Open 7 days: 5AM to 9PM
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Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
The new Trenton economy is on display at Fuente del Buen Gusto (“FdBG”) every day. Frankly, it’s not the best Guatemalan food in Trenton. There are just too many other places to find fresh-made food in a town that boasts the 6th largest Guatemalan community in the country. Not that FdBG’s food is bad; it’s actually pretty good, but much of it is served off of a buffet, and it suffers a bit from sitting around.
However, you won’t find many other places in town that are busier: on a recent Monday we checked things out in the early morning, then came back for lunch. The joint was packed. I suggest that anyone who wants to understand the new Trenton economy should show up here during the week just to check it out.
The buffet isn’t “all you can eat” in the usual sense: you make up your plate, then show it to the cashier. He’ll note what you’ve taken and quote you a price. A “full” plate with a couple of pieces of chicken, rice, beans, and some additional sides might cost you $7.50. Take less than a full plate, and it will be cheaper.
And this, I think, explains the crowds. First, it’s fast (you’re not waiting for the kitchen to deliver something). Second, the same food in a “cook to order” restaurant might set you back $9 or $10. Perhaps an extra $1.50-2.50 doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But… add in an extra half-hour when you can now be earning wages instead of waiting for food, and you have a compelling value proposition to the clientele who are mostly working men and women from the area.
If you have time, you can order stuff fresh-made from the kitchen (e.g. pupusas). There’s no paper menu, but large LCD screens on the wall behind the bakery counter display menu options on rotation. And that food is really quite competitive with other restaurants. We ordered pupusas, which (after a few minutes) came hot off the grill, and they were quite good. But other than my wife and myself, almost everyone else seemed to be eating off the steam table. We added a relleno (2 photos up), a large meatball of ground chicken and potato, dipped in egg and deep fried, served on tortillas. It was was pre-made and served from behind the counter: tasty, but luke warm. We added a cup of delicious beans from the buffet, for which I think they charged us $1 (this filling lunch set us back $14 for both of us).
FdBG opens every day at 5 AM and stays open to 9PM. It does a big business in coffee and pastries; mornings the buffet is also set up, but it appears to be the same food as you get for lunch (if you’re looking for an American-style breakfast buffet, you’re not going to find one).
It’s not a place I will find myself eating at very often, but it’s a place (when you think about it) that needs to exist.