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Report: Chirilagua Deli - Alexandria, VA

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Report: Chirilagua Deli - Alexandria, VA

John Galt | Feb 3, 2004 08:14 AM

Chirilagua is a city in El Salvador. Immigrants from El Salvador have adopted the name "Chirilagua" for the area of Northern Alexandria near where Glebe Road meets Mount Vernon Avenue (aka "Arlandria" b/c of its proximity to Arlington). So, as well as being in El Salvador, "Chirilagua" is also just north of Del Ray.

The Chirilagua Deli is tiny take-out spin-off of a Hispanic grocery store next door. There are no seats, and the no-frills atmosphere would entice some as much as it might deter others.

The woman behind the counter did not speak English, and, rather than parsing my attempts at Spanish, she raced behind a wall to retrieve a young man (perhaps the manager?) who spoke fluent English, and was eager to help.

The pupusa ($1.50) was a perfectly respectable version. The traditional accompaniment, curtido (cabbage slaw), was appropriately vinegary. I could have used some hot sauce to liven the flavors.

As taquerias often do, the Chirilagua Deli wraps its tacos in two layers of tortillas. The tortillas were not house made, but adequate nonetheless. I tried a plate of three ($5.99). I enjoyed all three, but would not recommend a major detour for any of them, as they all would have benefited from livelier flavors. Cilantro wouldn't hurt.

The chicken version used stewed chicken from a steam table. Neither terribly inspiring nor terribly disappointing.

The beef version used steak grilled to order. The tasty char did its best to rescue the steak from its major flaw: excessive chewiness. This flaw made it the taco difficult to eat.

I liked the lengua version best, but that may say more about my own preference for the style than it says about Chirilagua's execution. I like lengua tacos, and these were just fine.

Other notable menu items were a beef soup, fried fish, and the popular yuca con chicharron.

I'll be back for sure, but I won't rush.

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