42A Street 454 (corner with Street 123), Phnom Penh
T: (092) 424 903
If you’re feeling peckish in the vicinity of the Russian Market, Alma Cafe is worth hunting out. A Khmer house might not be the obvious location for yummy, good value Mexican food, but the colourful poncho shows you’re in the right place.
Alma has two tables under large umbrellas on the front terrace, with a further eight tables inside surrounded by black and white prints of cacti and south of the border scenes. Owned by a Mexican and staffed by enthusiastic Khmer waiters, there’s a friendly, communal feel, and kids are welcome.
Most people go to Alma for breakfast, which is generously served until 14:00, allowing stragglers with hangovers to get their fix. The mostly $4 menu offers huevos rancheros, chorizo hash, a breakfast burrito or chilaquiles, served with a juice. Those with a sweet tooth might go for the $3 Mexican toast, battered bread pan-fried in butter and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Add a side of refried beans, chorizo, bacon or tortillas for $1.
This is no Tex-Mex fakery but honest-to-goodness Mexican mamma cooking, and you can taste the love in each dish. It’s all in the detail — tortillas are homemade not out of a packet, the salsa is created with specially roasted tomatoes and the bacon is crispy not soggy.
Lunch is served between 11:00 and 14:00 and options change daily, depending on what inspiration strikes at the market each morning. Recent specials have included tortilla soup and Quesadillas de Chorizo, each $5. Save some space for $2 housemade cakes — one serving of Kahlua chocolate cake is never enough.
Immensely popular with expats living in the area, as well as those who cross town for a brunch fix, Alma is worth locating. Despite the small size and the popularity, customers are never rushed. After all, it takes a while to make room for a second helping of dessert!
By Abigail Gilbert
Last updated on 17th October, 2015.