If you are like me you know as much about the nation of El Salvador as you do about cricket; mainly, that it exists and you don't have anything bad to say about it. Of course, you don't have anything good to say either - it just is.
A nation roughly the size of New Jersey, El Salvador is on the Pacific side of Central America, just south of Guatemala. If you want to know more than that, go to the experts (that's somewhat of a joke, but you know...if you see it on the internet, it must be true).
Now all of that is well and good - but I'm more concerned with the food. Knowing nothing about the nation I had no idea, so when Wifey found this place called Sabor Salvadoreno in Beaverton and suggested we try it, both of us really had no idea what to expect. I mean, seriously - what is it?
As it turns out Salvadoran food isn't too far off from Mexican - and it's pretty dang good. We decided to hit this place up last weekend for lunch. It's not much to look at - probably not the place you bring a date you are trying to impress. However, everyone there was very friendly, there was a soccer game on TV in Spanish, and it seemed a little homey.
As usual we ordered a few different things to share, to get a feel for the flavors.
The first item was an order of pupusas revueltas. No, I didn't know what a pupusa was either - had to look it up. The one we ordered was stuffed with pork (chicharron), beans, and cheese. It was pretty dang tasty - which is good, since this is one of their specialities. They are pretty inexpensive too, I think it was just a couple dollars. The dough was light enough and the filling had nice flavor.
We also ordered a chicken tamale. Now, I've had tamales before and never really liked them. Not sure why, they just have always seemed to lack any real flavor. Not true with this one. It is cooked in a banana leaf - not sure if that makes a difference - and the tamale itself was extremely moist, flavored with the chicken meat and some peppers. I surprised myself by really liking this.
The third item was the desayunos salvadorenos - a typical Salvadoran breakfast. This was comprised of some scrambled eggs, refried beans, a sour cream-like crema, and fried bananas. The eggs were eggs, but with the salsa they provided added to them they were very good. The beans were good as well, not the stuff you get at bad Mexican restaurants to be sure. The bananas were also good - very sweet - but I admit that eating an entire banana (quartered) after being fried, that was a bit much. Banana overload because the frying seems to really bring out the sweet. It also came with a side of toast that was actually a miniature loaf of pretty flavorless bread. Overall, a good dish - minus the bread.
We followed all of this up with an order of empanadas. These ones were filled with something kind of creamy but not liquidy (the menu called it "milk product" - whatever that means) - if that makes any sense, and - and were made with plantain, then rolled in sugar after being deep fried. After eating them we were pretty sure they made FROM plantain, not WITH plantain. I'd never eaten a plantain before, but these were pretty good, a distinctively different taste from a banana. We both liked them, so if nothing else we might have something else to add to the shopping list.
For me it was banana/plantain overload, almost to the point of nausea. Of course, that's not their fault - we ordered the stuff. Overall everything was very good and the service was great - plus our entire bill, with tip, came to only $18 - so I think this is a place we'll go back to, perhaps trying one of the meat dishes to see what else Salvadoran food is about. I'd recommend it.