Antigua, GT: Cafetenango Sunday brunch at Finca Filadelfia
Finca Filadelphia is a stunningly beautiful coffee plantation 10 minutes from Antigua in the town of San Felipe de Jesus. They offer coffee tours, cupping demos, birding trips, bike rental, horse and mule rides, rappelling and lots more.
There is a hotel and two restaurants: the more casual Cafetanango and the pricy Pergaminos.
I liked brunch, not so much for the food, but for the sheer loveliness of the setting. Not that the brunch wasn’t good, but for that class of restaurant it wasn’t anything that special.
I’ve been to four brunch buffets so far in Antigua and the last three are rated about the same. Choosing between them depends on what you are looking for
1. Las Velas at the Hotel Camino Real – So far ahead of the pack. Not only is it the best in Antigua so far, but one of the best anywhere. Everything is top-notch here, food, ambiance and service … especially the food. More than double the price of the other buffets, but so worth it.
2. Café Condessa – Best price, very good baked goods and coffee, nice selection of salads, a few hot items such as soup and egg dishes. One of the better fresh fruit offerings that included huge whole blackberries. The fruit was all tasty-ripe as well.
3. Siitz - El Convento Boutique Hotel – The immediate restaurant gets the edge over Cafetanango, though the surrounding area at the latter is prettier. The hot buffet here is more varied and interesting. The service is inept.
4. Cafetanango – Good coffee, nice omelet station (better than Siitz), lovely grounds. The hot buffet could be more interesting.
Here's what we had rated from A+ to F -
B …... Coffee, omelet station, escabeche
B - …. Baked goods, fresh fruit, juice, paches, salsas, tortillas
C …... Hot buffet
Service: B + … Very, very good
Ambiance: B + … Very, very good
Restaurant record with address and other info
Flickr photostream with more pictures
Details in next reply.
COFFEE, OMELET STATION, ESCABECHE: B … Above average
Cafetenango had the most add-ins for omelets and eggs and they did a nice job. Next to the egg station was a big pot of escabeche (spicy pickled vegetables) that was one of the better versions I’ve ever had. There was excellent spicy heat, the veggies were fresh and crisp. The mix was nice too. In addition to the usual carrots, jalapenos and onions, there was cauliflower and something else I’m forgetting.
This is a coffee plantation after all. The roads are lined with coffee plants. The finca takes coffee seriously and they do a good job. This was a medium roast, and while I’m more of a strong coffee fan, this was smooth, balanced and had flavor. Servers circulated with pots and were generous on refills. The only minus was that unless you asked for milk on the side (separado) they poured from a pot which already had milk added.
BAKED GOODS, FRESH FRUIT, JUICE, PACHES, SALSAS, TORTILLAS: B - … Very good
All the juices, papaya, pineapple and orange were fresh and flavorful
The pache (a tamal but made with potato rather than masa) had a nice texture and taste. It was chicken with a strip of pepper. There might have been the customary olive, but I shared this and didn’t get the piece with the olive.
The baked goods were also good. There was some sort of plain vanilla cake sprinkled with powdered sugar, cubertos (muffins), cookies and dinner rolls.
They had a comal and a lady making tortillas to order. They were delivered in a stylish tortilla bag which did its job of keeping them warm.
The fresh fruit was tasty. It was chopped in bins or whole and arranged in a bowl. They get points over the usual under ripe fresh fruit buffet. Cut fruit included watermelon, melon, papaya, pineapple and strawberries. There was also granola and yogurt available.
HOT BUFFET: C … Average
There were just under a dozen chafing dishes, but they weren’t all that interesting. I had plantanos, whole red beans, mashed black beans, crema and chicken sausage. All were fine, but only the thick, rich crema remains in my memory. My friend had the Gautemalan chicken tacos which are not the same as Mexican. They are rolled.
SERVICE: B + … Very, very good
The staff was stylishly uniformed with white shirts with black details, black pants, black aprons and black head scarves.
They were really friendly, they kept an eye on tables, answered questions, got us extras from the buffet table (our table was up some steps)
AMBIANCE: B + … Very, very good
The grounds are beautiful, lots of flowers, green hills, pastures and, of course coffee. The main restaurant seems to be on an upper terrace with a fire place. There is a huge grill next to the fireplace that was not in use on our visit.
One level down from the main dining area, tables line a wide corridor that connects to the coffee bar and gift shop. Down a few more steps is a smaller terrace where the buffet was set up. There were a few tables with umbrellas for shade.
At the foot of the steps to the restaurant, a green lawn is dotted with garden tables with umbrellas. There's a pretty stone wash basin.
The basins are often found in public squares in Guatemala. People do laundry and sometimes bathe children there.
Many don't have plumbing or water in their houses and this is a good alternative to washing in the nearest river.
I'm sure at Finca Filadelfia this is just decorative and no one visiting is in need of a public laundry, so to speak.
This link on Antigua Daily photos writes
“these public water tanks and washbasins serve as the places for doing the laundry and for water distribution. Furthermore, public laundry washbasins (sometimes rivers or lake shores) serve as the gathering place for news, gossip and community building through the interactions that take place. Public washbasins could be considered the first news broadcasting sites or social networks such as Facebook or Twitter; computers are not required. In many places in Guatemala this stills holds true.”
There are lots more lovely photos of public lavaderos and pilas on that site.
There is a coffee bar off the corridor where I think they have the cupping demos.
The gift shop had many nice, if pricey, Guatemalan arts and crafts. They also sell the finca’s coffee and other gourmet items such as jams and honey
At times there is live music. The band was setting up just as we were leaving.
There’s also a large area with playground equipment for children close to the restaurant.
The focus of Finca Filadelphia is tourists and the prices are tourist prices. Given that, they do a nice job and they have a superbly trained staff.
I definitely would not go out of my way to have brunch here again, just because it wasn’t as fabulous as the setting. BTW, if you go, get reservations. We were told we didn’t need any and then we had a wait.
I’ve always been too late to catch the cupping demos and finca tour. The last is at 2 pm. These are also tourist-priced starting at $25. However, I do want to go back for those. There is a free shuttle from two locations in Antigua to the finca.
If I were driving, I’d be more likely to eat in the town of San Felipe which is only five minutes away. The restaurants are geared to Guatemalans and there are lots of street vendors selling black tortillas, tasty, atol, Guatemalan candy, etc.
However, if I took the shuttle, I’d give the restaurant a try. That big grill has me intrigued.
It is a beautiful and relaxing place … with good coffee.
Antigua Daily Photo did an excellent series on Finca Filadelphia with lots of gorgeous photos and great information about coffee growing and processing.