Drove out to Hillsboro today after picking up chocolates for a PortlandFood tasting tomorrow. The plan was to have lunch at Sumatra. It was bit of a pain to find the place because of one way streets, but also because I didn't realize it would be in a house. Then when we got there, it was closed, dammit.
So we had to come up with an alternate plan and quick; my wife's blood sugar was getting low and she might execute and eat me at any moment. I was expecting to try something new, so Ochoa et al were out. We had passed a place, though, on the way that was advertising Guatamalan food, so we went back there.
It's in a small, run-down strip mall. Its sign makes no mention of Guatamalan food. They had a vinyl up on the roadside that mentioned it. It's also a panaderia and when you enter it smells great.
The menu is split between appetizers, beef dishes, seafood, seafood soups, Guatamalan appetizers, Guatamalan entrees, weekend specials, and some miscellaneous other items. Seafood items are most expensive with dishes as high as $18. (There is also a parillada de mariscos for $45, but that has several dishes.) But most items are $8 or less and servings seem generous.
We agreed to only get non-Mexican dishes and decided to taste more things by focusing on antojitos. We ordered garnachas ($3), tamal ($3), platanos fritos ($4), and pupusas ($3).
Garnachas are a dish I'm familiar with as a Yucatecan specialty similar to small sopes. Since Guatamala is close to the Yucatan, this isn't too surprising. The masa cakes for these were more disc shaped than cup shaped, but they were obviously handmade, light and crispy. There were six of them with a pile of relatively stewed meat topped by tomato sauce topped by cheese. The cheese had the texture of requeson or even a creamy feta, but the flavor of parmesan. Very interesting and together with the tomato sauce made the dish almost taste Italian. A little Tapatio fixed that. Extremely enjoyable dish.
The tamal was cooked in banana leaf and was smothered in a sweet red pepper and tomato sauce. The tamal was filled with tender, juicy, and flavorful chicken, probably poached in a yummy stock. The masa was lighter and creamier than Central American tamales often are. A very good version.
Platanos fritos (and maduros) are one of my wife's favorite dishes. We probably had them half a dozen times on our last trip to Mexico. These were served with black beans and crema. The plantains themselves were cooked until golden and sweet, but not entirely soft. Very nice and wonderful with the earthy beans and sour cream.
The pupusa was good, not overly greasy, browned in splotches, filled with cheese and pork (I would guess minced skin). On the side was a decent curtido, mostly cabbage with a little carrot, not too spicy.
Everything we had was good to very good. Dishes others were getting, such as huge caldos and chicken covered in sauces served with handmade tortillas, looked really good, too. I'd like to get back and I highly recommend this place based on my one meal. (And remember, for those that like Mexican but not capsaicin, Central American food is much milder.)
1425 SE TV Hwy
(Just east of Juan Colorado's and Guadalupe)