El Sabor de Mi Tierra: Salvadoran tastes

Salvadoran tastes

El Sabor de Mi Tierra: In October drinking horchata
Photo: Rachel Côté

El Sabor de Mi Tierra offers homemade dishes and drinks native to El Salvador

When looking for El Sabor de Mi Tierra, you’ll first see the giant word "Pupusas," which dwarfs the restaurant’s name on the front. Inside, ascend stairs to enter a small, neat space, attractively decked out in wood. Above shine compact fluorescent light bulbs in different, jolly colours (alas, the Christmas lights around the room’s perimeter weren’t on for lunchtime). Maps of El Salvador and other Latin decorations orient the palate southward to Central America.

Everything is made in house, the owner assured us. Even the regular-sounding items on the trilingual menu will taste different, she said, because of her own Salvadoran spin. As we hemmed and hawed over the menu, she recommended the fried manioc and pork as a good starter to share.

A golden heap of deep-fried strips of the tuber appeared, with nuggets of deep-fried pork around them, topped with a modest amount of coleslaw and sliced veg. A thin tomato sauce on the side was for dipping. Though the pork was on the chewy and dry side, the manioc fries were beautifully crisp and an appealing deep yellow.

We chose two homemade drinks, a rice-based horchata and a cotton-candy pink cebeda made from barley and hops. At first sip, the sweetness rendered them similar, but then the subtlety of the horchata emerged. I detected cacao, scant cinnamon, and what I thought was brown sugar but turned out to be honey. The owner explained that she grinds and toasts the ingredients, including sesame and peanut, making a subtler and more complex horchata than I’m used to. The cebeda had a hint of sourness behind the sugar.

Time for pupusas, the thick white corn tortillas that are filled with beans, cheese, meat and the like, native to El Salvador. We had a plump revueltas, with beans and gooey melted cheese, and another stuffed with cheese and chopped-up stalks and buds of a green called loroco. The taste was mild, but not merely for background interest – I’d have to sample it in greater quantities to get a handle on the flavour. At just above $2, these are great snacks or light lunches in themselves.

We shared a chicken leg that had an alluring slightly sour spice coating with a yellowish cast. With the accompanying rice, mustardy coleslaw, salad and tortillas, this hearty meal was a steal for under $10. I can only imagine that the mixed grill platter could feed a family. This is a great spot for fuelling up and saving money to fortify yourself for the main purpose of Chabanel Street, shopping.

El Sabor de Mi Tierra
70 Chabanel West, 514-303-0240
Meal for two: $20-$35

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