Gran Villa is very good news for Sunset Park and Brooklyn. Top-notch Salvadoran restaurants have tended to concentrate in Northern and Eastern Queens, but this steam table and full restaurant is bucking that trend, opening up amongst the auto mechanic and blue collar shops under the BQE. They also serve a full breakfast and the iconic New York bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is just as good here as it is in your favorite bodega.
A favorite take away from visits here is that it seems to be popular with families speaking English and Spanish at the same time, going between each from sentence to sentence, word to word. The lady that runs the place does the same, switching her own replies depending on whom she is speaking with. With 20 seats or so, she has a lot to handle when the place is busy, but remains consistently pleasant.
This is a non-alcoholic family friendly restaurant, but they do make some good sweet drinks if you want something other than water or soda. Besides the horchata ($3, above right), try the bright red refresco de chan ($3, above left), made from chia seeds.
My palate is equal opportunity when it comes to tamales, but many will find Salvadoran versions less enjoyable than Mexican ones, or the larger tamales found in Panamá or Colombia. Before writing them off though, try the tamal de pollo ($2.50, below), hardly much commitment. It is a bit more creamy than others, but it does the trick.
The menu is large, but pupusas are rightly focused on in their own section with 11 different options from cheese to shrimp. Most are $2.25, including our three, the revuelta (pork, beans, and cheese), loroco y queso, and chicharrón y queso. The flowers of loroco vines are worth trying, they are very common and cheap in Central America but have a distinctive taste and are an important staple in the region.
A plate of pupusas is served with curtido, pickled cabbage with vinegar and chili, as well as a thin tomato salsa that can both be used as desired.
A lot of people come in for takeout, selecting Salvadoran stews from the steam table. All of it is hearty food for hard-working people. A plate of one of their stews below, res guisado, with rice and beans comes to $9.95 and promises leftovers.
Gran Villa is close enough to Industry City that a couple smart folks who understand how terrible the food court is there walk up during lunch for a far better value. Along with the neighborhood families and nearby workers, the mix creates a dynamic atmosphere and general good vibe for all.