November 26, 2004
Now in its third year, Sabor Salvadoreno (translated, "Salvadoran flavor") Pupusas Factory is a tiny restaurant with a hot kitchen. But the pupusas, it turns out, are big in personality. These flat discs of cheese-filled cornmeal are made to order in several combinations of pork, cheese, chicken, zucchini, and loroco (a type of flower bud similar to capers). A side of finely shredded spicy cabbage increases the heat factor. With a diameter of about five inches, one pupusa is not enough for a meal. So go crazy and order a few. At just $1.75 to $1.95 each, you can afford to. Greasy, cheesy, and guaranteed to put you into a food coma for a few hours (that’s why I always tell people to go for the 17-inch computer monitor), it’s comfort food El Salvador-style, and people love it.
Sabor Salvadoreno also offers several Salvadoran specialties, like yuca frita, a starchy potato-like vegetable that’s fried to a golden crisp. However, Sabor’s version has spent too much time in the deep fryer, making it a poor choice for food fights. It comes with stringy yet flavorful bits of pork ($7.25). Chicken tamales are made from creamy cornmeal and filled with dark meat and a smattering of green beans. They are wrapped in banana leaves instead of the corn husks and come two per order ($4.95). Put them on your to-do list.
Empanadas de leche are made from plantains, which give these egg-shaped packages a sweet and sour flavor ($3.25). The inside is creamy and sweet. You can also get these with frijoles, or beans, instead of cream. If you really want to go bananas on a Friday afternoon (and who doesn’t?), order the platanos fritos crema y frijoles-a plateful of fried plantains with Salvadoran cream and smooth refried beans ($4.95).
For a sweet finish, try the horchata salvadorena, which is a special Salvadoran version of the Mexican rice-water drink that adds cinnamon, sesame, and ground cacao ($2.50). Mine came lukewarm, but I enjoyed it anyway.
In addition to the Salvadoran plates, the menu also sports a handful of Mexican entrees, like burritos and quesadillas. However, stick with the Salvadorans. Together with the collage of photos and maps of El Salvador paneling the walls, they’ll make you feel like you’ve really entered the land of the pupusas.
From journal Restaurants in Silicon Valley