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Antojito's Cafe - GREAT new Central American Place in Waltham

StriperGuy Jul 31, 2013 09:19 AM

So I have been eying the modest little lunch counter on Moody across from Habanero's (Just who is Habanero anyway?)

Turns out it just might be my fave Central American place in Boston.

Please note the somewhat unusual hours:

Mon and Tues: 7am to 4pm
Wed-Sat 7am-7pm

The proprietress is Salvadoran but also picked up some technique during time spent amongst the Mexican community in South Texas.

On to the food:

Veggie Pupusa: Nice cheesy homemade pupusa served with a baggie of fresh cilantro slaw (alas no zucchini flowers mentioned on the menu in this version). Simple yummy goodness. A very nice pupusa. But due to the simplicity the least interesting thing I had.

Gordita: I had pork, it was yummy and stuffed with goodness and slathered with killer sauce. Just plain YUM.

Chicken Tamale: one of the most noteworthy tamales I've ever eaten. The filling was ethereal and fluffy (how did she do that???) and there was a honking big hung of drumstick on the bone inside. That sauce was amazing.

In summary, delicious, homey, VERY well prepared food, made by someone who really cares.

Blows Guanachapi out of the water (I ate at the one near Ocean State recently) and gives Chelsea restos a run for their money. Can't wait till I am hungry again so I can go eat more!

Antojito's Cafe
489 Moody Street
Waltham, MA 02453
857-312-7086

Please note the somewhat unusual hours:

Mon and Tues: 7am to 4pm
Wed-Sat 7am-7pm

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  1. c
    chompie Jul 31, 2013 10:47 AM

    sounds good!! Just curious, have you been to Mi Tierra, also on Moody St? Havent been in a long time but still crave it and always loved their fresh papusa, homemade cheese and sour cream, avocado and pickled red onion salad etc Curious if the two are right near each other...

    5 Replies
    1. re: chompie
      StriperGuy Jul 31, 2013 10:56 AM

      Is that place still there? I've never hit it myself.

      1. re: StriperGuy
        c
        chompie Aug 1, 2013 08:56 PM

        I see they're still on the net so I assume yes.. Curious to have you try it and compare.. Was your place casual or more upscale? Mi Tierra is very casual but its all homemade inc the sour cream

        1. re: chompie
          StriperGuy Aug 2, 2013 08:31 AM

          Gosh Antojito's is basically a lunch counter, couldn't be more casual. Is there anything particularly delicious at Mi Tierra? I think I remember eating at a Mi Tierra Columbian place in Allston...

          1. re: StriperGuy
            Trumpetguy Aug 3, 2013 08:19 AM

            Papusas are good there!

            1. re: StriperGuy
              MC Slim JB Aug 15, 2013 06:09 AM

              Mi Tierra in Waltham is Guatemalan / Salvadoran, I believe, and my five-years-old memories of it are very fond, especially of its fine pupusas. The only Colombian places I can recall in Allston are Camino Real and the bygone El Cafetal.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      2. opinionatedchef Jul 31, 2013 10:15 PM

        I don't know, stripie. Ever since you raved Gustazo, i kinda don't go running. But your descriptions sound like some very good food so we'll likely go later today.

        p.s. mi tierra wasn't one of the spots you covered on your waltham crawl earlier this yr? must have been another Spanish name(maybe they each share a 't'.........hohoho)

        1 Reply
        1. re: opinionatedchef
          StriperGuy Aug 1, 2013 06:53 AM

          You gotta try Gustazo again, cause her food rocks.

        2. b
          bear Aug 1, 2013 03:51 AM

          I've been staring at the place every time I head to La Chapincita for supplies, but it never seems to be a time when I'm ready for a snack. It's actually been around for quite a while. This is the only semi-recent post I could find:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/770509

          Thanks for the reminder, Striper.

          1. maillard Aug 1, 2013 07:21 AM

            Oh yum, tamales... What sort of sauce? Green?

            1 Reply
            1. re: maillard
              StriperGuy Aug 1, 2013 07:35 AM

              A delicate, very savory, clearly simmered for a LONG time, red sauce.

            2. opinionatedchef Aug 1, 2013 06:52 PM

              O.k. stripey. we just returned from Antojito's. The result is that when you finally get up to the pearly gates, someone is going to say to you," Oh, it's YOU. Well, we weren't going to let you in , but then she told us you were the Antojitos guy, so now you're on the O.K. list ."

