Papuseria Salvordenas Chowdown Report (SR)
Just returned from another fantastic Chowdown organized and attended by our awesome Northbay hounds and families and I had a great time!
With the memory fresh in my mind here is my report!
Stephanie and I both enjoyed a Horchata - El Salvador style while we waited for the rest of the group to join us.
I really(!) liked this drink which I am pretty certain was housemade and possessed kind of an earthier quality then the typical bone white concoctions. THe wonderful cinnamony sentiment had settled to the bottom - which we stirred up and drunk down.
EN ordered pretty much "one of everything" of the antojito menu as well as a Salpicon (shredded cold beef salad with mint) which was an excellent choice condsidering the temperature, still air (and no ac).
>> Tamal de Elote:
Sweet Corn Tamal - not bad - but I was kind of put off by what looked like mayo instead of crema. I tried some on my slice -thought "what the heck" - I guess it works in a pinch...not sure though.... I like the DE truck's uchepo a lot better.
>> Tamal de Gallina
A solid bannana leaf salvadoran tamal - moist, achiote shredded chicken bits of green bean potato.
>>Empanada de Platano con Crema y Frijol
Custard stuffed and a black bean stuffed plantain fritter. The exterior possessed a sweet crispness which gave way to a moist, soft interior. The custard was good but - I liked the more savory black bean version.
Little meat filled empanadas which EN said had achiote mixes into the batter - hence the red color. They were delicious but I wish the filling had more of an aggresive flavor.
I really hoped that this dish would have been better. No shredded beef - just minced almout ground beef-esque bits. No lively mint backround- more of an afterthought. Needed much more lime juice and perhaps some chile powder. It was ok with the addition of acidity provided by the curtido and or salsas. I think a sweet red or yellow onion would have worked better than the plain jane white onion dice.
>> Papusas (Squash, Mixed and ???)
BEST dish on the table. Just go get one.
No soul to this one. The hot tamales curtido is like crack and beats this one no question - I believe because they use fresh oregeno and maybe some chiles.
>> Chilate con nuegados (Yuca fritters in syrup with atol-esque side drink, sauce)
I had reservations about this dish because I am not to keen on syrup drenched desserts but this was very delicate. Thin, crisp yuca fritters (almost like tostones) in a light caramel sauce with this lovely presented atol drink to pour over. Great dish.
My assessement is fairly similar to yours with a few comments:
> Their salpicon is probably the worst I've ever had... I could almost bet the meat had been frozen (I made the baby some slow cooked, chopped meat & froze it... and then upon defrosting it, it had the same texture as this one). There was no mint, no chiles, no citrus, no flavor... prettly bland.
> The pupusas were very, very good... I specially liked the gooey, creamy, green one? Was the creamed spinach in there?
> The plaintain empanadas with beans were nice... although I think they could have used more garlic in the beans.
> The Nuegados were surprisingly good... I never really dug them back in L.A. but this version is quite nice... specially if you just have a few bits. The drawback of sharing is that there was only one bowl of Chilate to sip... and I did'nt want to stick my face in there... so I didn't get to sample the pairing... but it looked good.
> The red salsa was very good this time... no ketchup! Although quite a bit spicy for Salvadoran cuisine.
Thanks to the other chowhounds & families who joined me for lunch at Pupuseria Salvadorena. Rather than repeat what KR & EN wrote, I'll fill in some blanks for folks who are interested in the restaurant, but wonder what it's all about.
I did like the salpicon, but had no prior experience to compare the taste. Like KR, I like chiles, herbs and citrus paired with meat. Knowing that the meat could be better and the flavors ratcheted up make me curious to find other versions of the salad.
As mentioned, we were battling the heat - over 90 degrees - so a "snack-like" meal of antojitos with a side of Salpicon fit the day. Still pupusas work on cold days too.
For those unfamiliar with pupusas, they are about a 5" round disc of corn meal filled with different stuffings and grilled (not fried). We had five types - the Revuelta (chicharron/pork and cheese), Frijoles/beans and cheese, plain cheese, squash and cheese and cheese with loroco flower. The green filling that EN referred to was probably the loroco which is a mild herb...although it could have been grated squash. All were $1.75 except the cheese with loroco which was $2.
Pupusas are served with Curtido, a "coleslaw" of shredded cabbage with mild chiles and oregano. It's reminiscent of the Korean kimchee (cabbage & chile), but is milder, crisper and not fermented. I do like more oregano than was offered here...the pupusas are a bit bland and want to soak up the curtido flavors. EN noted that Salvadoran food isn't particularly spicy...he did ask for two types of salsa, which I forgot to try.
The empanadas are deep fried, not baked. The ones made of plantain lack any wheat dough - in fact menu is mostly gluten-free and has many near-vegetarian options (I'm unsure of beans and kitchen practices like a grill shared with meat).
The pasteles resemble Indian samosas in size & shape, but were bright red from achiote (aka annatto - a coloring agent made from seeds and used in cheeses & butter).
Antojitos are priced from $1.50 to $5, with most around $2. There are also breakfast choices - about $5 for a full plate. Dinner runs about $6 (salpicon) to $10 (fried tilapia).
We did tax the kitchen a bit - ordering a dozen dishes. They ran out of plates and cutlery. I ended up eating with a plastic fork - just like my first visit there. :)
Open 9 AM to 8 PM Tuesday through Sunday. BTW, KR reported that dinner lines are out the door.
re: Stephanie Sugars
The best part of the lunch was the company!
Not to say the food wasn't good. My favorites were the pasteles, but I agree with KR that a touch more kick would have been nice. It brought back strong memories of similar empanada-like treats that the Colombians eat.
Sad to say, I didn't even try the salpicon. There were so many other goodies, and it unfortunately did not look very appetizing.
I actually really liked the tamal de elote. EN let me know that it was made with fresh corn rather than masa, and that made it moist and naturally sweet.
The tamal de gallina was tasty. Nice flavor & moist. Since we have to be gluten-free at home, I wanted to point out that this is a good option for those who have to worry about that. There were quite a few choices for me to get to-go for the hubby.
Overall, I thought it was a good deal, the waitress was very nice, and it is good choice for something different in Santa Rosa. It's not full of shiny silverware and or cloth napkins, but I think we need more options for simply delicious food without the frills. Beware though - no A/C.
FireEscape, I would have sent this to you via private email but I didn't see one in your ChowProfile. (: To keep up with local north bay chowdowns in the future (or even to suggest your own!) please check out the North Bay Chowdown mailing list and join in! http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nbchowdown