Antigua, GT: La Cuevita de Los Urquizu buffet of typical Guatemalan dishes.
Hot stews in terra cotta pots are at then entrance. A table that runs the length of one room holds sides and desserts. Buffet here doesn’t mean serve yourself. Decide on a main dish and two sides and the staff will put together the plate. There is a choice of tortillas or pan Frances with the meal.
This site has some good close-ups of the contents in each pot
Select a table from one of the many rooms and a server will take your drink and dessert order. Pay at the end of the meal. This report says “The rooftop at La Cuevita is the best spot to eat there -- great views of the ruins across the way”
They are really good about answering what each pot holds I didn’t notice the menu board out front and asked what each dish held. There are also dishes available that are not on the buffet table.
A few of the stews and dishes include the classics such as pepian, hilachas, suban-ik, tiras de panza, chiles rellenos, adovado, revolcado. There’s carne asada, pierna horneada, pollo horneado, longanizas, chorizo,
Some sides include: Ensalada Rusa, piloyada, Guatemalan guacamole, frijoles volteados curtido de remolacha
Desserts include: Plantanos en Gloria, plantanos en mole, molletes en miel, pan de banano
There’s a refrigerated case with pasteles (cakes) de fresa, crema and tres leches plus a few other items.
Other items posted on menu signs throughout the restaurant: panes con chile, pierna y frijole, tortillas con carne, enchaladas, Guatemalan tostadas, Guatemalan tacos, Guatemalan pupusas de chicharron, frijoles, queso y mixtas, ceviches y cocteles.
I put the qualifier “Guatemalan” in front of some of these items because they are totally different than the more familiar Mexican items. A Guatemalan taco, for example, is like a rolled Mexican flauta. A Guatemalan pupusa is much larger than the better known Salvadorian version.
They open at 8 am and serve breakfast, but I haven’t looked into that yet.
The name loosely translates as The little cave/den of the Urquizu family, It is located across the street from the Capuchin Nunnery
Here's what I had rated from A+ to F -
B …... Cordero (lamb stew)
B - … Quisquil (squash
)C - … Picado de rabano (chopped radishes)
A - … Complimentary escabeche (pickled vegetables)
B - … Complimentary tortillas
C …... Jaimaica resfresco
D - … strawberry granizada (slushie)
Service: B - … Very good
Ambiance: B - … Very good
I rarely give an “A” rating, so the above are better than it might seem. I liked the food and the restaurant and recommend it.
Restaurant record with more info such as address, phone, hours and menu
Flickr photostream with more pictures
BREAKFAST AT LA CUEVITA DE LOS URQUIZU
This is one of the best Guatemalan breakfasts I’ve had. I can give it no higher praise than to say I would not be ashamed to take Guatemalan friends or family here.
Breakfast is a little different from lunch. There is a menu (see Flickr photostream) and a server takes your order rather than ordering at the front of the restaurant
People think “Latin American” and expect spicy. That is not the case of Guatemala which for the most part eschews all things spicy. So the food might not be to everyone’s taste. However, this is as good of an example of a Guatemalan breakfast as I have tried anywhere. If you like spicy, ask for hot sauce. That’s what most Guatemalans do.
Here's what I had rated from A+ to F -
B - … Complementary bread basket
A - … Complementary moshito de avena
B +… Tamal colorado
A - … Plantanos en Gloria
B + …Frijoles con crema y queso
C + …Grilled longaniza
A - … Grilled chorizo
A - … Complementary tortillas
B + … Fresh orange juice
B + … Coffee with milk
D + … Cappuccino
Flickr photostream with more pictures
CUEVITA DE LAS URQUIZAS BREAKFAST DETAILS
COMPLEMENTARY BREAD BASKET: B - ..... Very good
While the bread basket was fine, this is not the pan Frances that make my taste buds sing. It didn’t have that yeasty quality I like so much. The pan dulce was on the dry side, but that is what some of these are like in Guatemala. They are meant for dipping in coffee. It did that well. Both were of good quality, so while they weren’t amazing, I couldn’t downgrade them any more.
