Licuado Culture

Licuado Culture

Sweet. Refreshing. Natural. Licuados are one of those treats that truly define a Guatemalan experience. The blended fruit drinks can be found most anywhere in La Antigua from fancy restaurants to local, hole-in-the-wall comedors… and I absolutely LOVE them. They are nothing more than fruit blended with your choice of water, milk, yogurt and, sometimes, orange juice. Often, sugar is added but I always ask for mine to come “sin azucar.” Usually fruit here in Guate is so perfectly ripe (as you can see from the pics) that any added sweetner would be too much… at least for me. So what is it, exactly, that makes licuados so addictive?

The idea of what are essentially smoothies is certainly nothing new to me, a U.S.-native. But, where I’m from in the Midwest, they just aren’t so prevalent. Here, in Guate, there is truly a licuado culture, a licuado craze even. It’s just as common to suggest to a friend to “let’s go grab a licuado” as it is to suggest meeting for a coffee. And this licuado culture has taught me to be more creative with my own smoothie concoctions. Never had I heard using papaya, honeydew or watermelon in a blended drink before coming to Central America… and now those are my top three favorites. Just the other day, the woman whom I rented a room from threw starfruit mixed with orange in her own, homemade version. It tasted quite “rico” as well.

It’s safe to say I’m addicted to these treats. I used to go hunker down to work online at Rainbow Café just so I could sip on a papaya-yogurt licuado while tackling my “to-do list.” It didn’t take me long to find the cheapest licuados in town though. At the market, you can usually order a licuado with water for Q7. At El Merendor it will cost you Q8. Looking for a spot more “oriente” go to Cookies where a licuado with water also costs Q7. Just add a quetzal or two for anything blended with milk or yogurt. Anywhere else, licuados usually cost around Q15 to Q20.

text and photos by Laura McNamara

< Market Pick-Me-Up Guatemalan Tropical Fruits

© 2009 – 2014, Laura McNamara. All rights reserved.

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  • Cindee

    Licuados are common everywhere in Central America to be sure. The women are so creative too when fruit is scarce, they come up with other items to mix up for a drink.

    “Often, sugar is added but I always ask for mine to come ‘sin azucar.'” I know they must have thought you very strange for asking for no sugar!I tried it once. Never again!

    I lived in Nicaragua for 2 years. Worse one I ever had was made up of ginger!!! ¡Fuego!

    Great photo.

    • There is a licuado offered at Johnny’s Place at the beach in Monterrico called La Mamacita. It has watermelon, ginger and lemon. It’s actually quite good!

  • Manolo

    It reminds me of finding a yogen fruz stand on a mall in La Capital and having mine with pithaya (dragon fruit), only in Guate you can have these type of fruit and mix them up for an affordable prize. I just had a smoothie on a market in Montreal, good varied fruit, but you needed to pay 5$ (CDN) for the treat. Not as thick as a licuado either.

    • Ah yeah dragon fruit… another good one. And yeah Q7,8 (about a $1) definitely beats the $3-$6 it can cost in the States! (Or Canada in your case…)

  • sheila

    I love licuados, my favorite is papaya. I love your papaya pic, it’s delicious.

    • I think papaya was made specifically for licuados 😉

  • Lisa

    The first thing I always do when I arrive in Antigua is find a place to enjoy a licuado. Sandia is my favorite but looking at your photo makes me want to order papaya – sin leche, sin azucar…

    • Sandia (watermelon) is particularly refreshing on hot days!

  • MO

    I mostly make my licuados with milk, bananas (main fruit ingridient), a few strawberries or blueberries and mix them with a licuadora. Mine always come out with little air bubbles on top and I need to let the licuado settle for a few minutes before I can drink it. Am I licuando the licuado too much? or is this because I’m using a blender instead of a smoothie machine? or does this happen to all licuados made with milk?

    • @MO, this is exactly how we do our licuados almost every morning. I think you get the foam because of the milk. We like the foam though, we don’t wait for the foam to settled. 🙂

    • I agree with Rudy… I like the foam! When I was in Barcelona the Noni berry was a favorite ingredient of the smoothies I bought there.

  • Ohhh the licuados are amazing.. I noticed the craze you are talking about when I took a short weekend trip to the city and decided to go for a licuado because it was sooo hot.. only to find like 15 persons in line to get one.. so worth it and healthy 😀

  • Eric


    Sorry, that’s all I have to say. Saludos !

  • Pingback: Wildlife, Soccer and Sunken Ships at Monterrico()

  • Nice pic of the Rambutan. I didn’t know those were available outside Southeast Asia.