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El Pajonal Salvadoran Restaurant

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El Pajonal Salvadoran Restaurant

lil mikey | Oct 14, 2005 12:20 PM

I’ve walked by this place many times, and so I finally decided to try it.

There’s a yellow-striped awning out front along with their specials on a board (complete with pictures for the Spanish-handicapped like me). Inside it’s very clean and welcoming. The people are really nice.

There was a Spanish soap opera on TV, and I just love watching these. Between the bad acting, the totally goofball sets (cutting from the swimming pool to the bedroom to a random street scene) and the unbelievable type-casting (ALL the women have large breasts and most of the men have totally ripped muscles and mustaches), I just can't get enough of these.

Anyway, everyone there was speaking Spanish except me. The waitress was fairly conversant in English, though, so I was eventually able to order through a combination of my broken Spanish and pointing at pictures on the menu. There are English translations on the menu, but I was trying to ask her what was the best dish.

As it turns out, she pointed me not to the pupusas (of which there are 8 variations on the menu), but rather the combination plate, which I think was called the churroco plate.

Once I ordered, she brought out some chips and salsa and told me it would be about 15 minutes. I personally don’t mind waiting for my food, within reason, if I know how long it’s going to be. So this was a very nice touch that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.

When it did finally come out, it was a largish plate filled with different stuff.

My favorite was the grilled merguez sausage. It was really flavorful, and had a nice charred crust. Inside it was tender and spiced to my taste.

I also liked the shrimp. There were two large whole shrimps, with peel and tail still on, that were butterflied and grilled. I normally don’t like the hassle of having to unpeel cooked shrimp, but in this case I was glad it was prepared this way, as the peel imparts a wonderful flavor when grilled.

There was also a large piece of marinated skirt steak that had been grilled to the point that it was cooked, but still tender. I think the marinade contributed to its tenderness.

The fried quarter chicken was tasty, but a little dry. It was a breast and a wing, and the spicing was perfect. There wasn’t any batter or anything like that, just a nice flavor imparted by the rub. A little Tapatio sauce solved the dryness problem.

The rice and beans were mixed together, and they had a nice, fresh flavor. On the side of the dish was a pile of iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, some radish slices, a wedge of lime and a huge slice of avocado that was perfectly ripe and flavorful.

It was served with what were obviously handmade tortillas, if you could call them that. They looked more like pupusas, but there was no filling. They were about 5” across, and thick. So you kind of have to tear off a piece to wrap it around some meat. It’s too thick to wrap the whole thing around some filling. They were very corny-tasting.

During the course of my ordering, waiting and then eating, the very gracious waitress was always available and stopped by often to refill my water.

The meal was about $10 before tip. A good value in my mind.

On their business card it says “Venga y Disfrute de la major comida salvadorena en todos Los Angeles” and also “Eventos deportivos via satellite y cable” I think that means “Come and Enjoy the best Salvadoran food in Los Angeles” and “Sports events via satellite and cable”.

It’s very good food, so I wouldn’t dismiss the first statement out of hand. And I’m quite sure the sports events will be enjoyed in Spanish. I’m definitely going back to this place soon.

El Pajonal
1133 N. Vermont (1/2 block north of Santa Monica)
Los Angeles
(323) 668-0517

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