Monday, August 12, 2019

Cafe Antigua

-Grubbing in Chicago
Guatemalan Snacks off Elston

I got tipped by the legendary GWiv on a little restaurant refuge for Guatamalen's on Elston. It's corner street location is directly across from the Consulate General of Guatemala offices. That and the fact you kind of have to know it's there means this is a hot spot for Guatemalans in Chicagoland. 

Locals Favorite in Jefferson Park

I recently made the pilgrimage up Elston and ended up returning just a few days later with my boy who's of Guatemalan descent. There's not a ton of Guatemalan restaurants in the city but there are a  few as well as some bakeries too. Cafe Antigua features a menu of about 10-15 different classics from the Central American nation. Most of them antojitos in that they're little snacks that will only cost you anywhere from $2-$5. You can come here and start your day with a Guatemalan breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs with peppers and tomato alongside sauteed plantains and black beans.

Guatemalan Breakfast at Cafe Antigua

The food of Guatemala mimics that of other countries in Central America and also Mexico. They eat lots of tamales down there and they tend to be larger and also a bit softer than their Mexican counterparts. Guatemalans always wrap theirs in banana leaves and typically stuff them with pork or chicken. These were some extra plump tamales. If you like steamed masa you should enjoy these.

Guatemalan Tamale at Cafe Antigua

The people of Guatemala also enjoy eating chile rellenos. These too are different than the chile rellenos you're probably used to. In Guatemala the peppers are stuffed with minced meat and combination of chopped vegetables such as carrots and green beans. At Cafe Antigua they serve a chile relleno taco on a housemade corn tortilla. Both the tortilla and the fried pepper are spread with a mild red sauce and then they sprinkle some cotija cheese on top. I still prefer my peppers stuffed with cheese but this was also very pleasing. Though some may find the sprinkled cheese a little much.

Chile Rellano at Cafe Antigua

I wasn't familiar with the Shuco until I read on the menu that it was the official street food of Guatemala. It's a hot dog and if it was anything like the Mexican Danger Dog I adore I was in for a treat. Well it's actually a bit different in that it's made with a Guatemalan longaniza sausage. Two of them actually as these are cut much smaller. Similar to Filipino longanisa. The sausage is topped with an array of toppings and it's a pretty interesting bite but not something I liked compared to the other stuff. Lots of items here are made on site at Antojitos Guatemaltecos on Fullerton which is their brand new second location. Mike Sula did a review a couple months ago as well. Click HERE.

Guatemalan Sausage at Cafe Antigua

When I first learned of Cafe Antigua from my guy GWiv (@lowslowbbq) I was very intrigued with their chow mein tostadas. I'd remembered learning from the shelves of a Guatemalan bakery that chow mein was very big there. This is a product of the Chinese migration that started when the railroads were first being built in the country and lasted up until about the 70's. Thus there's a pretty nice size population of people of Chinese descent in Guatemala. Chinese food is big there and chow mein is one of the most popular dishes in both the Chinese restaurants and family kitchens. The stir fried noodles are mixed with sliced carrots, peppers, and onion and served atop a tostada that's been spread with that same warm but mild in heat red sauce that also goes on top of the pasta with cheese. This was my favorite dish and a delicious little snack at just $3. I was able to eat it like a tostada after removing some of the noodles from the top. Cafe Antigua is run by a friendly local who wanted to help the community. Two ladies cook in the kitchen and he handles all the other stuff including the sales from their little gift shop with different chips, candies, and ingredients from home.

Chow Mein Tostada at Cafe Antigua

Cafe Antigua
5540 N Long Ave
Chicago, IL 60630
(773) 930-4962

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