Many adventures begin with a bang, but this one was hunger pains. I arrived in Guatemala City nourished only by two croissants provided to me by the generous folks at AeroMexico on my flight down here from Seattle.
I drove out of Guatemala City towards Antigua with my stomach growling. I didn’t like what I saw. It was nothing but American fast food chains — Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and everyone’s favorite flag-loving pizza joint Papa John’s. I kid you not; I did not see a single local eatery. This wasn’t looking good. I didn’t travel thousands of miles to eat McNuggets.
I arrived in the picturesque colonial town of Antigua, an hour or so outside of Guatemala City, dropped my luggage at my BnB, and hit the streets looking for anything that wasn’t part of of the Yum! brands empire.
If you follow the Cube or know myself or my wife Ashley, you know one thing for certain. We love Mexican food and its many iterations. We love the Americanized Tex-Mex and California versions, we love the authentic Mexican regional varieties, we love it all. It came as no surprise that the first appealing place I found was of the Mexican variety — Fridas Cocina Mexicana & Bar.
I took a seat at the bar and was given a menu and a Gallo beer. With a cold beer in hand, I’m felt better immediately and I perused the menu.
The menu is extensive and quite affordable, but I didn’t have to leave the first page to know what I wanted. There was a beautiful photo of Sopes de Chorizo, Pollo O Queso, which is 3 friend corn cakes topped with beans, chorizo, chicken, lettuce, green and red salsa, a dash of sour cream, and queso fresco.
Before the meal arrives, I am given three salsas described as mild, medium, and hot. The mild is a collection of pickled onions, carrots, and jalapeños. The medium is a typical salsa verde, a green sauce with just a little bit more kick than I’m used to in a salsa verde. The hot is a nice red salsa that I’m looking forward to simply pouring the entire container on top of my food.
My meal arrives and it is absolutely gorgeous. I’m sure I looked like a boob pulling out my big camera to take a photo as I knew the lowly iPhone wasn’t up to the task of capturing this dish in all its glory.
This dish was described as being served on corn cakes. Cake, to me, implies a certain level of thickness and sweetness like a dessert and that’s not what this was. Think of a giant tortilla chip curved into a bowl with the bottom of the bowl being thicker to absorb all the goodness from the ingredients inside. Is it a chip? No. Is it cake? No. It is, however, delicious.
I took one bite to gauge its spice level. Too low! Who am I? Some average pasty skinned gringo that orders 1-star at all the foreign restaurants? No, damn it, I’m far tougher than that (I’m a 2-star guy)! I piled on spoonfuls of the red salsa and dug in.
The salsa, the queso fresco, fresh veggies, and chicken were all delicious. This simple dish was far better than any Mexican food I get in Seattle. The chorizo was a bit unusual. It was an unnatural red that doesn’t belong to any food, especially meat in which too red means raw. Yet, it was clearly cooked, but had the color of a pre-schooler’s crayon drawing. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Do I recommend Fridas? Absolutely. Antigua is a beautiful place to visit and you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for your Mexican food fix.
Stop on by and tell them Matt sent you and be prepared for a warm welcome and fantastic service. No, don’t do that, they have no idea who I am.
I know nothing about food. I eat it, that’s true, but I don’t cook it as there’s no point inflicting that pain on myself or others. Just an average fella that enjoys above average food.
All were edited with the Snapseed and/or the RNI Films apps on my phone and iPad.