I spent four months in La Antigua before I finally ventured to Mesón Panza Verde, one of the most renowned restaurants in La Antigua Guatemala. Yoga classes are what drew me… and I finally learned what the hype is all about. The restaurant/hotel is a stunning old house of brick, stone and fine wood. Plants seem to spill from the walls and ledges in various courtyards. Provoking art is scattered everywhere. Much of the art is created by the owner, yet the work of many other artists is often featured and displayed as well. At night, the dining room is lit in the glow of soft candlelight. The first night I dined there, my friend and I chose the table next to the floor-to-ceiling wine rack – imagining for a second it was all ours. Hehehe.
You can also dine in a stone “den” where live Cuban music is hosted on Friday nights. A long sliver of water shimmers in the rays of light that spill through openings in the stone “den” during the days. I tried escargot for the first time at Panza Verde. The butter sauce the juicy snails were smothered in was delicious. My favorite food that I’ve tried at Panza Verde, however, is the Camembert cheese with raspberry sauce. ¡Qué rico!
Follow a winding stone staircase laced in ivy in the front courtyard and you’ll find a charming terrace with hammocks, a small little art gallery beneath the traditional colonial cupola. Wander on and discover another, larger room that serves as yet another place to display art as well as the yoga studio. In this room, you’ll also delight in a great view of another Panza courtyard below. Venture up yet another staircase – this one iron – to find yet another terrace that places you at eye-level with the rooftops, everything still adorned in lush green plants and bright colorful flowers. Continuing on, over a little rooftop “bridge,” you can rest on one of several stone benches, carved in ornate decoration.
text and photos by Laura McNamara
© 2009 – 2013, Laura McNamara. All rights reserved.