COMPLEMENTARY MOSHITO DE AVEENA: A - …. Way above average
Moshito is like cream of wheat, only using oatmeal. This is the best version I have ever had. It was nicely spiced and garnished with a piece of cinnamon bark and a clove of nutmeg. Consistency wise it was the mama bear of moshito … not to thick or thin, just right. Nicely sugared as well
TAMAL COLORADO: B + …. Very, very good
I love the wetter Guatemalan tamales is this is a good example why. The masa was nicely done and wrapped around two tender, flavorful pieces of pork. It was topped with a red sauce that was almost as thick as spaghetti sauce and it had a nice tomato flavor. It seems the better tomales colorado have this type of tomato sauce.
PLANTANOS EN GLORIA: A - …. Way above average
Like the moshito, this is the best version I’ve ever had and, again it was due to the spicing. The liquid was good. Sometimes it tastes like nothing but water.
FRIJOLES CON CREMA Y QUESO: B + …. Very, very good
Very nice smooth frijoles. The little piece of queso was delicate and tasty. The crema brought it all together.
GRILLED LONGANIZA: C + … Slightly above average
I’ve come to the conclusion that Guatemalan longaniza is just not to my taste. They are fine but they don’t have much flavor to me. These were nicely grilled and I could see the herbs, but meh.
GRILLED CHORIZO: A - …. Way above average
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve tried a Guatemalan chorizo I didn’t like and this was one of the best I’ve had, meaty, spicy and nicely grilled. They came with two salsas, a very good green salsa that had heat and a type of salsa fresca. The tomato salsa was mild and the tomatoes had flavor
COMPLEMENTARY TORTILLAS: A - …. Way above average
I wasn’t impressed with the tortillas on my last visit, so this might be a matter of timing. Lots of places make the tortillas early in the day and then hold them in baskets, reheating later.
In the morning the tortilla ladies were just making them and they were hot off the griddle … simply a beautiful soft interior with a nicely griddled outside.
FRESH ORANGE JUICE: B + …. Very, very good
This was a generous serving of a tasty juice.
COFFEE WITH MILK: B + …. Very, very good
I am usually not a fan of mild roasts. This was one but it was done right. It was so good I ordered a second cup.
CAPPUCCINO: D + … Below average
I know this type of cappuccino with the fancy glass and three distinct layers is a favorite of many Guatemalans. However, I think they made it with the same coffee as the regular. It had zero flavor and was even watery tasting. Nice foam and sprinkle of spices on top … but is supposed to be about the coffee.
A FEW OTHER BREAKFAST ITEMS
- Huevos a caballo (eggs on horseback: fried eggs on a grilled, thin slice of beef)
- Chuchitos (like tamales, but with mashed potatoes instead of masa)
- Pancakes or waffles
- Typical Guatemalan breakfast
- Desayuno Campesino (fried eggs with green sauce on ham)
- Cereal, toast
- Rellentitos (fried mashed plantano patties filled with beans)
- Plantanos in honey
- Manjar in leche (flan, I think)
- Magdalena (a sort of orange tea bread)
I over-ordered and they wrapped the food carefully to go. Nothing moved around and my remaining breakfast was intact. On this visit, near, Christmas, poinsettias replaced the bariletas or kites as decorations. There was a nice Christmas tree in one room.
It was quiet at eight in the morning on the sunny patio. There were three tables of Guatemalans enjoying breakfast. I still haven’t made it up to the upstairs terrace. My next stay in Antigua is going to be the terrace tour, checking out the terraces at many restaurants in the city.
I wouldn’t hesitate to return. Maybe next time I’ll try the longanizas en chirmol de Zapatera at La Cuevita de Los Urquizu that were in a big pot at the front of the restaurant.
