>> EL SALVADORin | Eat the World NYC

06 January 2020



For the past two weeks, the new Central American residents of Sunset Park have all been convening at it's newest restaurant, the oddly named EL SALVADORin, which adds a small "in" to hopefully make light of the fact that most people incorrectly say the demonym another way. But regardless of their intentions with naming, the restaurant stands as a symbol for the third wave of what makes the neighborhood.

Since the 1960's and 70's, Sunset Park saw its predominantly European immigrants replaced by Puerto Ricans, who populated the western portion of the neighborhood. A more recent wave starting in the 1980's but accelerating in the 90's saw this part become much more Mexican in nature, with families from the state of Puebla making up a big portion of new residents and business owners. Most people from other parts of the city still describe the neighborhood by these terms today.

Quietly over the past decade or so, in addition to a few restaurants here and there, Central American-owned businesses have popped up offering money transfers and other services, and almost every Mexican grocery made sure to stock the goods that Guatemalans and Salvadorans were looking for to fill their homes.

As Industry City attempts to mine the neighborhood for profit and give nothing in return except to those already privileged, Sunset Park's thriving communities continue to say no and show there is another way. EL SALVADORin is not only a bustling restaurant with an expansive menu, it stocks products from the country and coffees from the region.

Since the restaurant is very new and getting its feet underneath it still, many folks have been checking it out and bringing their families. The kitchen runs in linear order of when checks come in, so do give them some patience if you arrive just after a big group. This happened on the first two visits, but without any rush was no big deal.

Both of these meals of course required pupusas ($2.50-$3, above and below), available in almost any variety imaginable and in both corn and rice flour version. As always, these are patted out freshly to order, and arrive piping hot straight from the griddle.

Pupusa de arina de arroz.

No matter which you order, a small side of curtido, a pickled cabbage topping, and light tomato salsa will arrive along with your pupusas, a hint of how to eat them. Most Salvadorans will use each sparingly, letting the disc and its ingredients play the marquee roles, but no one is going to scold you for dumping everything on top before digging in.

As noted, the rest of the menu is ambitious and tries to offer as much from the country's cuisine as possible. Small plate appetizers, soups, large plates, and desserts all have their own section. Come in the morning to summon your true Salvi self for a cup of hot coffee and a slice of quesadilla salvadoreña, a sweet and dense cake (or is it bread?) made with cheese.

Weekend lunch time is perfect for soup options like sopa de gallina india ($13, above), a warming savory bowl full of root vegetables. You can ask for the hen to come on the side, a recommended decision that gets you a perfectly seasoned and baked leg to eat or add as desired.

Most plates will come with Salvadoran-style tortillas (seen in background of photo below), thicker than their Mexican sisters and almost like a small pupusa without fillings. These will line your stomach quickly but are a thoroughly enjoyable way to get beans and meats into your face. They come hot and fresh, but lose their character fast as they cool so start with them when attacking your meal.

Plates like salpicon de res ($14, above) are served with rice and beans or your choice of a few other sides. This "salad" of shredded beef, chopped onions, and tomatoes is served cold but perfect to wrap in those warm tortillas or simply alone with spoonfuls of rice.

Eating large pieces of meat is almost expected here based on the tables of others, whether in the form of a sandwich with thick slices of steak or chicken breast stuffed inside, or as a platter with rice and beans. Grilled shish kebab-like pinchos are a favorite, and grilled or fried whole fish can also be arranged.

In the mood for a simple plato típico on the second visit, carne asada ($14, above) worked perfectly and provided for plenty of leftovers as well. The seasoning and tenderness make sure you do not need any condiments, bites are best with or without a little rice and beans.

Many antojitos that share names with Mexican foods are found throughout the Central American isthmus, sometimes similar and sometimes very different. Flautas de pollo ($6, below) turn out to be quite similar to Mexican flautas with a thin tortilla wrapped around meat and fried very crispy.

EL SALVADORin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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  1. Good stuff. I may check it out tomorrow. Did you ever try Mama Tere Taverna?

    1. ps, forgot to log in properly. Its Ziggy

    2. I haven't... I noticed a couple modern/fusion-y things on the menu and didn't look closer. Worth it?


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