I had the pleasure of meeting up with a few hounds at Izalco (Roosevelt/64th St), a place I pass by a lot, but have never ventured in. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy salvadorian food, but I've been more accustomed to pupuserias where one can get a few small items and have a quick meal. Izalco is much more of a family style place. And with Sripraphai right around the corner, well, that's always been my destination around that block.
We started with pupusas and tamales from the "national dishes" menu. We ordered chicharron and cheese pupusas. The chicharron ones were very nicely flavored. The cabbage salad that accompanies the pupusas had a good spicy kick to it, and added a nice crunchy texture as well. The cheese pupusas were also enjoyable, albeit a bit overly gewy with cheese. The big surprise was the fried corn tamale with crema, which resembled a good oversized hushpuppy. It was a bit sweet, but packed a good corn flavor, and the crema dip rounded it out. The other tamal was made with chipilin which is an aromatic herb like cilantro. We didn't detect a strong aromatic flavor, or perhaps it was a little too subtle over the steamed corn masa. Not bad, but didn't seem special either. We also ordered an appetizer of chicharrons that came with thick homemade tortillas. The chicharrons were also very good, with a lot of tender meat, crunchy skin and a comfortable layer of fat. WrayB mentioned that these may be the best rendition of chicharrons he's had.
We shared a couple entree plates -- the stuffed peppers, and the fried snapper (I think it was snapper) in a creole sauce. The peppers may have been my favorite item. They were poblanos, or poblano-like peppers, and stuffed with some kind of soft white minced meat, and fried in batter. The stuffing had the texture of a crabcake, but it didn't taste fishy; we really couldn't identify it, but it was very good. It was mild for the most part, with small bursts of heat when biting through the veins or a seed or two. The red tomato-ey sauce was also a nice accompaniment, though I'm sure the stuffed peppers would have been good on their own. The snapper also came in a similar looking tomato-ey red sauce. The fish was whole and was cooked perfectly (not over or under-cooked), and the moist meat and the tomato-ey creole sauce blended nicely. The refried black beans, rice, and fried sweet bananas (don't think they were plantains) were the perfect accompaniments.
Dinner for 5 of us came to $60 with tax and tip. Not pupuseria prices, but a comfortable family style restaurant, with a friendly and welcoming staff. I'm glad to have finally ventured in to Izalco as there seems to be some good home cookin' going on in there. I'll need to explore the menu further.
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