Casa Antigua is located at 422 Finnie Flat Road in Camp Verde. For more information, call 928-567-6300.
Although Casa Antigua has moved to a new location,
© Paul Markow
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it remains a place where hungry patrons can enjoy
delicious Mexican food at equally palatable prices.
By Leah Duran
Camp Verde Four years ago, Casa Antigua opened its doors in a two-story building that once served as a saloon and bordello, and later as the Montezuma Inn. The restaurant, of course, wasn't anything like a cathouse, but it was just as popular, and quickly became known as a place where hungry patrons could enjoy delicious Mexican food at great prices. Although the restaurant recently moved to new digs — a hideaway storefront at the east end of the Bashas' shopping center — the allure remains the same.
It all begins with owner Jose Rivas and his wife, Floridalma. They're hands-on hosts. In fact, don't be surprised if Jose personally mixes you a margarita and serves you dinner. "You don't enjoy just the food, but the atmosphere," he says. "It's a good feeling in here."
Rivas, who had never owned a business and has never set foot in Mexico, stumbled upon the restaurant's original location by chance while visiting a friend. Within a month, he bought the property, moved from Chicago and revamped the menu. He also changed the name. Casa Antigua, or "old house," commemorates the original restaurant's history while also honoring a city (Antigua) in Rivas' birthplace of Guatemala, a country he regards as his "old home."
As he did with the restaurant's name, Rivas put a lot of thought into his menu. "For every item we have, there are different tastes," Rivas says. "You can tell right away, and I think that's authentic Mexican food."
Start with the self-serve chips and salsa in an old-fashioned cart that trusts the customer to "take only what you need." The thick, golden crisps are fried on-site and pair perfectly with all three flavors of homemade salsa. Wash them down with "the coldest beer in Arizona" from a bottle wearing a necklace of thick frost.
Casa Antigua features daily specials like Taco Tuesday, when tacos cost $1. Rivas labels himself as curious, which might explain the potato taco, an uncanny but satisfying mix of french fries, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. Other house favorites include enchiladas and chimichangas. (Psst: If you ask nicely, you can get the latter filled with fish, even though it's not on the menu.)
Rivas prides himself not only on service, but also on freshly made dishes like the Seven Seas Soup. This legendary hangover cure includes a nutritious mix of scallops, octopus and calamari sure to please your palate and your wallet.
"My work is to make you happy," Rivas says. "I want to make sure that every customer who comes here is going to come back."
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