Q1 each. Choose from several toppings: soy (the best), refried beans, beets (surprisingly good), and grated radish or cabbage.

But if your only source of income is pretending to be blind, begging with your eyes closed in Parque Central, then pick up eight tamalitos for Q2 at the tortilleria opposite Las Flores market (8th Calle 16-25) or get two delicious and filling glasses of atol de elote, a nutritious, traditional corn drink, from Doña Margarita inside the Las Flores market. At Q1.25 each, this simple meal works great as a midmorning snack. In a pinch, it will keep you just this side of starvation for the whole day.

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