A Quesadilla is Not a Quesadilla at El Guanaco
A Salvadoran quesadilla isn't a tortilla filled with cheese; it's like a pancake.
Every time I eat at tiny Salvadoran restaurant El Guanaco Taqueria y Antojitos, I learn something about the country's native cuisine. Like yesterday: I took a seat at the counter facing the kitchen, and saw a basket full of what looked like huge, flat pieces of sweet potato wrapped in plastic. El Guanaco's owner Cristina Ardon explained to me what they were.
"Those are quesadillas. Basically rice flour, cheese, and a little fresh crema," Ardon told me. "In El Salvador, we eat this like Americans eat donuts."
These quesadillas were pretty different from what we typically expect
when we hear the word. Instead of being tortillas stuffed with cheese,
they're more like pancakes with cheese in the batter. Really, that's
not such a strange concept. If you've ever had a ricotta pancake, you
know how creamy and delicious they can be. This is sort of the same
Ardon's quesadillas cost just $3, so I took one to go. At her suggestion, I
ate half of it with coffee for breakfast this morning. I warmed the
quesadilla in the oven first, then took a bite. It definitely tasted
like a fluffy, well-griddled pancake -- there were crispy bits along
the edges and everything. It was sweet, but you could taste the
tanginess of the cheese and crema. Some sesame seeds on top added a
nutty, smoky flavor that went great with coffee, just like Ardon
Oakland Park made El Guanaco remove this mural.
Ardon doesn't make them every day, but you should definitely stop into
El Guanaco to grab one. The restaurant -- which we gave the award for
Best Tacos to this year -- is actually going through a really hard time
with the city of Oakland Park. The city made Ardon remove her tables
inside because it claimed she didn't have enough parking spaces. This,
despite the fact that she has 5 spaces plus a handicap spot -- and El
Guanaco only had two tables inside to begin with. Ardon also says the city forced her to paint over the sign on the side of her building and claims she needs to create a "green zone" of plants around her building or face further issues. It seems like a
strong arm move, but to what end I'm not sure. I'm going to contact Oakland Park and write more about that in the next few days.
In the mean time, get over to El Guanaco and get your quesadilla on.
El Guanaco Taqueria y Antojitos
331 NE 44th St., Oakland Park
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