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Kacao: fine typical dining in Guatemala city PDF Print

Kacao -- a unique dining experience
By Valeria Cerezo Mack
Looking for a taste of
Guatemala but you don’t want to go too far?

Look no more my friends, for there is this location in Zone 10 in Guatemala City that will gladly present you with a fair variety of typical dishes, some original and some fusion.

By fusion I mean the chef’s creativity grabs our best representative Guatemalan flavors and blends them into a delicious meal. 

Cacao beans

Cacao is the bean with which chocolate and cocoa are made. When America was discovered, cacao became one of the greatest discoveries as well.

The Mesoamerican inhabitants used cacao as a ritual beverage and as currency. It was one of the most valuable trade items for the old cultures. As a beverage, it was used spiced up with chiles, not sweet, as we know it now.

This beverage was reserved for the aristocracy, military chiefs and priests during the pre-Columbian times. Its value is mystic as well, since the story tells it was the god Quetzalcoatl who left it on earth as a gift for human kind. But let’s get back to the restaurant…


The environment is mystical yet refreshing …  a very large palapa serves as a main building, adorned with tall windows and curtains, infinite candles burning and melting into a lovely sculpture … wooden masks stare at you with wise eyes and a happy little cascade jeweled with fresh flowers sings a constant happy and melodious song. Is a quite nice mix of tropical with colonial style. Just like our country …

Staff dressed in typical Guatemalan costumes

The tables are covered with our dear embroidery: colorful birds, flowers, mayan symbols…    and the waiters, all bilingual, dress in typical garments from different regions of Guatemala.

What’s very special is that they are all male. I mention this since women had carried the traditional suit until now, but men had given it up in most of the country. So, visually, Kacao is a true delight.  It holds a nice blend of our most representative seals; but that’s only the beginning.

Actually, and I have to mention this, the oldest waiter speaks no more no less than 5 languages.


The menu has a wide variety of choices; from Mayan ceremonial dishes to sophisticated sauces, such as the anacates (yellow wild mushrooms) or green mango and coconut.

Wild anacates

So you don’t get lost, the menu includes a glossary of our native ingredients to help you make a better choice of what it is that your palate craves: sweet, sour, spicy…   

I highly recommend the steak with anacates or the chiltepe sauce; but if you are looking for something more …  typical?

Order the subanik, a Kak’ik or a jocon. 

Chicken in mango and coconut sauce
Anacates is a wild variety of mushroom that grows almost anywhere that is cool and humid. They are yellow and long, thin and vertical …   their consistency is firm and the flavor very definite; not strong, yet it elegantly stands out. 

Like a beautiful woman in a crowd, who is so naturally aware of her own beauty; she needs no cleavage and a loud laughter to be noticed; but not at all arrogant.

Even my 5 year old son loves them, they are alluring. A must have. In my humble opinion they should be served on their own and they blend in better with a rare beef steak in any case. 

Chiltepe beans

Chiltepe is my favorite chile.    it is hot, but will not burn. It has a very fresh flavor and a teasing approach to the palate. My friend Malena and I get together once in a while to share some chicharrones, beer and a home made chiltepe sauce when we are having the blues. I swear after a while it makes you suspiciously happy…  we call it the chiltepe rush.

Our taste buds are wildly stimulated and our mood very cheerful from the spicy, yet refreshing ride. You know how chocolate does that for you? (why do you think women like it so much!) chiltepe is the same, but in a spicy and tangy version. The chiltepe sauce on the steak is fantastic, uh, no wonder I’m so happily writing now …   I just had it. 

The green mango is also a very representative snack in Guatemala, and what Humberto Dominguez, the chef, did was turn it into an interesting sauce for a lean chicken breast steak, very Caribbean. 

Most people are used to the ripe juicy mango, but green, it has a tangy flavor. Their coconut and mango sauce is sort of sweet and sour. The dish comes garnished with mango cubes (from green to ripe) and rice, a great choice for those looking for something exotic. 

Exotic too, are the Loroco flowers, native of Guatemala; these small white and green flowers are very aromatic and of delicate yet distinctive flavor. Usually they are used with a white cream sauce and served over chicken, but here you will find it dressing shrimp as well.

Loroco flowers

Loroco is used a lot in tamalitos too and in fold over tortillas with fresh cheese…  yumm! My mouth is watering now… 

Now, moving to older dishes, Subanik is this lovely Kackchiquel nobility dish (soup/stew) made with roasted tomatoes and 3 or 4 varieties of chiles is a must have. It is not spicy though, you might have a spice hint on the background, but it will not show openly enough to burn.

It has pork, beef and chicken, bringing a quite interesting and humble blend of flavors that create a balanced and daring choreography.Now pepian, like I mentioned before, is declared a national patrimony. 

This 400 year old dish, a nice blend of native, Arab and Spanish influence dish has a more intrepid personality from its ingredients. If you want details go to Guatemalan typical dishes Part 2 Here.

Kak’ik is more of an original mayan dish. Its ingredients are 100% Guatemalan…  from the turkey to the base. Here in Kacao, it is not spicy; the chile cobanero (a red smoked pepper, a base ingredient) is served on the side for the people to add according to your spice tolerance; I have the bad habit of ordering the same dish over and over when I really like it, and that’s the case of this one.  

All the dishes at Kacao are served with lean meat…   no bones, no fat and no skin, yet the sauces and broths are prepared with the bones, which add nutritional value and great flavor. Even though they serve typical food, you will not find a hint of oil or fat floating around your dish, a major plus for me. Another detail I like is that your dish will show up with a fresh white flower on the side, a delightful touch…

Desserts are fantastic too! I recommend ordering “chancletas” or the “flan”, they will make you melt on your chair!  Chancletas are made of smashed “guisquil” ( a green pear shaped vegetable with a very delicate flavor, usually used in soups) mixed with breadcrumbs, cinnamon,  butter and raisins then baked in the oven in the vegetable’s skin.



Kacao is not just another restaurant in town though… presidents from around the world have had a delightful dinning experience here, along with many stars and showbiz personalities. Even then the prices remain fare.

A main dish may vary in between 120 and 170 Quetzales (worth every penny), and Antojitos and appetizers vary in between 25 to 100 Q’s. A nice meal for two including drinks will sum $40 - $50; romantic location is on the house. Sometimes is necessary to make a reservation in order to get a table, especially for dinner time.

Tortillas are served newly baked and steamy! Ingredients are fresh and healthy and the flavors, teasing. A perfect alternative to impress your in-laws and also a great choice for sampling our native dishes plus experiencing the ingenious blend from the chef’s immaculate taste!

Chef Humberto Dominguez
Humberto has had a very enriching culinary career since his youth; he also had his own tv show and has been stated Gastronomic Guatemalan ambassador for the World by Inguat, thanks to his vast knowledge on pre-Columbian cuisine and exceptional work. Talk about passion!

So, for a gourmet taste of Guatemala, good service and an exceptional atmosphere, I recommend Kacao! 2da avenida, 13-44, zona 10 

You can check out some pictures and info Here

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