Unassuming Salvadorian Street Eats in Manhattan
So don’t expect pretensions at La CabaÃ?Â±a SalvadoreÃ?Â±a. The waitresses are sweet and amiable, but you will need to exercise your Spanish vocabulary or do a good charade to communicate well with them. DÃ?Â©cor is utilitarian and pleasant, glass tops deep red cloths on the tables, and mirrored walls make the small dining area feel a bit roomier. A local artists’ paintings brighten other walls.
Depending on when you visit, the restaurant can seem a prayerful quiet church or festive party. I went one day between lunch and dinnertime and peacefully ate my bowl of sopa de pollo with large chunks of carrots, potato, yucca, and chicken on the bone. A squeeze of the juice from a lime wedge and a dash of Tabasco brought the dish alive like an actor on the stage. It’s heat and tangy and salty flavors blended to make the perfect dish on a cold winter’s day. A steaming-warm, fresh corn tortilla completed the hearty, fulfilling meal.
Prime mealtimes at La CabaÃ?Â±a SalvadoreÃ?Â±a are lively and fun. Tables are filled with families and friends, their conversations contend with loud jukebox tunes or sometimes a live singer performing ballads to recorded instrumental music.
On a recent Sunday night with friends I shared a special holiday platter of seven traditional Salvadorian street treats. The open-faced fried enchiladas were my favorite, one topped with stewed chicken, the other with beef, they both had a sprinkling of a
complimentary white cheese. The pupusas are must-tries, thick cornmeal tortillas with black beans, mild white cheese or shredded pork. Grilled until warmed and lightly brown, they are best with the flavorful curtido, a Salvadorian-style sauerkraut, and a dollop of sour cream. The atole de elote, a mildly sweet corn dessert tamale, reminds me of Indian rice puddings and how they magically calm the palette after a spicy meal.
There’s much more good food to try at La CabaÃ?Â±a SalvadoreÃ?Â±a. Husband and wife owners Pedro and Juana Lozano also serve a wide selection of seafood, chicken, fish and pork entrees and soups, several typical Salvadorian egg and bean dishes, and they round out an already bountiful menu with a small selection of wines, beers, and fruit shakes and juices. The establishment’s tasty and inexpensive fare makes regulars of new customers quickly.
La CabaÃ?Â±a SalvadoreÃ?Â±a
4384 Broadway at 187th Street
Monday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday through Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.