Cafe Antigua: a great taste of Guatemala
Cafe Antigua is located at 1903 N. Classen Blvd in Oklahoma City (map). Call them at 405.602.8984. Hours are 8am to 5pm Monday through Wednesday and 8am to 8pm Thursday through Saturday.
Several of our readers have clamored for a review of Cafe Antigua recently, so happily I set out to accommodate. It can be a little tricky to spot at first. I drove by it three times before I even saw it. It’s hiding in an old strip of shops right on 19th and Classen, and it’s well worth the search. Look for the name of the restaurant painted on the windows, as that’s the only sign.
Once again, my faithful sidekick and Mom tagged along for another new restaurant experience. Upon entering, she was immediately thrilled to see the employees cleaning the tables with a real bottle of spray cleaner and a clean cloth, as opposed to a wet dish towel “has laid around on the floor for who knows how long” (her words). Score one for the restaurant.
Cafe Antigua serves both breakfast and lunch the entire time it’s open, so that’s nice. I know I like breakfast food better at other times of the day than breakfast time. So for lunch, I ordered the “signature breakfast” entree of Motulena Eggs ($5.75), which consisted of two corn tortillas and black beans topped with two eggs smothered in chirmol (charred tomato and mint sauce) and sliced avacado, queso fresco (fresh cheese), queso seco (a dry Nicaraguan cheese), parsley and chips. It was delicious, and the portion was just right. Most of the portions here are not huge, which I appreciate. Most of the entrees are also served with their homemade jalapeno sauce on the side, which is hot, but yummy.
Mom chose the Enchilades Guatemaltecas ($5.25). This consisted of a tostada with lettuce, picadillo (chopped beef), topped with viniagrette, cabbage and beets, salsa roja, slice of hard egg, parsley and queso seco. She’s usually not a meat-eater, but she loved this dish for two reasons. First, she could taste the tangy veggies, and second, it matched her outfit that day (does anyone else have a cute little mother who loves to wear purple and chartreuse green together?). She also got to know a couple of the other patrons while we waited on our food. I think most everyone in there was either a lawyer who had a business on Classen or a sweet, little retired couple who lived nearby in one of those big houses just east of there. At any rate, everyone Mom talked to was a regular customer. The Valdez family of five has owned this place the last two years.
I wanted a return engagement before I wrote this review, so last week my trusty sidekick and I kidnapped two co-workers and told them where we were headed. They were game. This time I tried the special of the day, which was the Mayan Rice ($8.49). It consisted of rice, black beans, onion, tomato, cilantro, parsley and chicken or beef (I chose the chicken). I loved it and wish somebody would fix this for me every night at home. This is one of their larger entrees, and I could have split it with someone had I known.
Mom chose the Omelette Chapin ($7.49) which was mixed with tomato, bell pepper, chives, onions, chirmol and cheddar, accompanied with a side of sour cream and plantains (or “plantations” as she called them). This is a great dish for vegetarians.
My friend Beth chose the Chili Rellenos ($7.75), which was two small, poblano peppers with beef and veggies, rice and a house salad. The peppers were very tender, not with a deep-fried crunchy coating like a lot of Tex-Mex places serve, and she described the meat as having a good, earthy taste. But I’m not sure she was really sold on this dish. It might warrant another review and opinion.
My friend Susan tried the Carne Asada ($9.99), which was grilled beefsteak, two green onions, rice, black beans, house salad and avacado. It looked really good, and she said it was, eating every bite.
Cafe Antigua serves a variety of Guatemalan coffees and fruit drinks. When asked what we wanted to drink, Mom asked if they had Guatemalan tea, which puzzled our waiter for a moment, as he proceeded to explain the different kinds of coffee. She then asked for an explanation of the fruit drinks, which he pleasantly and patiently provided. Then, of course, she ordered water. It was like being in a Seinfeld episode with Kramer and George ordering at the cafe. Our waiter just smiled like he was used to this with all the other sweet, little old customers. The episode continued after lunch, at which point Mom wanted to try the “Plantations in Glory” (sigh). I ordered her the Plantains in Glory ($3.25) and just smiled at the waiter. These were cooked in brown sugar, cinnamon and kahlua, topped with sour cream, and they were fantastic, especially after the spicy entree I just had.
So if you want a little something different in a colorful, but discreet, setting, try Cafe Antigua. I know I’ll be back, even though it’s not anywhere close to where I live or work. It’s definitely worth the trip. Let us know what you think in the comments!