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Salvadoran Tamal Negotiations at Express Liquor & Deli (San Francisco)


Restaurants & Bars

Salvadoran Tamal Negotiations at Express Liquor & Deli (San Francisco)

Melanie Wong | Jun 19, 2011 06:20 PM

Reports are up for last week’s chowdown at Dong Bei Mama and the after-chowdown at D & A Cafe. Here’s one for the pre-chowdown find.

Express Liquor & Deli shares the block with DBM. I snagged a parking space in front and noticed a transfer of liquor license posted and the sidewalk sign offering Salvadoran tamales, tortas, and pupusas. So of course I had to go inside to check out the little deli. Inside a freshly painted and brightly lit interior with a menu board overhead offered typical sandwiches, plus the Salvadoran food. Stacks of pupusas and tamales double wrapped in banana leaves and paper, red salsa in little containers, and a tub of curtido in the refrigerator case looked pretty fresh, that is, not dried out.

I asked the friendly Latino employee manning the counter who made the Salvadoran food. He said that one of his family members did and then started the hard sell. I begged off saying that I already had dinner plans and would return another time to try the tamales. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and said that I really should have one before dinner. I headed for the door. Then he made another offer, saying I could have one for only $2.00 instead of the usual $2.99 price. Sold! I asked him to wrap up a vegetarian one for me to reheat at home along with the orange-red tomato sauce simmering in a crockpot. He promised me that I’d be back after tasting the tamal.

Saturday morning I unwrapped the tamal and poured the tomato sauce over, then reheated it in the toaster oven. This made a fine breakfast. The silky smooth strained masa had a stripe of brick-colored bean puree (made from kidney beans?) and layers of green leafy vegetable that might be spinach. The masa was nicely seasoned and the very clean and fresh tasting tomato sauce was good to the last drop. I had also asked to try the red salsa served with the pupusas, and this had some kick to it, a good addition if you need some firepower.

So, I’ll say he was right. I would definitely try a tamal again and maybe try some of the meated ones too. While I have an aversion to pre-cooked pupusas, I’m starting to regret that I didn’t pick up one ($2.49) to try. Who knows what kind of discount I could have bargained for?

Dong Bei Mama
4737 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

Express Liquor & Deli
4715 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

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