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[PDX] Salvadoran y afternoon of gluttony

Nick | Oct 26, 200302:27 AM

So, we're in town to do some shopping before our trip to Mexico and see the Chinese Garden while the weather is unseasonably nice and we haven't eaten. After the garden we head over to Ken's Bakery. I've just eaten the bread, not the pastries or anything else. My wife gets a pear almondine tart, I believe, and I get their hazelnut (espresso?) macaroon. Both were very good, I think. The tart grew on me since it's a subtle pastry. The macaroon was a lot of flavor and actually reminded me of a similar mignardis I enjoyed at the French Laundry.

So then we go take some stuff back to Cost Plus and I decide to go look at Phil's and Elephant's. Note that cheeses seem much higher than their equivalents at Whole Foods or Pasta Works and don't get anything, though the smell of some Indian-spiced bread or soup cooking in Elephant's was fabulous. Got a couple pepperoni sticks at Phil's while I looked at the meats. They had NY Prime that looked awesome -- impressively marbled, for the same price as their nice choice, about $15/lb. If I were going straight home....I noticed they had Kobe burgers, too, for I think about $9/lb.

Next we go to sell some books at Powell's, get our pittance and once again feel rejected as more than half our box must be hauled back up to our car. To make us feel better, as I trudge up the stairs with the books, my wife runs across to Mio Gelato and grabs us a couple cups of ice cream. She got tangerine and tiramisu (I know, weird combo) and got me caramel and espresso. Yum. I think their espresso is a little strong, and had some iciness this time, but all three of the others were divine.

Now it's time to head home, we think, with just a quick stop at Wal-Mart (is that possible?) to pick up some travel necessities. Across 84, down to Foster, and up to Wal-Mart. So, we're inside getting an underwater camera, mini shampoos, extra strength anti-perspirant, and Immodium AD (this is tropical Mexico afterall), and mi esposa needs snack. Uruapan's close by, I think, I would have liked to go there anyway. So we check out and head down. But I decide to go down Foster to the other location I'd heard about. We never find that, but pass by several Russian restaurants (anybody try any of these Russian restaurants popping up all over town), a couple Mexican taquerias, and a Salvadoran place.

After hitting Powell, we turn around and decide to give the Salvadoran place, La Santaneca, a try. It's somewhat of a dive, but does take credit cards. They have the menu split into Salvadoran, Mexican, and Specialty dishes, along with soups, side orders, and other smaller categories. They have some good looking items throghout, including huaraches on the Mexican side, something difficult to find even at most taquerias. The prices are a bit high for the level of cooking that it looks like we'd get. Average price is probably $9 for a plate that includes a main dish, beans, rice, and tortillas. Since we're not too hungry and I mainly want some pupusas (on the side orders), we get a soup (still $8, I think) 3 pupusas with different fillings ($1.69 each) and an empenada. They give you free chips and salsa which aren't great, but aren't bad and are made inhouse at least.

The soup was large, as expected. Probably larger than most bowls of pho. The broth was wonderful. 3rd world cultures know how to do broths. I generally don't order brothy soups. I prefer soups with big flavor and that usually comes with pureed soups. But this was great. Not very clear, but a lot of flavor. The meat (it was a beef soup) was hanging on the bone still and ultra tender. There was cabbage, zucchini, and other vegetables as well. It came with corn tortillas. The pupusas were about 5 or 6 inches each in diameter and filled with cheese, cheese and beans, and cheese and spinach. They weren't great pupusas, but they were pretty good. I love flatbreads of all kind and pupusas are an wonderful exemplar, even merely decent ones are good. The empenada, however, was something special, I think. It's greasy as all hell on the outside and looks burnt, but isn't. It's light in texture with a creamy filling with the unmistakeable flavor of plaintains (or subtle banana). I think lemon maybe, too. Very interesting flavor. It wasn't that big, but it was quite tasty. My wife loved it.

So my wife eats half the empenada, half the pupusas, and some chips and she's full after only eating a few bites of the soup. The broth is wonderful, though, and it's paid for, so I just keep eating, and eating, eating. I'm very full. We leave quite contento.

But Foster's onramp to 205 North is closed and I go past the interstate to turn around and come back and go up 82nd so I can get on the freeway at Powell. But I never get that far. About 50 yards past the light probably is a sign that says TACOS on a chain link fence and in front of someone's house in the dark is a florescent light shining down on a taco stand that looks like it just dropped out the sky, transported from DF like the tardis through time. I gotta stop. So I whip around to the next one way, go back past the interstate again, whip around again back onto Foster heading east and pull into the driveway. They were out of some other meat they had, but in Spanglish the tacodero and I finally agree on two tacos de adovada (all they had) one with green and one with red salsa for a dollar each. Everything looked made fresh. The meat was a little dry, but it tasted good and the salsas were excellent.

Pues, estoy hasta arriba y muy, muy gordo....y contento.

Any suggestions for more Salvadoran places to try would be greatly appreciated. Love to hit another before Mexico.

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