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Order Up: El Guanaco Taqueria y Antojitos

You've never had tortillas like the ones made at El Guanaco, the subject of this week's Dish review. They are soft, thick, and made to order, and whether filled with slow-stewed lengua or presented on the side with a bowl of oxtail stew, they're stellar. The thickness is what does it: In typical Salvadoran style, the discs of masa are about as thick as two or three ordinary tortillas stacked atop one another. They're hot and almost creamy in the center, and lovely-crisp on the outside.

El Guanaco is a cheap eatery and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the mostly blue-collar clientele that work in the area around Prospect Road. You can feast for less than 10 bucks on authentic, homemade Salvadoran food. Business is slowish at the moment, but once taco-hounds get wind of the stuff made here, I expect El Guanaco will gain a cult following.

An excerpt from the review after the cut.

I ordered two pupusas from the small window in the tinted glass counter at El Guanaco - one filled with cheese and a Central American flower bud called loroco ($2.25), and the other revueltas-style, which has smooth ground pork called chicharron inside as well as cheese and refried beans ($2.40). At first I thought the place was to-go only, but Ardon suggested I take a seat. My companion and I chose one of three tables clustered in the center of the small room, just below a television broadcasting telenovelas. We heard the gentle patting sounds of dough being formed by hand coming from the kitchen as we waited.

Within moments, the smiling hostess had brought out a platter of two pupusas sided with a cabbage and carrot slaw called curtido and a glass of cinnamon-laced horchata to wash it down ($2). I couldn't wait to get at the revueltas pupusa: It was steaming hot from the griddle, with the soft, creamy masa yielding to pungent beans and the similarly textured, intensely meaty pork. A little bowl of red tomato sauce on the side is meant to be poured over the curtido and eaten with the pupusa, adding both vegetal crunch and acidic zip.

Read the full review now in Dish.

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John Linn

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