A funny thing happened on my way to check out a Mexican restaurant the other day. I saw one of those A-Frame advertising boards for on Willow Pass Road across from Todos Santos Plaza. Having spent no time in an El Salvadoran restaurant, I saw this a sign from the food gods that I should try this place out instead of my original destination.
The restaurant —which you enter from the back parking lot—is plainly appointed with maps of El Salvador posted on several wall areas. We were instantly greeted and seated at a table underneath the big screen TV. So far it was all somewhat kitschy. A basket of good tortilla chips and standard salsa got the meal rolling while we looked over the menu.
For a starter, we opted for the Pupusas. An order comes with two Pupusas served up with a peppery cole slaw. The doughy concoctions were nicely grilled on the outside and stuffed with fried pork, cheese and beans. These are a something you could eat for days. They’re like a quesadilla pie. The other appetizers on the menu incorporate Yucca Root, plantains, pork, and vegetables in the for mof mini half moon pies, or pastelitos, empanadas and tamales. Pan con Gallina is French bread stuffed with chicken, cucumber, tomatoes and cabbage. Interesting and recommended. If you’re not sure which appetizer to order, try the Plato Tipico which gives you one each of five items.
I had hoped to try the beef tripe soup, but they happened to have been out of it that day. The chipilin soup, though was an acceptable alternative. Chipilin is a leafy green native to Central American and Southern Mexico. It is high in iron, calcium and beta carotene much like spinach and taste similarly to it. It is in a delicious broth that is worth the soup in and of itself. There are a few squash pieces, onions and tomatoes in the soup and the interesting ingredient, two poached eggs. Unfortunately the eggs were over cooked. This is a technical glitch more than a defect. If they add the egg at the end of the cooking process and just before serving, the runny poached egg would make for an incredible finish.
The Pollo Asado brings a half chicken to the table served with a cooling salad, refried beans and rice. I was more adventurous and went with the Lengua Guisada, or beef tongue in a red sauce with grilled onions. The meat was so tender and well prepared that it melted in my mouth. For the un-indoctrinated, beef tongue tastes like lamb shank when prepared properly. It comes with the same sides as the Pollo Asado.
The Fajitas de Pollo, (chicken fajitas) don’t come on some fiery steel plate or smoking from the fire, but prepared as a simple dish with the same sides as with the other dishes. However, this is some of the best chicken in a fajita dish I’ve ever tried. The meat is seasoned with lime, chile powder, and a few other secret ingredients that give it a unique flavor and you a satisfied feeling. Most dishes also come with thick doughy tortillas, the same kind that are stuffed with cheese, fried pork and beans for the pupusas.
The menu is diverse enough to meet most desires and include chicken, beef and seafood versions of the various preparations. Try the Plato Salvadoreno and get a bit of all of three and sausage.
These are great flavors and hearty dishes that are sure to please and keep you coming back. They also serve breakfast from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily and if you happen to be tripping the light fantastic on a Saturday night and need some nourishment, Restaurante El Salvador is open until 2 a.m..
Restaurante El Salvador
2118 Willow Pass Road, Suite 300
Concord, CA 94520
Sun., Mon., Wed., and Fri.—10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sat. —10 a.m to 2 a.m.