When I think of El Salvador now, I totally think of pupusas. Not that I really think about El Salvador all that much but now I can’t disassociate the two, but that’s okay because pupusas are DELICIOUS. More on those later. Let’s get on with the review!
Jake and I recently visited the other El Salvadorean restaurant in San Diego, appropriately called Restaurante El Salvadoreno.
[ensalada / 16oz for $2 or 32oz for $4]
I started off with an Ensalada drink. Whenever I see “ensalada” I think salad… and well, it’s sort of like a fruit salad but in beverage form. This one is based with pineapple juice and has mostly little chunks of pineapple and orange in it. The fruit is chopped small enough so it comes up through the straw, though you still have to chew a little bit. It’s got a nice sweet flavor. This one is a little heavy on the pineapple, I would have liked to see more of a mix of different fruits. Jake and I both thought this kind of tasted like Pineapple Upside Down cake, but in liquid format.
This is a complementary salsa-type condiment. We thought maybe since we got this we’d get some chips or something, but no such luck. I used it with my pupusas, it has a slightly spicy flavor.
[tamal de elote + crema / $3.50]
I discovered at the other El Salvador restaurant that I did not like their style of stuffed tamales, but I really liked the corn tamale so I tried that here as well. This one has no filling and very small bits of corn throughout the tamale. It’s on the sweeter side – kind of like a really moist cornbread. Maybe that’s why I like ordering it so much – it reminds me of cornbread! We got this with crema, and really I mostly just used the crema for my pupusas instead since I preferred to have the tamale plain. Jake liked it with the crema though, it added a bit of zing.
[side of beans & rice]
It doesn’t really feel like a meal unless you add in beans and rice, am I right? I don’t remember anything particularly special or outstanding about this. Heck, I don’t even remember what the price was for a side of each. Not memorable, really. It’s just something to stuff into your face to make you feel like you’re eating a somewhat well rounded meal.
[curtido – marinated cabbage condiment]
To go with your pupusas, you get this marinated, fermented cabbage condiment. I don’t like it at all. I do not let it touch my other food.
[pupuas – $2.25 each]
Pupusas are made with a thick handmade corn tortilla. They are then filled with your choice of filling. It’s sort of like a stuffed, enclosed quesadilla, but thicker.
One of the pupusas I ordered was with mushrooms and cheese. The nice thing is that no matter your filling, the price stays the same. I love the cheese used here – it’s smooth and creamy and stringy. I had not tried it with mushrooms before and I was pretty excited. The mushrooms look and taste like they are cooked first and then mixed in with the cheese.
I also ordered a pork and cheese pupusa, but ended up receiving a chicharron (pork), loroco (vine with edible flowers from El Salvador, kind of reminds me a little of green beans) and cheese one instead. I didn’t mind really since it ended up being tasty – I hadn’t tried loroco before and I was hesitant about trying it but it had a fairly mild flavor to it.
Jake ordered one with pork, beans, jalapeno, loroco and cheese and we both thought it was too much stuff for one pupusa. The flavor is kind of all over the place and you loose a little something by having so much stuffed inside. Kind of like with a pizza with too many toppings, it just becomes a little overwhelming.
The inside of the restaurant is very nice with a lot of wood paneling and these painted ceilings.
They take great care in the appearance of the restaurant – it feels like a real locally loved place.
There are a few other restaurants in far away Escondido land if you really want to do a whole tour of what’s available in San Diego. Our first taste of El Salvadorean food was at El Salvador Pupuseria if you want to compare. The food is quite good and fairly cheap and is a nice change of pace from the usual taco shops that proliferate San Diego.
Restaurante El Salvadoreno
2845 Imperial Ave.
San Diego, CA 92102