Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina | Athens, OH

December 5, 2014

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Casa Nueva (Facebook / @casanuevarest / instagram: casanuevaathens)
4 W. State St. (map it!)
Athens, OH 45701
(740) 592-2016
Open Mon-Wed, 8a-9p; Thurs & Fri, 8a-10p; Sat, 9a-10p; Sun, 9a-9p (bfast served Mon-Fri, 8a-2:30p; Sat & Sun, 9a-4p)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.

By now I’m hoping you’ve read the two installments of our trip to Athens here and here, and our visit to Donkey Coffee. We very much enjoyed our day around town. The folks from Visit Athens show us around, and of course the centerpiece of that visit… was breakfast. If there’s anything I heard about Athens – at least, when it comes to breakfast – it’s that we had to go to Casa Nueva.

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Before I begin, I need to share two observations about Casa Nueva:

1. They’ve been doing the “eat local” thing since before it was cool.

2. It wasn’t until a day or two after our visit that I realized there was no meat on the menu (hey, I never said I was a good observer). There’s plenty of soy and eggs, but for season it never occurred to me that the bacon and sausage were missing.

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Casa Nueva is a good example of the eclectic culinary mix that is Athens: a long-standing co-op restaurant focused on local sourcing sits side-by-side with college bars, coffee shops, and hot dog joints. Makes for an adventure.

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Casa is split into two major spaces. The cantina side features the bar, and when we arrived they weren’t seating anyone there. The restaurant side is further divided into two long, thin dining areas. There’s not a ton of seating, which means there’s a wait on weekends. We bided our time by walking a block over to Donkey Coffee.

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The menu runs the gamut from burritos to huevos rancheros, to pancakes and biscuits and gravy. There’s a decidedly Mexican theme, what with the huevos, enchiladas, and burritos.

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This theme is bolstered by the big list of salsas. You can start any meal with the salsa sampler. They make a good mix of ten salsas in-house, plus seasonal specials. We mixed it up with the black bean and house mild salsas, plus specials of a pumpkin fish pepper salsa (top left) and a habanero pepper onion salsa (top right). All very fresh and balanced, even when they boasted more heat.

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We tried a mix of things at the table, including simple scrambled eggs and apple cider pancakes.

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The breakfast entrees were big and colorful, and if you pick the right salsas, the meal is completely gluten free. The breakfast enchiladas mix the usual suspects: corn tortillas, eggs, black beans, cheese, and a heap of lettuce and veggies.

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The huevos rancheros were similar. I love a good huevos, and given Casa Nueva’s specialties, it was an easy choice. The loaded plate came out piping hot, with two fried eggs, soft potatoes, plus colorful cheese and veggies.

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As you might expect, they’ve got a kids menu, titled the “Little Locavore.” Points for creative choices.

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The breakfast burrito wrap is a cute little meal with eggs, cheese, and beans plus a side potatoes.

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And another picturesque pancake with sliced apples.

Conclusion: an excellent breakfast. Certainly easy to see why people have been mentioning it to me for years. Extra points for healthy and creative items, and for many options friendly to the vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free crowds.

BONUS! The folks from Visit Athens have provided five T-shirts to give away! Comment on this post with either a.) your favorite place to eat in Athens, or b.) the first place you’d like to eat in Athens, if you’ve never been. Contest ends midnight on Monday, December 8.

(This trip was provided for and hosted by the Athens County Visitors Bureau. Opinions are my own.)

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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