              Wow. Would that every CH would drop what they're doing and beat feet to this Waltham spot, so that Order and Tranquility would be returned to the planet. Those Gorditas with pork and cheese are the best Latin entree I've had in Boston. (aside from La Verdad's pescado and carne asada tacos.) Antojitos calls the pork 'chicharones' but they bear no resemblance to the chewy bacon rindy fatty highly msg'd chicharones I've had at other Salvadorean spots here. A's chicharones are moist and meaty and mixed with a fantastic rich brown meaty sauce, stuffed into a split griddled gordita with melted cheese, lettuce and tomato. At $3.50, i feel confidant that these gorditas would win any "Under $5 Entree" contest you might ever find. We each had 2-3 but then again, we were hooongry.

              The pork and cheese pupusas were dynamite too, easily a 10 compared to Somerville Montechristo's 5 . Like you said,stripey, tender and full flavored.
              By the way, their accompaniment is the ubiquitous Salvadorean 'curtido'- a simply pickled mix of shredded cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cilantro.)

              The carne asada taco was fine and the beef had a robust flavor of marinade, but it lacked the fire char that i so love on carne asada.

              The chicken tamale was beautiful. Turns out they are bought in from a local Guatemalan woman. She cooks a piece of bone-in chicken ( wing drummette or back)in the masa , with tomato and onion, and the resulting tamales come out both meaty, full flavored and also delightfully moist.

              We brought home a number of things and are just sooo psyched! Blue Ribbon to Stripey!! Th you and grins all 'round.

              9 Replies
              1. re: opinionatedchef
                c
                chompie Aug 1, 2013 08:58 PM

                wow, that's a lot of glowing from the OC! Just curious if you have been to Mi TIerra for comparisons sake...

                1. re: chompie
                  opinionatedchef Aug 1, 2013 09:56 PM

                  chompie, i needed to find this to spike mi memoria before i answered your question:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/854118

                  so it was Tara that Stripie reported on, and I followed his lead. Even though Mi Tierra DOES have a T, it's not the place i visited. Pupusas aside, do they have any noteworthy empanadas or gorditas? I really cannot imagine ANYone beating A's on their gorditas.

                  Wow, i must be blind or something. I now see that Mi Tierra is two whole blocks FURTHER up Moody from A's. I had no idea there WAS anything up there.I think it's the visual effect of that school across from A's, on the corner of High. It just looks like such a wasteland. (I have to say,i can't figure out why the City of Waltham can't really do some major improvements on Moody St. Waltham must have the largest tax income from all that commercial and industrial base......)

                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    c
                    chompie Aug 2, 2013 08:09 PM

                    I haven't been in many years since moving from there. Looking at the pics for both places, it looks very similar in style. Antolijos looks like more emphasis on Mexican style and Mi Tierra looks more central American dinners besides the hand held stuff like papusas. Don't see gorditas on Mi Tierra menu.. Being a veggie, I have only tried their simple items, so cant tell you on the meat. What I had was cheese papusas, tostadas, refried beans-looks like the same very dark rich spreadable type with a sprinkle of homemade cheese that Antojitos pic shows, plantains, avocado salad with pickled red onions, plantains, homemade cheese(a rounded disk shape about the size of a slider), homemade sour cream, and everything is very simple and fresh and homemade. Sorry I cant tell you more...Both seem to have similar prices and both have heuvos rancheros

                2. re: opinionatedchef
                  StriperGuy Aug 2, 2013 08:37 AM

                  So glad you approve. I might have to hit it again this weekend.

                  1. re: StriperGuy
                    opinionatedchef Aug 2, 2013 07:06 PM

                    I'd really like to know if their huevos rancheros come w/ a thick or thin sauce. Plse post if you see or order them!
                    (Chef Mark at Highland Kitchen does a stellar ranchero sauce (even better than East Cst Grill); chunky toma sauce w/ ancho chiles, oregano, cumin.

                    p.s. last yr you and other CHs went nuts for kesar mangoes etc in Waltham. Did you get them again this yr?June?

