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'Ix' Brings Taste of Guatemala to Empty Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Cafe

 From left to right, the proprietors of Cafe Ix, Brenda Castellanos and Jorge Cardenas, sit in front of a mural of a jaguar (for which the cafe is named) with the painting's creator, the muralist M.C.H.E.
From left to right, the proprietors of Cafe Ix, Brenda Castellanos and Jorge Cardenas, sit in front of a mural of a jaguar (for which the cafe is named) with the painting's creator, the muralist M.C.H.E.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDENS — A bit of Guatemala is on its way to Lincoln Road.

Cafe Ix, named for the jaguar in the Mayan calendar, is set to open within days in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, its owners said, taking over the spot recently vacated by Tip of the Tongue at 43 Lincoln Rd. near Flatbush Avenue.

The new eatery is a first for cousins Brenda Castellanos, who runs Taqueria El Patron next door, and Jorge Cardenas, a chef and musician, both of Guatemala.

Castellanos said she’s had her eye on the Tip of the Tongue location for several years and jumped at the chance to open a new cafe when it emptied out this summer around the same time Cardenas moved to New York after 17 years living in Berlin.

“I came to visit Brenda and she said ‘Yeah. We have to do that,’” he said, seated with his cousin in the cafe on Tuesday.

Now, the pair are making Ix (pronounced “eesh”) a place for “good food, coffee and cacao,” they said. That means freshly made sandwiches, small plates, lots of caffeinated drinks and real Guatemalan hot chocolate, Castellanos said, not the water and powder stuff American’s are used to.

“Our coffee is amazing — and chocolate. We drink real chocolate, not cocoa,” she said.

Both hope the shop has a global feel and gives people a sense of Guatemala’s rich culture. That lesson begins on the cafe’s back wall where they commissioned a floor-to-ceiling mural of El Gran Jaguar, a major Mayan pyramid in Guatemala, and the animal for which the restaurant is named.

“We want to represent our country,” Castellanos said.

The pair also hope to make the space a place for artists — with live music from local musicians and artwork on the walls from photographers and painters — to combine Cardenas’ two passions: food and music.

“I thought many times about New York City. For me, it is the city of gastronomy and music,” he said.

Cafe Ix will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week at 43 Lincoln Rd.