For me, it all started with a tuna sandwich. There was a time (pre-mortgage and pre-children ) that I lived just round the corner from Anton's and was as comfortable there as in my own dining room. Anton's has been deservedly rewarded with many years of success on Father Griffin Road. Simple food and excellent value for money explains why it has so many regular customers, and has been part of the neighbourhood's life for so long. It is a mighty achievement for a modestly sized restaurant that is always busy and bustling. This little cafe is big on taste. The formula is simple and has stood the test of time, unpretentious and uncomplicated cooking that has charmed customers year after year.
The café has a pretty outdoor seating section, while inside the walls are painted in restful colours and often hung with local artists' exhibitions — a lovely space with character and energy. You will find a blend of bohemian types, students, and suited and booted business people. It has long been a Galway favourite for a healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes, or granola with yoghurt. The emphasis is on fuelling up rather than frying up. It is very popular also for a mid-morning catch up over coffee and cake with scones, muffins, and indulgent homemade desserts made fresh daily.
Anton's specialises in wholesome yet scrumptious lunchtime food, with tasty, generous, sandwiches and salads. A good sandwich always has to start with good bread, and the focaccia and brown bread on the menu is certainly that, baked fresh in the kitchen each morning and preservative-free. It fills up quickly for lunch, so sneak in early to be sure of getting a table. Failing that, all the lunchtime fare is available to take away.
The specials change daily and are listed on the blackboard. On a recent return visit I was sorely tempted to try the steak sandwich on focaccia bread with horseradish cream cheese, or the cherry tomato and spinach fritatta. In the end we stuck mostly to the house menu, as I just had to have the famous Red Hot Tuna — as good as I remembered it, made to order, fairly big, and definitely delicious. There are about five salads available, ranging from smoked chicken with apricot and pistachio nuts to mozzarella, avocado, and tomato with a basil oil — though it is a tough call to pick one over another. My go-to is always the goat's cheese one. An amazing house dressing arrives in a ceramic pot to anoint your dish with as much or as little as suits you. We, of course, have lots. All salads and sandwiches, hot or cold, are priced very reasonably. You can accompany your meal with the soup of the day for not much more.
There are also the in-house bakes to consider, maybe a gluten-free brownie, chocolate muffin, mixed berry and almond tartlet, or banana bread could be available. Anton's manages to be homely, comforting, and cute with considerable style. If you are looking to find a new old place to eat, look no further. The only danger is that you will end up like all of the other regulars — making a habit of it.
Anton's Cafe, 12 Father Griffin Road, Galway. Tel: (091 ) 582 067.