A trip to Mexico is the inspiration behind a new restaurant in the town of Harrisburg.
Cafe De Olla opened today at 210 N. Third St. in the former El Rancho Restaurante & Pupuseria, just steps from the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex. Two years ago, owners Juan Castaneda and Rose Ortiz visited Oaxaca, a large state in southern Mexico.
“We were just inspired there. I feel like we wanted to bring some of that back to Harrisburg,” Ortiz said.
Their restaurant focuses on breakfast and lunch with a menu of Mexican and American dishes. Choices range from avocado toast and classic BLTs to quesadillas, enchiladas and chilaquiles, a tortilla-based dish topped with house sauce, cheese, sour cream, onions and two eggs with beans.
While in Mexico, Castaneda said he immersed himself in the culture, tastes and sites, including visiting a mezcal farm and stopping at cliffs and lakes. They also got a taste of cooking and learned how to make homemade tortillas.
“They taste much better when homemade,” Castaneda said.
After looking for a location for the restaurant, the couple said they learned of the vacancy from their friends, the owners of El Rancho. This restaurant moved earlier this year to Eisenhower Boulevard in Swatara Township.
Most Mexican recipes come from the Ortiz family. His father owned a Mexican restaurant and his grandmother lives in Mexico and makes and ships Mexican hot chocolate and mole to the restaurant.
A Cafe De Olla, a traditional spiced coffee made with cinnamon, nutmeg and cane sugar, is set to become a signature drink.
Breakfast includes authentic chilaquiles as well as egg dishes with a choice of chorizo, ham or jalapeño, tomatoes and onions. They also offer French toast, buttermilk pancakes, egg sandwiches, and yogurt parfaits. For lunch, diners can choose from enchiladas, tacos, tortas, and enmoladas as well as veggie sandwiches and spicy tomato and avocado sandwiches.
In the near future, Ortiz said he plans to expand gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian options.
The restaurant opens at 7:00 a.m. daily. It closes at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and will stay open later Friday through Sunday.