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Aug 3, 2006 03:32 AM

New! Platano Salvadorean in Berkeley

Tried a new Salvadorean in Berkeley: Platano, 2042 University Av.

Partially unfinished space, but the kitchen up and running.

Yucca cosida-nice size, great crispy pork, and a nice side of cabbage.

Tamales de sal- two wonderful masa tamales in a bannana leaf.

Albondigas- great taste and the sauce was home style light tomato. The meatballs with a mint overtone...just a bit dry.

Carne guisada- very soft with string-beans, potato, carrots. Like grandma would make if she was salvadorean!

Nice sides of beans and rice (red) and a simple salad.

Give it a is definitely above average, great service by a nice Slovakian student...highly recommended.

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  1. Thanks for the report. There was one previous report about the pupusas

    I was driving by it today and it really is a nice looking restaurant. Not your usual Salvadorean hole in the wall.

    If you try more, please report back. I'll try to get over there one of these days.

    1. My husband and I tried this place a couple of weeks ago. Though it was good, I don't suspect it will make it. First of all, let me say their pupusas were good, as were the platanos con crema y frijoles (fried plaintains with cream and beans), but they have a very big (and empty) restaurant to maintain. They also have some minor things that could become major for their business (i.e. their website doesn't have a phone number on it, the interior decor is classy, but the paintings are quite kitch (would work well for the hole in the wall Salvadorean restaurants I am used to, but not the high end they are going for) and then they have a minimum order amount per person for lunch and for dinner....this seems odd as it is among the throngs of cheap, yummy college food around Shattuck and University. It also seems a bit like shooting themselves in the foot, as they don't have a lot of customers yet, and it might turn people away. On the bright side, the server was very sweet and accomodating, and like I said, the food was as good as any of the delicious Salvadorean hole-in-the-wall joints we have in LA (that I feel many people don't enter because they seem too ethnic or something). Anyway, I must leave this post now, as we are in search of their phone number to get some take-out pupusas (They have 6 or 7 different kinds- I recommend the flor de loroco.) I hope the best for them, but I hope they can adjust to fit their clientel.

      5 Replies
      1. re: bellarella

        what is the minimum order amount per person?

        1. re: bellarella

          I tried this place tonight as well.

          First of all, even at 6:00 on a weeknight, the place was almost empty except for a few quiet grad student-looking types. This was true of just about every other place on the block, and I've seen the same many other nights. Can someone explain what's with the creepy funeral-parlor atmosphere at all those restaurants on that block? Walk past a strip of restaurants in downtown SF around the same time, and they'll all be packed, lively, and inviting.

          That being said, I had a good first experience with Platanos. The cheese/loroco pupusas are very flavorful (I liked them better than those at their sister restaurant Kaliente in El Sobrante), the space is nice (especially the bar in the back) and the staff is nice. I'd love to see it full and thriving one of these days.

          1. re: Agent 510

            "Can someone explain what's with the creepy funeral-parlor atmosphere at all those restaurants on that block? Walk past a strip of restaurants in downtown SF around the same time..."

            No tourists, students have gone home, cold weather keeps people away from the distant movie theaters and bars. Most places in downtown are busier at lunchtime.

            But Ryowa always seems to have a decent amount of business and Taiwan keeps at it even though it's getting more and more threadbare. The pizza place a couple doors up has changed hands several times in the past couple years, as has the sushi place across the street. How the Ghanaian place and the Tibet Cafe have survived the lean times amazes me.

            I've been to Kaliente; didn't know the two spots were related.

            1. re: Agent 510

              That part of University has been like that forever. Creepy is a good way to describe it...although it's not scary, just weird.

              What needs to happen is some urban renewal money and planning like many other run down downtowns (ex: San Jose, Mountain View, etc, etc.) which equates to better street lighting, *maybe* some outdoor dining (might not be wide enough), small store front improvement grants (paint) and some landscaping (trees and light posts) on the center medium because University is as wide as a freeway.

              In many ways what's going on in that block is the same as what's going on at upper Telegraph Ave. and partly why Cody's left. City gov has to step up. I don't see much changing however until there's some kind of wake-up call.

              1. re: ML8000

                Downtown Berkeley's had plenty of planning and spending, it's just been mostly incompetent and counterproductive.

          2. This restaurant certainly needs business--that's true. It has inherited a cavernous space that's been various Chinese restaurants. But as previous posts have said the pupusas are good and the service is good, and I'd note that the plantains are good as well.

            They had a menu on the counter from a Salvadorean restaurant in El Sobrante, on San Pablo Dam Road--I assume there's a connection.

            There ought to be a niche for this restaurant, since the nearest Salvadorean food to the south is in Fruitvale (Los Cocos) and to the north is hard by the freeway in Richmond (La Bamba, masquerading as a standard taqueria).

            1. Just wanted to give a quick update on Platanos. I've eaten there 5 or 6 times, and the food has been consistently good (sometimes very good). I stopped by at lunchtime yesterday for takeout, and picked up an order of pollo asado (grilled chicken leg/thigh) with a side of casamiento and salad, an order of platanos with beans and cream, and 1 each of the following good-sized pupusas:

              -cheese, zucchini, tomato, onion
              -pork, black beans, cheese
              -cheese and loroco
              -cheese and beans
              + a side of a sort of light cabbage slaw with vinegar

              The total was a little less than $30, and everything was really good and fresh (the chicken was a little bland for me, but was shared with an enthusiastic toddler). I noticed that the wait time had improved -- everything was ready in about 15 minutes. The food was also packed to go exceptionally well. If you like Salvadorean food, I would really encourage you to try this place.

              1. I wouldn't think papusas would travel well, but if they do that's great. What's loroco? Sorry, I'm new to this.