We had lunch here and were really excited to visit again since we had eaten here both times on our previous trips. The food still looked delicious and the staff still very friendly, but the food did not wow us this time. We were a large group and we all agreed that the food was under seasoned. We ate there on our 2nd day, expecting to return multiple times, but we didn't bother returning at all.
Really sorry to read that post, JazzyK. It's been a favorite of mine since it was just a couple of pots on the street cooking lunch for local workmen. I wonder if now that their clientele is more tourist than local, they're less concerned about the quality. Shame. I'll still try it again when I'm there April/May in the hope that you just hit it when some regular cook was on vacation.
For Guatemalan food, it was one of the best spots right in the city of Antigua. However, this was my first time eating there, so I can't compare it to the past. From dish to dish though it was inconsistant with some things very good to others not up to averages such as the chopped radish salad.
LAS URQUIZAS DETAILS
CORDERO (lamb stew): B … Above average
I chose the cordero because at that time it was the only dish I was unfamiliar with. The red sauce was rich and the lamb flavorful, tender and falling off the bone. It was a satisfying dish.
A note to people who may not be familiar with Guatemalan food. It is not highly seasoned and to some that translates to bland. Often Guatemalans will add hot sauce to taste. If you like that, just ask for some hot sauce. My Guatemalan friends always do.
QUISQUIL (squash): B - … Very good
This is similar to summer squash or zucchini. It was very fresh and as tasty as that type of squash gets when simply cooked. It wasn’t mushy or over-cooked.
PICADO DE RABANO (chopped radishes): C - … Slightly below average
One of the dishes I’m crazy about in Gautemala is picado de rabano and the similar dish, chojin. This was NOT a good example of this. It was totally devoid of flavor and I didn’t bother finishing it.
COMPLIMENTARY ESCABECHE (pickled vegetables): A - … Way above average
The large slices of onions, carrots and jalapeños still had a little crunch. There was a nice heat to them. It is probably one of the better escabeches that I’ve had anywhere.
COMPLIMENTARY TORTILLAS: B - … Very good
The were good, as are all Guatemalan tortillas. Hand made, of course, and just off the griddle. Pan Frances, a yeasty dinner roll was the other option. The basket on another table looked really good and I’ll give that a try next time.
JAIMAICA RESFRESCO: C … Average
Agua fresca is called a refresco in Guatemala. This was fine but nothing special.
STRAWBERRY GRANIZADA (slushie): D - … Bordering on inedible
If you like 7-11 slushies, this might not seem so bad, but it is a sad example of a Guatemalan granizada
Grazinada can mean anything from hand-shaved ice topped with tropical fruit to slushy types which are little better than what 7-11 serves. Here it was like the later. There was this awful artifical strawberry flavor. The saving grace was it was a cold dessert on a hot day, but even then I couldn’t finish it.
SERVICE: B - … Very good
The staff answered questions and brought the food and check promptly. They didn’t interact much with customers outside of answering questions, but were pleasant.
AMBIANCE: B - … Very good
The first tiny room has three tables. After that there is a larger enclosed patio. I didn’t go up to the terrace upstairs. It is a pleasant casual place to eat. High chairs are available for babies.
This is an excellent write up on a blog and it has a lovely view of the patio shot from the upstairs. I found the food descriptions exactly on target.
Here’s a nice photo of the exterior from Antigua Daily Photo
This restaurant is a happy middle ground between the tourist joints and the modest commodors or street vendors. For people who would be hesitant to try the later, this is a good way to sample the cuisine of Guatemala without worry.
The portions are generous and you won’t leave hungry. I’ve read that if you ask, they will let you have a taste of some of the stews before making a choice.
The business card reads
“Si usted viene a La Antigua y no come en La Cuevita de Los Urquizú ¡Es como si nunca hubiera venido!”
“”If you come to Antigua and don’t eat at La Cuevita de Los Urquizu, it’s like you never came!”