                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                      StriperGuy Aug 3, 2013 08:04 AM

                      Hit it again last night and saw someone order the rancheros. Came with a thickish tomato sauce, piece of steak and fried plantain.

                      Oh and the rice and black refried beans were probably the best I've had in Boston.

                      Of the gorditas I would say the beef is the least flavorful. Chicken and pork are the way to go.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        opinionatedchef Aug 3, 2013 11:37 AM

                        thx so much, striper.(i gotta learn thick sauce and thin sauce in Spanish.)

                  2. re: opinionatedchef
                    digga Aug 4, 2013 06:44 PM

                    OC - It's Salvadoran, not Salvadorean.

                    1. re: digga
                      opinionatedchef Aug 5, 2013 12:52 AM

                      i figured you must be right, digga, even though i feel like salvadorian has a better cadence. So i was reflecting about 'ecuadorian' vs 'ecuadoran' and i then hit the dictnry site and look what i found. maybe this is a recent expansion of the word (i have no idea).

                      Salva'doran — adj , — n
                      Salva'dorean — adj , — n
                      Salva'dorian — adj , — n

                      Related forms
                      Ec·ua·do·ran, Ec·ua·dor·e·an, Ec·ua·do·ri·an, adjective, noun

                      i was trying to come up w/ related examples.
                      how about
                      Dor and Dorian? (The devil made me do it)

                  3. e
                    eatanddestroy Aug 2, 2013 11:51 AM

                    Antojito's has been around for a few years. I was addicted to that place when all of their tacos were $1/each. Their prices have gone up just a little, but they are still a bargain (and still delicious).

                    I haven't been there in a while, but your post has motivated me to get back there soon.

                    Thanks!

                    1. l
                      LStaff Aug 2, 2013 12:18 PM

                      yeah, been around for a couple years now. Discussed here too. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/770509

                      Pork gorditas and tacos are the best thing I've had. Less impressed with papusas and chicken and beef selections.

                      Guess I'll have to find another place for lunch now that the chowhound glitterati has deemed it worthy. Well on the bright side maybe i'll be able to get a seat at el amigo again once everyone catches Antojitos fever. ;-)

                      1. tatsu Aug 3, 2013 05:41 PM

                        I've been a fan of both Mi Terra and Antojitos since 2011. I might give the edge in Pupusas to Mi Terra, but I typically want Mi Terra for a full-on meal whereas Antojito is good anytime, especially for something lighter. Here's my yelp review from 2011.

                        "Antojitos Cafe, despite lackluster appointments, is a appropriate introduction to the fundamentals of corn/masa/hominy snack foods of Latin America, particularly Mexico. Authentic, but not bracingly foreign, the warm helpful service will happily guide you.

                        The room resembles an old-time 1950's coffee shop or lunch counter, despite being renovated in 2011. A wooden top bar, stools and coffee vacuum pots are at the ready, while white linoleum clad tables and padded function hall chairs in institution leatherette black fill out the seating area. The floor is covered by palomino colored self-adhesive tiles of textured loop carpet, curious. Very homey, in an unfinished basement sort of way and the carpet tiles are starting to lift away already. Never the less, everything was very clean and in fact the funny carpet tiles were fastidiously swept while I ate.

                        The word Antojitos itself is Mexican for light snacky type of foods, and these Chicharron, Chilaquiles, Gorditas, Tacos, Tortas, and Pupusas are done very well, as nice as any of nearby Latin American places up and down Moody Street. But they also offer up combo plates, a cheaper, as if this wasn't inexpensive enough, way to sample a variety. Rounded out by a few Huevos and Breakfast Burrito plates, as well as ongoing specials, plus basic "New England" Coffee, and you have the entire menu. Very simple, very well done, very corn based.

                        Because the service is so friendly, in a genuine way, the housemade Green Salsa served maple syrup dispensers and Curtido slaw served in a big "help yourself" water bottle with a Tablespoon in it are unintentionally homey touches.

                        Great for breakfast, when a light meal of say, Zucchini Flower Blossom Pupusas and a cup of coffee is all you need to start your day."

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: tatsu
                          opinionatedchef Aug 3, 2013 11:05 PM

                          good job,tatsu. Have you tried Habanero's(on the opposite corner from A's)? Chef jim fahey had a real role in bringing authentic mexican cooking to boston some 30 yrs ago at Mexican Cuisine (near Stereo Jack's in Camb.) . Most of what he made was out of Diana Kennedy. We had mixed experience at H's soon after they opened and i wonder if jim has managed to get it to a good place.

