Maybe that was sensational, but Jennifer Lopez is found in framed-autographed form ("Para Inez, con mucho carino") at El Nuevo Frutilandia on 24th St. @ Folsom. Low End Theory would rather eat with the Limster at Anh Hoang than with Mick Jagger at Slanted Door but might make an exception for a comelier pop star.
El Nuevo Frutilandia belongs in the mid-class Latina/Latino category prized by chowhounds who favour authenticity over innovation - San Miguel, Mi Lindo Peru and Mom is Cooking are sterling examples. Low End Theory is a biologist and believes that the finest dishes are subject to gradual natural selection as surely as the ability to avoid the poisonous mushrooms over there. The Puerto Rican and Cuban fare at El Nuevo Frutilandia is certainly composed of combinations that have stood the test of time. A Puerto Rican friend of Low End Theory liked the mofongo - plantains and yucca mashed up with LOTS of garlic - almost as much as Madre's, and fried things such as the pastel puertoriqueno are predictably satisfying.
Entrees - why this refers to appetisers in the British Commonwealth is mystifying - are also distinctive and tasty. Higado has a cilantro-rich sauce that is more Caribbean than the mostly Mexican fare in the 'hood and pierna is a typically Puerto Rican treatment of pork. Some pan-Latin dishes such as bistec empanizado are well-rendered, another example is bacalao stew (Friday special) which was good and salty.
Drinks One Has Never Heard Of, what a fruitful section of any menu that cries out to be explored. Bebidas at El Nuevo Frutilandia are excellent, possibly eponymous; familiar favourites like tamarindo, platano and guanabana can be had as drinks or milky shakes. Savvier chowhounds might recognise trigo by name, but Low End Theory was happy to discover that it was like drinking a toasty pulverised cereal, probably mais.
As the board has noted before, El Nuevo Frutilandia is an excellent mid-end adventure if one is wandering 24th St. hungry. You'll find the cops - San Francisco's finest dining companions? - and better values at El Farolito down the street but Low End Theory will periodically return to El Nuevo Frutilandia in hope of catching the real Ms. Lopez.
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