Hidden Paradise – El Salvador / San Bernardino, CA
Last weekend, Jake, T and I headed up to the mountains for a little weekend getaway. I’m skipping to the end of our trip to talk about a place we visited on the way back home called Hidden Paradise – El Salvador.
Hidden Paradise is a little restaurant tucked away in a indistinct shopping center in San Bernardino. Google Maps took us into the shopping center since that’s the official address of the restaurant, but the entrance is actually on West 3rd Street, across the street from the San Bernardino Metrolink station. You don’t see the name of the restaurant on the outside, either. It simply says “PUPUSAS” in big red letters on the front and back side of the restaurant.
It’s a cozy little place. There are about five tables inside.
Here’s the menu for Hidden Paradise. I didn’t notice at first but the nice lady behind the counter told us that they have corn pupusas and rice flour pupusas. We had never seen rice flour pupusas before so we definitely had to try those.
There was a little case full of baked goods. I wasn’t sure what any of the items were.
I was planning on going to a different place for dessert so I didn’t pick up any of these.
At the counter they had bags of homemade Plantain Chips.
These were really thin and quite crispy. We tried a few and I brought the rest home to give to my mom.
These are the condiments for the pupusas. I LOVED the red salsa. It was very much a flavor enhancer and it wasn’t spicy at all – just a really great complimentary condiment for everything we ate. There was also a cabbage coleslaw but I didn’t try it since I’m not a huge fan of cabbage.
These are the Rice Flour Pupusas [$2.75 each]. We got one with cheese and other one with bean + cheese. The texture of the rice flour pupusas are different. They were a lot chewier and not quite as tender as their corn flour counterpart.
They look very similar to the corn flour pupusas so it’s really all in the texture. I would say that the rice flour ones also tasted a little more bland.
Here are the Corn Pupusas [$2.50 each]. On these we got one with Garlic (more like garlic + cheese) and a Chorizo. I loved the garlic pupusa! The garlic was mixed in with the creamy, gooey cheese and tasted wonderful. These are a bit more tender and I prefer the texture of the corn flour. Jake really loved the chorizo here – the chorizo was definitely more like a sausage link than the crumbled up chorizo that we’re used to. More on that in a minute.
I saw “Empanadas” on the menu and figured we’d give those a shot without really thinking about how the menu said “Empanadas de Plantano”. When this plate of mini footballs arrived I questioned it a bit. They looked like they were burnt, too. What the heck did I order??
Turns out these are Fried Plantain Empanadas. You get an order of 3 for $4.75. You can choose between bean or cream filling. The outside of the empanadas is soft, warm plantains. There’s a bit of sugar on top and while it looks burnt, it doesn’t taste burnt. It tastes more like a caramelized banana on the outside. The texture is very soft, almost mushy. But the whole thing manages to hold together without falling apart so it’s not quite that soft.
Here’s the one with cream inside. Kind of similar to those Mexican empanadas at the bakery with the “cream” filling. These tasted like dessert to me since they were sweet. I don’t think I’d ever order these again since plantains are not my favorite thing on earth, but I was happy to try them out and see what they were about. Definitely not the empanadas I thought I’d be getting, that’s for sure!
Another “I wonder that is” item that we decided to try was the Choripan Sandwich [$3.50]. A choripan sandwich is a chorizo sandwich. According to Wikipedia:
“The name comes from the combination of the names of its ingredients: a grilled chorizo (sausage) and a pan (crusty bread) such as a marraqueta or baguette.”
I wanted to try it because: A) I’ve never had one before B) Jake likes chorizo C) It was cheap!
The chorizo was in a more “normal” sausage form rather than the crumbled up loose chorizo I’m more familiar with. Also, it wasn’t that spicy! There were chorizo links in the sandwich along with some coleslaw and some kind of flavorful sauce. The bread was cut a little uneven but other than that this was a really solid sandwich. It had a great mix of flavors and the bread tasted nice and fresh. I think if I hadn’t been full I would have eaten a bit more of this one!
It was great trying out a few new things at Hidden Paradise. It’s definitely a homey little mom and pop shop and I wish it were closer to us so we could stop in again more often!
Hidden Paradise – El Salvador
1184 W 2nd St.
San Bernardino, CA 92410