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Atlacatl - Salvadorean

t
Thi N. Dec 10, 2001 01:48 PM

Lots of posts from me. I've been too busy to post but not too busy to eat lately, so I'm dumping on ye all now.

Atlacatl is on Beverly, north side of the street, between Vermont and Normandie. Salvadorean place, and it just makes me happy. This is important to know. It is crowded, tons of families, almost all Salvadorean, and everyone I've taken there has just been immediately *happy*, even before the food gets there. I don't know why. The place feels sweet.

Food: the papusas are the best I've had in LA. (Once or twice they've been soggy, the rest of the time, perfect.) Large, thick, chewy-on-the-inside kind of dense corn pancakes stuffed with cheese and whatever else you want. A vague relation of the sope, completely unlike anything tortilla-ish. Note: at the end of the menu is a *rice* papusa. I'd never had one. They're very excellent - this crunchy, roasted rice flavor on the outside, and a kind of gelatinous inside that's a bit like mochi and all its variants. Topped with the sour cabbage stuff on the side of the table, it's lovely.

The food is, in general, straightforward, uncomplicated, and very good. Lots of strange texture combinations that I love.

Things I've had and liked:

Chimuenga or Chaimanetuera or... er... nevermind. Translated as "marriage" of beans and rice. It is a kind of intensely mixed rice and bean stuff, served with thick, chewy sopes, fresh firm farmer's cheese, and fresh unsour cream. The cream and cheese have really clean, fresh flavors. I don't know why this is so good, I can't really say anything about the flavors, but I've ordered this everytime and lots of people sort of just inhale it, though some are put off.

Chilaques. This is a dish of very beautifully stewed, sweet, caramelized plaintains and sweet potatoes, served witih some kind of fried doughball and some hot corn soup, which I don't really know what to do with but enjoy dipping the other stuff in. This is my favorite thing there. The plaintains are *deep*.

Fried Yuca and Chicarrones. This is *hardcore*. The chicaronnes - fried hunks of pork skin and the flesh right below it - are really dense, really salty, really *satisfying*. The yuca is like the best french fry ever - large, meaty, dense, with barely any flavor at all. A really strange and delightful experience. This dish scares a lot of people, but I like it. Only when I'm in the mood to be tough, though.

The tamales are uniformly terrible.

-thi

  1. f
    frank Dec 10, 2001 03:12 PM

    atlacatl!!!...a great place for pupusas!!!..they are large and cheap..and best of all fresh and tasty..ive had both the queso-cheese and the revueltas-which is a mixture of chicharron and cheese-i think..the curtido is a mixture of vinegary slaw that comes with the order of pupusas...and its all you can eat slaw..i heap mounds of it on as i find the acidity and slight bite of the cabbage to be a nice contrast to the warm masa dough and the filling....the place is great because it will serve you a large meal in a comfy environment for the dollar bills left over from cheetahs the night before..just kidding-its a bad joke...thi.....fyi..the beans and rice thing is called casamiento which means marriage....grilled meats are good too.....yeah..and the tamales are water logged and soggy...but thats kinda the style of some salvadorean tamales anyway...and they have beer too..bye bye

    1 Reply
    1. re: frank
      t
      Thi N. Dec 10, 2001 03:34 PM

      Yeah, I forgot to mention - cheap. Like Frank says.

      The last time I was there, we had a feast with 6 people - appetizers, corn drinks, everything - and I think the total bill came out to, er, $7 a person.

      We thought we had the wrong check.

      -thi

    2. s
      SKU Dec 10, 2001 05:52 PM

      "The tamales are uniformly terrible."

      Do you mean the Salvadoran tamales or tamales de elote. I dislike Salvadoran style tamales (the banana leaf wrapped with olives, chicken, etc.) so I don't order them, but I think Atlcatl makes a mean tamale de elote (available steamed or deep fried). Sweet, fresh and dense...terrific with plenty of cream and their great refried black beans.

      Have you ever had the pupusas at Los Churros on Century in Inglewood? I think they're better than Atlcatl's (which are quite good).

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