                          1. re: tatsu
                            StriperGuy Aug 4, 2013 09:47 AM

                            Awesome, can you elaborate on what you like at Mi Tierra a bit further? Thx.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              tatsu Aug 6, 2013 05:14 PM

                              Well, Mi Terra has fish options. They are closed for the summer however!

                          2. t
                            treb Aug 5, 2013 07:56 AM

                            Nice review, did the sauce on the Gordita have a real kick? I've had some excellent Gordita's in So CA from a few food trucks, really spicy.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: treb
                              StriperGuy Aug 5, 2013 11:09 AM

                              Not it was mostly just savory and yummy. They provided some house made hot sauces with various things, but I was generally underwhelmed by them and the food easily stood alone.

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                c
                                chompie Aug 6, 2013 10:30 PM

                                Mi Tierra Facebook says they reopen in a couple of days Aug 10, so tatsu, if you want to give recs we would love it! I wrote recs but I have only had vegetarian there. Would love to know about the seafood and know the others here would love to hear about the meat..thanks

                            2. s
                              saria Aug 14, 2013 11:56 AM

                              Tried it out today. The gordita was delicious, though definitely more pupusa dough with lettuce and tomato. It's not made with the masa used for gorditas, which produces a fluffier gordita, and the filling isn't typical chicharrones (the Mexican chicharrones, which are skin, not what Salvadorans call chicharrón, which is the pork used in pupusas), but rather a carne adobada. Basically a Salvadoran interpretation of a Mexican gordita. Either way, it was delicious, just that I felt I was eating a pupusa more than a gordita.
                              Edit: Not that there's only one type of filling, but reading your descriptions I was expecting chicharrón.

                              The tamales I was looking forward to, since I usually have Mexican tamales more than some of the varieties found throughout Central and South America and I've recently been craving. The masa was indeed very nice, but the fillings were a touch underseasoned. The tamal de pollo was the better of the two, but a hit of salt would have done wonders. The pork tamal would have benefitted from using the delicious adobada that I got in the gordita. The pork in the tamal was fairly bland and also a bit too lean. Still, with a little salsa they perk up nicely.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: saria
                                s
                                saria Aug 14, 2013 12:42 PM

                                Also, it's Antojitos. Antojitos basically means "little cravings", it's not referring to a proper name.

                                1. re: saria
                                  StriperGuy Aug 15, 2013 04:23 AM

                                  They spell it Antojito's on their web site:
                                  http://www.antojitoscafe.com/

                                  Part of the apostrophy disease.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    opinionatedchef Aug 15, 2013 10:19 PM

                                    <Part of the apostrophy disease.>
                                    Yes. I cannot remember the name, but there is a chinese(iirc) place on Belmont St off Common- that has the same disease. I can forgive it with non-native speakers but otherwise, argggggggh. And chances are, the sign makers and printers for said restaurants- could be equally responsible for spreading the disease.

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                      j
                                      jajjguy Oct 16, 2013 11:26 AM

                                      Your's

                                      1. re: jajjguy
                                        opinionatedchef Oct 16, 2013 11:33 AM

                                        yes, that's it!

                                        1. re: jajjguy
                                          StriperGuy Oct 16, 2013 11:50 AM

                                          Yah that is a particularly egregious example... and the food sucks too.

                                      2. re: StriperGuy
                                        nsenada Oct 16, 2013 11:55 AM

                                        There's a place in Seattle called "Specialty's." Drives me insane every time I pass it. They actually have really great brownies and cookies.

                                        BTW - nice seeing you at Antojitos, I am still flashing back on the amazing pork gordita. The beef torta was outstanding as well. Definitely gonna make the field trip out there again.

                                        1. re: nsenada
                                          StriperGuy Oct 16, 2013 01:30 PM

                                          Great to see ya, great chow!

                                  2. Alcachofa Oct 16, 2013 10:40 AM

                                    Has anyone tried the Chilaquiles here?

                                    1. b
                                      bear Oct 16, 2013 12:20 PM

                                      The green salsa in the syrup jars on the counters and tables is really good.

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