Lunch in Lynn: Exploring Central American Flavors at Casa Antigua

Posted: March 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Casa Antigua, Central American, Guatemalan, Lynn | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

We had a couple of opportunities to lunch at Casa Antigua in the past few weeks. A Central American restaurant that opened about six months ago a few doors down from the Blue Ox, Casa Antigua serves up three meals a day with an extensive traditional menu.

On our first visit, we started with the cheese and pork pupusa ($1.75), which was excellent: crispy, cheesy, and wonderful. We moved on to a steak burrito ($7) and the tipico montanero plate ($11.50). The burrito was rich and savory, and the plentiful steak had great flavor. We liked that the whole thing was grilled a bit after having been rolled up, which melted the cheese and added to the texture.

The tipico montenero (Columbian typical dish) consisted of grilled steak, chicharron, rice, beans, fried plantain, and a fried egg. It’s served with corn tortillas and a side salad. Quite a big portion, there was no way it was all going to be eaten in one sitting. After having tasted the carne asada in the burrito, the steak was our least favorite part of the meal. While it had good flavor, it seemed dry and a little chewy. The chicharron, which the menu translates as pork rinds, is fabulous if thick chewy bacon is up your alley. The corn tortillas are fresh and hand-made, but thick and lack the flavor we are used to.

On our second visit, we were joined by Corey Jackson from Downtown Lynn, Emily O’Brien from the Urban Wine Project and Exposed Urban, and Brian Knowles of The Gringo Chapin.

We discussed our choices while munching on the addictive freshly made tortilla chips. Brian was intrigued by the tacos de lengua, as he had recently eaten beef tongue elsewhere. He ordered the tacos combination ($8.50), served with rice, beans, and fresh avocado and enjoyed it so much he was inspired to buy lengua later that week to prepare at home. Never having tried tongue, we tasted it and found the meat surprisingly tender and tasty.

Other plates at the table included churrasco, a traditional dish of steak, rice, and beans ($11) and the plato alla Antigua ($14) which featured grilled chicken and shrimp  with accompanying vegetables. The shrimp were tender and highly flavored ($11). In fact, while we really enjoy the salty seasonings used in quite a bit of Casa Antigua’s food, those looking to reduce their sodium intake should consider themselves forewarned.

The star of the afternoon was Emily’s pescado frito. We had all expected the fried tilapia ($10.50) to be standard fillets, so were delighted when a whole fish was placed on the table. Despite its wonderfully crusty exterior, the interior was tender and flakey.

If you’re looking to move beyond the same old lunch places, add Casa Antigua to your short list. It looks a bit dark from the outside, and the music is quirky (both times we visited, the TV, piped music, and juke box all randomly fought for airspace), but the food is hearty and appealing, the prices are reasonable, and the staff is efficient and cheerful.

Casa Antigua
129 Oxford St, Lynn
(781) 584-8240

Casa Antigua on Urbanspoon


Lunch in Lynn: Mexican Mulitas at Lupita Restaurant

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Lupita Restaurant, Lynn, Mexican | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ever since we started the Dish, we’ve had the idea to do a “Lunch in Lynn” series to explore the plethora of ethnic eateries there, so when Corey Jackson of Downtown Lynn wanted company for lunch, I was all for it.

Our destination was Lupita Restaurant, the new location opened by the owners of Tacos Lupita, also on Monroe Street. The interior is bright and open, and the décor leaves no question that you are in a Mexican restaurant.

After perusing the extensive menu, we ordered at the counter and then found a table. We had just started to chat and sip our Mexican sodas, (I tried the Boing! Mango, which was awesome) when the server brought our food.

Billed as appetizers on their menu, both the pupusa ($2) and the mulita ($4) are hearty enough to have been my entire lunch. The pupusa revueltas, the smaller of the two, was a thick corn tortilla stuffed with queso and a mix of ground pork and beans served with a tangy cabbage slaw and salsa. While tasty, I preferred the mulita al pastor (shown at left), a sandwich of two grilled corn tortillas filled with roast pork (al pastor means “shepherd style,” from a rotisserie) cheese, beans, and lettuce. It had a unique savory rich mix of tastes that I really enjoyed and will definitely return for.

We also tried a carne asada burrito ($6), which was packed full of meat, beans, and rice. The flavor of the grilled beef was quite good, but I was stuffed after the mulita, and most of the burrito came home with me for the next day’s lunch.

My dining companion went all out and ordered a specialty plate, which featured breaded and fried steak (similar to the mudiga steak found in Gloucester) served with rice and beans and a salad with nice chunks of fresh avocado. As artery threatening as it sounds, it was delicious, the meat tender and flavorful.

Lupita is a great place for lunch, especially if you’re on a budget. The food is tasty and served quickly, and the portions are a bargain at these prices. Corey tells me they are waiting on a liquor license that could make them a great cheap eats destination for dinner as well as lunch.

While Lynn perennially suffers from a bad reputation, much is changing in the downtown area, and interesting things are starting to happen both in the arts and the food scene. The  available variety of ethnic cuisine alone is worth venture over the border.

Lupita Restaurant
22 Monroe Street, Lynn
(781) 599-3004

Lupita Restaurant on Urbanspoon