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Restaurants & Bars 1

Lunch at Mi Cafetal

Amata and Antonius | May 14, 200404:38 PM

About a month ago, Mugs posted a query about Mi Cafetal, a Mexican cafe on 18th St. Amata popped into the place for two minutes, got a menu, and responded as much as possible based on that brief encounter. Today, however, the two of us finally got over there to try their food for lunch.

Mi Cafetal is a small place in the basement of the building just west of Nuevo Leon. Half of the menu is espresso drinks, smoothies, etc; the other half has a few food selections. Although the menu is limited, everything seems to be homemade with great care. We both started with the tortilla soup, which was excellent: not picante at all but served with a salsa on the side to spice up to your taste. Besides tortilla pieces the soup contained tomato, celery, onion, garlic, and was garnished with a couple large totopos half submerged in the soup and drizzled with a little crema. Antonius followed the soup with a roast pork sandwich. It was served on a telera roll with avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, strips of jalapeños, and cheese – very tasty. Amata had two tamales, one chicken in salsa verde, the other pork in salsa roja. The pork tamal was excellent, the chicken one nearly as good (a bit drier than the pork one), and the crema served on the side enhanced both. Mercedes, the owner, told us that her cousin makes the tamales and the desserts (which we didn’t sample), and her husband makes the roast pork.

Amata also had an exceptionally good agua de jamaica made with strawberry and lime – much less sweet than what one usually finds. (Alas, no Mexican coke…) We didn’t try any coffee drinks on this visit.

Mercedes, the owner, is extremely friendly and enthusiastic about their food, and we ended up spending a long time chatting with her. (We were the only customers for most of the time we were there.) She was delighted that we were using our not-always-perfect Spanish – her English may have been more limited than our Spanish. Mercedes and her husband, Raul, are from Leon, Guanajuato, have lived in Pilsen for 35 years, and just opened this café last June. Mercedes seems passionate not only about the quality of her food but also about the community of Pilsen and promoting Mexican culture. The café has works by local artists on the walls, and on Fridays they have live music, with everyone singing along, according to Mercedes. They are about to expand their menu to include at least sopa de pollo and a sandwich with chorizo in the style of Guanajuato.

In short, Mi Cafetal is a lovely spot: immaculately clean, cozy, tranquil, with some comfortable couches as well as little tables and internet stations (and outdoor tables on sunny days). It’s a place we hope can thrive, with its sweet owners who care very much about preparing excellent, simple foods.

Amata and Antonius

Mi Cafetal
1519 W. 18th Street
312 738-2883

7 am – 10:30 pm M-Th
7 am – 11 pm F
8 am – 10 pm Sat
9 am – 9 pm Sun


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