You could speed right through the Broad River section of Norwalk and not even know Antojos was there. Being from Norwalk, and still residing here, I pride myself on knowing what’s in the area, but this small Colombian restaurant that opened last December was off my radar until recently. If not for a couple of friends—both of whom are Colombian—who posted mouthwatering photos and their own rave reviews of Antojos, I still might not have noticed Antojos as it sits in the corner of one of New Canaan Avenue’s strip malls, in the space that was formerly Lou’s Pizza.
Antojos is a small spot, with seating for maybe 25 customers. There’s booth seating on one side of each table, with cushy pillows for added back comfort, and chairs on the other side for non-booth loving people. Also, there’s a wooden bin of silverware on each table, so you won’t have to bother asking for an extra fork or spoon should you require a fresh one, or for sharing purposes. Walk in, have a seat, and you’ll promptly be greeted with fast, friendly service.
There’s no alcohol offered at Antojos, so begin your order with an agua fresca, a refreshing blended fruit beverage with water and moderate sugar, or have one with milk for a creamier, milkshake-like drink. If you’re into something very different, try a salpicón, fresh fruits (pineapple, grapes, bananas, papaya, mangos, apples, cantaloupe, watermelon) blended with fruit punch, and additions of condensed milk, vanilla ice cream, mozzarella, and coconut shavings. It’s sweet, you can taste every fruity, sweet, milky, cheesy layer, but you should absolutely treat yourself and get one!
For food choices, Antojos offers lots of comforting, guilty pleasures. I like the mixed order of empanadas (two beef, two shredded chicken) packed into a golden pocket and deep fried, but not super greasy. They come with a trio of sauces (hot sauce, a creamy green avocado sauce, and their house sauce that includes ketchup and mayo, like a burger spread) for your own exploratory purposes. As much as I enjoyed their empanadas, I fell head over heels for their papas rellenas, a seasoned, deep fried potato ball, with a center that’s packed with tender, shredded beef. I envision these for takeout when it’s a slow Friday night, and I have a beer by my side.
Antojos’ Colombian comfort food rounds out with a variety of customizable arepas with a bunch of meat and veggie options to choose from, and a few of their own creations like the Hawaiian with either sweet & sour pork or shredded chicken, or another with shrimp and garlic sauce, resting on a crispy fried corn cake. I’d recommend the hot dog, aka, perro. It’s a long, bacon-wrapped dog, that’s a sweet, salty, creamy, flavor explosion as it’s topped with coleslaw, melted cheese, pineapple sauce, the previously mentioned house ketchup/mayo sauce, crushed potato chips, and a hard-boiled quail egg, placed in the middle for a halfway done treat. There are other versions of this in case you want to swap out the beef hot dog for shredded chicken or beef, or chorizo sausage.
Another not to be missed food thing, is dubbed the “Burgeton,” a sandwich comprised of seasoned, shredded beef, melted cheese, lettuce and tomato, avocado sauce and house sauce, fresh avocado, and two big, but thinly sliced fried sweet plantains as the “bun.” It’s sloppy, but in the best way possible, and they don’t skimp on the sauces and meat. That’s your next cheat day, all figured out.
If an authentic experience is what you seek, look in the direction of Antojos’ signature dish, and one that’s common in Colombian culture, paisa patacon. This hearty, plentiful dish is made up of beans in a Colombian-creole sauce, chorizo, and pork belly, topped with a fried egg and slices of avocado. The paisa is easily enough for two (or more) people but if the kids aren’t feeling it, or the other offerings, Antojos does have a burger and a hot dog with fries, but there’s a possibility your little ones will go for the basket of fries and sliced hot dogs with a hard-boiled quail egg on top, called salchipapas.
One downside for me is that Antojos doesn’t have dessert, something I hope will change soon. The other? Now all of you all know about this hidden gem, so it may not be as easy for me to pop in when I need a fix. Oh well, sharing is caring. I’ll see you there!
115 New Canaan Ave, Norwalk
(203) 857-1888; https://www.antojoscafe.com/