Il Giardino

4.00 (1 review)
San Marcos La Laguna, Sololá Department, Guatemala
Unnamed Road San Marcos La Laguna Sololá GT
4902 59154902 5915

Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant

Great Vegetarian choice

Il Giardino

Review by Julia, Food Critic

13 March 2016

San Marcos La Laguna – If you’re looking for a good vegetarian breakfast spot in San Marcos, look no further than Il Giardino Bistro Cafè. The menus outside the gate list both “Super Foods” and “Super Juices,” but it was the menu board inside boasting a vegetarian breakfast burrito that caught my attention.

The restaurant is set in a secluded area just off the busy public path. Entering the plush tropical gardens of Il Giadino I noticed the soft, relaxing music in the background, which is exactly as restaurant music should be. My companion and I were promptly greeted by the proprietor, Mark, a pleasant fellow from the UK who took over the restaurant a few years ago. We sat down at a small table on the patio to take advantage of the lovely weather and enjoy our breakfast al fresco. There are three additional covered seating areas; one a cozy, private alcove that could seat up to six people, one sofa-style area set under a palapa roof for up to four guests, and more patio seating near the kitchen. Several patrons were sipping coffee or leisurely reading and the balanced mix of relaxing music, green gardens, and local Mayan décor made for a very tranquil atmosphere.

The menu was extensive with a variety tempting breakfast dishes including the aforementioned burrito, eggs Florentine/Benedict, and a number of other vegetarian choices. I went for the burrito (40Q) and ginger tea (12Q), and my friend decided on the eggs Florentine (35Q) with coffee (12Q). Less than 10 minutes after our beverages arrived we were served breakfast…together! If you’ve ever eaten at any of the local restaurants around Lake Atitilán you’ll quickly learn that just because you’ve been served your meal that doesn’t mean that any of your five companions should expect to be served anytime soon.

My burrito consisted of a large flour wrap stuffed with rice, fresh avocado, lightly grilled broccoli and red peppers, refried black beans, and scrambled eggs topped with a rich, yet mild, red mole sauce. The sandwich was accompanied by a small side salad of shredded vegetables — a nice departure from the predictable and boring fruit medley most restaurants throw on a plate as an afterthought. The burrito smelled scrumptious and this first impression was confirmed when I bit into the sandwich. I was delighted to find that the wrap was not just warm but that it had been grilled Panini style, which made it crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside; a perfect combination. Although there was a lot going on inside with all of those ingredients the combination of eggs and vegetables worked brilliantly.

The lightly seasoned side salad was crunchy and fresh, with the added bonus of making me feel as though I’d eaten a nutritionist-approved quantity of vegetables for the day. I was also pleased to find that the ginger tea was simply pieces of fresh ginger chunks steeped in hot water. Serving the tea in a little white porcelain teapot with a side of honey made for a very charming presentation.

I sampled some of my companion’s eggs Florentine and found that the dish was not nearly as impressive as my grilled burrito. Although the eggs were expertly cooked and the toasted bread was fresh, the hollandaise sauce lacked flavor. A good hollandaise is rich and buttery with a mild lemon flavor, and this simply fell short of the mark. Moreover, there wasn’t even enough of the sauce to cover the poached eggs let alone spill over on to the plate, and isn’t sopping up the sauce with the remaining pieces of toast everyone’s favorite part of the meal?

I’d be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention the top notch bathroom facilities at Il Giardino. Finding a good, spacious, clean bathroom in Guatemala is almost as rare as spotting a family of quetzales (the country’s national bird) nesting in your back yard. This restroom was a fantastic exception to the norm; it was spotlessly clean with more than ample space and three of the walls were covered by a delightful Alice in Wonderland mural.

Until next time…Bon Appétit!

– Julia

*Star Ratings* They range from one to five stars.

One star is poor – don’t waste your time or money.

Two stars is fair or satisfactory – only eat here if they’re no other choices.

Three stars is a good place with some issues.

Four stars is quite good – definitely worth a visit.

Five stars is excellent – there’s no doubt that you’ll have a great dining experience.


  • tracis
    Thanks for such a thorough review! I’ll just add that though they have many vegetarian dishes, they have very little for vegans. The last time I was there was three years ago, and the overall experience was so bad that I never went back. Maybe it’s worth trying again.
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