>> Las Tunas Restaurant | Eat the World NYC

24 June 2019

Las Tunas Restaurant


For the international holidaymaker, Playa Las Tunas in the far southeastern region known as Playas Negras, the sands and sea are probably too mundane to create any interest. As the name of the larger region suggests, these are not white sand beaches and have thus not attracted large investment. The Pacific Coast of El Salvador has a beach for any attitude and budget, and Las Tunas remains a haven for Salvadorans wanting to spend time at the sea, eat some terrific seafood, and do it all with limited resources.

For this reason, it was one of the most memorable spots from a slow-paced trip to the country over ten years ago. Souvenir shops and seafood shacks were focused on middle class Salvadorans bringing their families, prices were great, and there was always an extra warm welcome for the tourist from New York City that seemingly stumbled accidentally into town.

Pre-meal snack of fried tortillas with beans and cheese.

Las Tunas is the type of place that is kept in the front of memories of a country that nowadays is spoken about through the prism of outside news and horrific stories. It was these recollections of smiling faces and friendly folks that made Las Tunas Restaurant so appealing and worth a visit to Hempstead, a city about an hour away on the Long Island Rail Road.

Hempstead is known for a large Central American population, which might be most obvious at their annual Central American parade on September 15th that celebrates the independence of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Over 10,000 people attend this event, many coming from further out on Long Island and Suffolk County.

There is a suggestion of these other nations on the awning of Las Tunas, with a map and flags of the region, but besides some baleadas the menu focuses on the food of El Salvador.

Surrounded by big and bright windows with blue and white curtains and tables that replicate the colors of the flag, an order of pupusas (above) was the highlight of the meal. Always economical, these were even more so than places back in New York City, the corn versions (right) sold for just $2. Pupusas cannot be premade, so you always know it will be fresh. This makes the low prices even more of a head-scratcher, and I wonder when the day will come that Salvadoran chefs will be able to charge what they truly deserve.

Pupusas made from rice flour (left) come with a 50 cent surcharge but are not as good. Any future visits will stick to the corn flour versions, which they do very well.

Despite being 90 minutes into the afternoon, this meal was the first of the day and so a plate of fried plantains with cream (above), usually a breakfast item, was also ordered.

The menu is generous with plates of meat, rice, and beans, served Central American style with avocado and cheese, but on this day there were 25 kilometers to go by foot so the meal was kept "light."

Las Tunas Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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