***Shtilero now has a permanent location! Find the truck at 1a Avenida Sur #4 – Open from 8 am to 10 pm.***
While there are many food street vendors in and around Antigua and throughout the country, it’s unusual to find food trucks anywhere in Guatemala. Most street vendors usually prefer to set up shop in specific street corners or near/around parks. They rarely – if ever – move around. Add to that the cost of the vehicle itself, Guatemala’s high price of gas and maintenance required and it’s just not feasible for the vast majority of people to set up anything resembling a food truck.
The more I think about it, a food truck makes perfect sense in Antigua – rental rates for commercial spaces here are outrageously expensive, often thousands of dollars a month, making it difficult for business owners to break even. Set up a mobile kitchen and voila, instant restaurant. Prime real estate, very little in overhead, no high rents to pay – something the owner of Antigua’s first food truck, Shtilero, is finding success with.
The unmistakable Shtilero Kombi van
Shtilero, a mobile sandwich shop, is the creation of Alex Houel – who came to Antigua via France. This incredibly cool food truck is a Volkswagen Kombi, the van made famous by surfers and road trippers worldwide.
It took a bit for Alex and his partner, Rocio, to find the perfect vehicle – he wanted a German model rather than the newer Mexican and Brazilian models. He found a 1971, Germany-built Kombi and set out to restore it from the inside out. The most notable modifications are the stainless steel kitchen inside the vehicle and the cut-out roof, the latter providing a waterproof roof and when raised up, the needed headroom.
Inside the Shtilero kitchen
Where to Find Shtilero
You can find Shtilero around Antigua on weekends and most weekdays. Because the Shtilero doesn’t have a set location, you’ll have to check their Facebook page to find out where they’ll be on any given day. Most of the time you can find Shtilero parked either in front of El Calvario Church (at the end of Calle de Los Pasos), next to La Candelaria (1ra Avenida Norte), near Hermano Pedro Church (3ra Avenida Sur), or next to Tanque de la Unión (2da Avenida Sur).
They’ve found a permanent home at 1a Avenida Sur #4 and are open 8 am to 10 pm. They occasionally travel to Guatemala City and are available to cater events (phone # 5157 9176).
Story Behind Name
So what’s the deal with the name Shtilero? As Alex explains it, he’s from the northern region of France, Ch’ti, which when pronounced sounds like “Shti”. Wanting to combine an element of Guatemala into the name, he decided to mix the word “chilero”, which here is slang for “cool”. And that’s how Shti + Chilero begat Shtilero.
Side note: If you want to know what people of northern France are like, watch the French comedy “Welcome to the Sticks” – the most successful French movie ever made. From what I gather, northerners from France are the equivalent of southerners in the US… funny accents, kind people and good food.
But let’s talk about food. Is it good and how much does it cost? Well, it’s surprisingly affordable. Sandwiches cost Q25, but the combo is a much better deal at Q30 as it comes with rosemary-seasoned salted fries, a natural drink (mandarin orange juice was available when I visited), and a small pack of cookies – the last item nothing to write home about.
Meatball sandwich combo at Shtilero
On my visit, I had the meatball sandwich, which had a rich tomato sauce and a good amount of gooey mozzarella cheese – I really enjoyed it. The salted potatoes were an enjoyable and hearty side order, though a bit greasier than I would’ve liked. The mandarin orange juice was good and had the right amount of sweetness to it.
Chicken Pesto and Egg Sandwich at Shtilero
I didn’t try the chicken pesto and egg sandwich – the only other option that day, as the menu varies a bit. A customer that bought one gave it thumbs up, so I might try it when the wife orders one another day – I’m hooked on the meatball sandwich, so it’s not likely I’ll give this one a shot anytime soon.
If you happen to run into Shtilero, give it a try! Let them know Rich sent you. It’s a great alternative to Subway (yuck), especially if you’re craving a meatball sandwich, which can be hard to find in Antigua. Here are some more pics of the Shtilero bus.
More places to eat here: https://www.okantigua.com/antigua-guatemala-restaurant/
Have you eaten at Shtilero? How was it?