I was quite excited to see some Grand Opening!! signs flapping around on the building that used to be the Moose Lodge in Phoenixville.
It was a brewpub for a minute and a half a couple of years ago, but seems to have been vacant since.
I would have been happy to see almost anything go in there, but I was especially thrilled when I saw the name: Antigua Guatemala.
I'm not sure we have any specifically Guatemalan restaurants even in downtown Philly, although I'm sure a few "Mexican" places are run my Guatemalans. I think Pura Vida in Northern Liberties might be one...
Anyway, the menu is small right now, but the chef was making the rounds while I had dinner, and he said they're just getting up to speed, and plan to add Tamales and lots more once they get comfortable.
I think they're off to a good start, the dining area is pleasant, with some casual booths at the front, and tables and chairs in the back. Service was super-friendly, maybe too attentive, but I'll write that off to them being brand new. The young waitstaff speaks perfect English, as well as Spanish, so there were no communication issues.
There aren't really any small starters yet, just a few entrée-ish things, and a special "caldo" a big bowl of stewy soup, whose ingredients change every day. Saturday is chicken, actually hen, and I could see another diner enjoying a bowl of it. But be ready, it's rustic: there were big pieces of chicken still on the bone, so you can't be dainty with it, you have to dig right in, but it looked tasty.
While I was waiting for my food, the waiter brought some chips, doused with a mild mole, and accompanied by two good salsas. The chips tasted fresh and homemade, which is to say, a little oily, but I like that...
I decided on the Parrillada
, or mixed grill. It featured a large piece of thiny-sliced steak, which somehow stayed very juicy, a perfectly-cooked chicken breast, again, amazingly juicy, and a piece of sausage. All were lightly grilled, and there was a bit of mild sauce drizzled across the top. Warm tortillas, some routine "Spanish Rice" and a good-sized (but un-dressed) salad accompanied.
Everything was expertly cooked, and nicely seasoned, but in the end, it's basically just grilled meat, so it was a little
on the plain side, even the sausage was fairly tame. But a splash of the salsa that came with the chips, or a squeeze of lime, and a drizzle of the very good hot sauce on the table, and it perked right up. In the end I liked it a lot, and would order that again.
The menu also includes a roasted chicken, fried chicken, grilled chicken, a steak, a fish, the daily Caldo, and... fajitas. I don't think those are traditionally Guatemalan, but hey, people like fajitas, and in the end, it's grilled meat in a tortilla.
Everything's pretty inexpensive for what it is, my very large plate of food was $14, which I thought was a real bargain. They don't have really cheap items yet, like sandwiches or smaller plates, but I suspect they soon will offer something less formal in addition to the full dinners.
I'm looking forward to trying more. The staff couldn't be more friendly, the place is fixed up nicely, and they're open 10am to 10pm, I THINK every day. Certainly most days...
119 South Main St
Edited by philadining, 18 July 2010 - 02:20 AM.