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But Atlakats version plump, juicy, with a finessed touch of the griddle bears little comparison to the less generously filled and more seriously grilled pupusas served at this 5-year-old, freestanding building on Oakland Park Boulevard. Moliendas smaller, six-inch patty of corn masa also seems slightly shrunken beside the larger disk served at Atlakat.
La Moliendas pupusas have their fans too, of course. If the preferences of native sons carry any weight, a quartet of decidedly Central American house painters who sat near me on my last visit were devouring their pupusas revueltas as if it were their last supper. Fingers grabbed urgently at the sections of corn patties stuffed with a flavorful mixture of beans and shredded pork.
La Molienda (the mill) was once a fast-food restaurant. This conversion hasnt taken quite as convincingly as, say, that of Saint Paul or, for that matter, Jimmy Carter.
No need to expect high style in a place that serves $9 (on average) entrées. Certainly, owner Rolando Dallegos is operating on a no-frills budget. But the restrooms are clean, the service is friendly, the u-shaped bar in the back sports some nice South American varietals, and the 15 or so tables were crowded on the night we were there, the diners hard at work perfecting the art of the sobremesa.
And the food is, at the least, decent and sometimes more than that. (Its much more authentic than the décor.) Portions of almost anything you order from the extensive seven-page menu would please Bluto.
Unsurprisingly, corn shows up in many other dishes, like the Salvadoran chicken tamales ($2 each), in which corn meal is steamed in green husks to an almost soufflé-like consistency. Youll also find corn in the soups, such as sopa de res ($5), a sumptuous beef broth containing a huge knob of beef on the bone along with green beans, potatoes, onion, and cross sections of corn on the cob.
The grilled meats and poultry at La Molienda can hold their heads high when compared to those of Atlakats. And the prices are similar. The bistec salvadoreño ($7.25) was a surprise: medium rare, juicy, and well-complemented with spice.
For dessert, skip the flan or trés leches ($2.50) and choose the nuegados ($1.75 for two), yucca pancakes drenched in caramel sauce (or Mrs. Butterworths?) that passes as the Salvadoran version of French toast.
I left La Molienda satisfied, if not overwhelmed.