A Special Restaurant in La Antigua, Guatemala
La Antigua or “Antigua” attracts world travelers and tourists alike which means there is a wide variety of dining options in this colonial destination in the central highlands of Guatemala. Among those choices is a very special restaurant called 39 Azul opened by a Norwegian chef by the name of Nils Rykken who looks like the twin brother of Mario Batali, crocs and all. The name of the restaurant reflects the address – 6.a Calle Poniente 39 – and the overriding color scheme of the restaurant, which is blue, a color often associated with the Norwegians or the Danish. But, the food is the star at 39 Azul – locally sourced ingredients expertly prepared with both a Norwegian and an international touch.
39 Azul is centrally located just a few blocks from the plaza in a beautifully restored colonial building. Walk into the “lobby” – a cobblestone entryway – and be greeted by jacket clad men who will guide guests to a table in one of the several dining rooms surrounding a beautiful garden. There is also a bar in the central garden area that serves both drinks and food.
The menu is extensive with both lunch and dinner options. During lunch, a wide variety of open-faced sandwiches are offered including the “Fiskefilet” – breaded and lightly pan-fried filets of sole accompanied by typical Danish tartar sauce and the “Pariserboef” – a seasoned handmade hamburger patty served with a mayo-based tartar sauce and topped with an egg that is best enjoyed with an ice-cold beer.
Main menu options, offered for both lunch and dinner are generally (“generally” because the menu does change) divided into 8 categories: starters (Salmon Tartare, Calamari, Norwegian Herring, Foie Gras, Chicken Liver Mousse), cold soups (White Garlic, Mango, or Strawberry), hot soups (Onion, Lobster Bisque, Cream of Watercress and Gorgonzola, Fish and Shellfish Broth, Cream of Chanterelle), salads (a variety with an international emphasis – Caesar, Organic, French, British, and Norwegian), fish Salmon, Sole, Snook, Shrimp, Lobster, and more), meat (Beef, Pork, Chicken), pasta (Rigatoni or Linguine cooked with olive oil, garlic, and white wine), and desserts (Souffle – made to order, Flan, Sorbet, and more)although the menu is ever-changing based on the availability of ingredients, especially fresh fish of which the restaurant is well-known for.
Camerones Grandes al ajo con papas (pictured above) – Jumbo Shrimp in garlic with potatoes (fried or mashed) or mixed vegetables – are cooked with olive oil, butter, and garlic – moist, succulent and absolutely delicious. The french fries are fresh and homemade with a slightly crispy exterior and earthy potato flavor.
The “Ensalada 39 Azul” is the restaurant’s signature salad made with a variety of greens topped with caramelized onions, tomato, gorgonzola cheese, and crispy bacon all gently tossed in a vinaigrette but the “Ensalada Londres” – the London Salad – is a popular lunch or dinner salad with mixed greens topped with avocado, crispy bacon, and shrimp and gently tossed in a very light vinaigrette.
39 Azul also has an extensive wine and beer list to pair with the various menu options. Prices are reasonable by American standards with dinner entrees priced at 75 – 175 quetzals ($10 – $22). Lunch entrees are considerably less expensive. Service (10%) is included in the bill.
The restaurant is open everyday except Wednesday serving lunch from 12:30 – 3:00 pm and dinner from 7:00 – 11:00 pm. For reservations or more information on the menu, go to the restaurant website listed below.
6.a Calle Poniente 39
La Antigua, Guatemala
Reservations: 5580 3000 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org