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Restaurants & Bars 2

nice cheap Salvadoran place in Echo Park (longish)

Emmy | Sep 11, 200409:20 PM

I wanted to tell people about a good Salvadoran place in Echo Park, Café La Paz, on Echo Park Ave just north of Sunset. (I also mentioned this in a letter to the LA Times about some places that didn't make it into Valli Herman's recent piece about Echo Park.)

Café La Paz is not much to look at, but the food is good, it's cheap, and the family who runs it seems nice. (Only some of them speak English.) I'm a regular take-out customer.

The pricing is a little confusing, but cheap enough so I don't mind. There's a slightly cheaper, shorter take-out menu (combinations about $6-7), which I think corresponds to the Mon-Thurs specials hanging above the counter, and a more elaborate (weekend?) menu (entrees about a dollar more). The space is basic - somewhat drafty and cavernous, enlivened by posters, decorations, and a jukebox. I generally get things to go.

The food is good cheap home-style cooking -- mostly Salvadoran, with some Mexican. So far I've only had things from the take-out menu. I like their pupusas; their curtido is more interesting than some I've had.

As for the combinations, I like the pollo guisado (stewed chicken), the pollo encebollado (chicken with onions and tomato), and the mojarra frita (deep-fried whole tilapia). The beans and rice are good. Sometimes they've given me macaroni salad instead of green salad, so now I always specify green salad (just lettuce, tomato, and avocado). I find the food a little salty, but no more so than at similar places.

I haven't tried the fish fillet, the beef dishes, the stuffed things (chile relleno, stuffed squash, stuffed pacaya), or the Salvadoran breakfast items.

Recently I had their empanadas de leche. I've never had these before. They were delicious and decadent: three ovals of sweetened plantain puree filled with rice/milk mixture, deep-fried so the plantain becomes dark reddish brown, in a little syrup.

Lots of Salvadoran places are good - at least in Los Angeles, the community and culture don't seem to lend themselves to bad cooking - but this is my current cheap local favorite.

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