Monday, February 27, 2017

La Antigua of yesteryear

Back in the 80s, La Antigua was a rather different place...everything on a much smaller scale. For the visitor there was only a handful of restaurants to frequent and bars to prop up. 

The ‘in’ place was Mistral with its jovial French Canadian host André, situated opposite the recently restored mansion that housed Doña Luisa Xicotencatl

There was an elemental family eatery called El Cappuccino (where you couldn’t get a cuppuccino) and Welten, where you had to knock on the door and let them have a good look at you before admittance would be granted, and if you did then get in, you’d find the place full of ageing Nazis. (It’s still there, but the goose-steppers have all have died off and you can walk in wearing sandals.)

There wasn’t anywhere to eat or drink on the Parque Central. Visiting gringos went around the corner to Mio Cid for their Gallos or the slightly seedier Moscas y Miel, run by an old geezer from Catalunya. 

Ethnic cuisine was definitely thin on the ground. There was Zen behind the cathedral and Cactus, a much missed Mexican café. 

El Sereno hogged what counted as the high end pretty much all on its own. 

For a slice of cake, some agua de calcetín and some undisturbed hours one could head to Las Americas or La Cenicienta, then in its original location on the Calle del Arco.  

La Fonda de la Cale Real was already in situ on that famous thoroughfare, but the most interesting little hideaway was further along, close by the arch: Quesos y Vino. 

Few would probably realise now that this is one of those surviving appellations like Carphone Warehouse, which speaks to the demands of an earlier category of customer, for this little place, barely more than a hole in the wall with a pizza oven and a few stools, was seemingly the only outlet in town for those two staples of the European night out - cheese and wine. Though most of the locals came for panitos and rosa jamaica. 

You’d also have had a hard time finding a single café serving espresso-style coffee in that era, so perhaps old Viglianesi missed a trick there. 

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