I’m no expert on authentic regional cuisine, but when I hear about a place that has a reputation for such, I like to give it a try. One such place is Mercadito Latino, an El Salvadoran restaurant on Sargent Avenue, not far from where I live.
This is one of those places that I really should have visited much earlier than I did. However, I’m glad that I’ve since corrected that error.
Walking in to the restaurant, you find a few tables set up, along with a rather large service bar. Along the far wall and one side wall, there is a selection of Latin American food specialties for sale.
The one thing that really caught my eye is the wonderful selection of hot sauces that are available. The picture below displays only a small fraction of the sauces available.
Supper at Mercadito Latino
All my visits to the restaurant have been for supper. Two of the three were towards the end of the day, when there were only a few customers around. Dishes are not particularly cheap, and by the time you combine them into a meal, it may set you back a little bit. That said, if you aren’t overly hungry you can still put together a decent meal at a reasonable price.
My first visit, I went all out. I ordered a single pupusa, a single Tamal de Pollo, Sopa Tortilla, and Yuca con Chicharron. The dishes are all good, but the standout is the Sopa Tortilla. The broth is rich, and there is lots of chicken throughout. The tortilla spears make for fun eating as well. I went with boiled cassava in my Yuca con Chicharron, preferring to the mashed potato type texture to a fried option. The Chicharron itself was nicely chewy. I enjoyed the Tamal and Pupusa, both being well prepared. The Pupusa Tamal I received on this visit seemed to be a little low on filling.
On this occasion I also ordered dessert. It isn’t currently on the menu, but it is a round wafer, filled with jam and topped with strawberries and whipped cream. The wafer is light and crispy, and the strawberries and whipped cream added a light, fruity, touch.
When I visited the second time, I limited myself to two items. I went again for the Sopa tortilla, and added an order of beef tacos. There are four tacos per order. They are made with the small tortillas, but all come with plenty of beef and other toppings. The beef was well cooked and seasoned and they were absolutely delicious.
Having been a few weeks between the first visits and sitting down to write. I put in another visit just a couple of days ago. This time I ordered a single Tamal de Pollo, an Enchilada, and once again the Sopa Tortilla. This time around there was much more filling in the Tamal. The Enchilada was good and crunchy with a well-seasoned set of toppings. The soup of course, was good as always.
Everything at Mercadito Latino is made from scratch. This means that you may have to wait a little while to enjoy your food. Fortunately the food is very much worth the wait. The owner is very friendly and the atmosphere is laid back and relaxed.
The tables come with hot sauce to add to any of your dishes. You can also purchase them from the market area, along with Jarritos and other Latin American specialty beverages. Mercadito Latino is a place I will find myself wandering down to, when I’m looking for a nice, relaxed and very good tasting dinner.