Take me to your torta

The murals alone are worth a peek inside Asi Es Mi Tierra.

The murals alone are worth a peek inside Asi Es Mi Tierra.

Photo by David Robert

The murals were what drew us in. That and the fact that it wasn’t merely Mexican fare, but also Salvadorian. Unfamiliar with the cuisine of El Salvador (for the geographically naïve, that means two countries south of Mexico), the idea that things could get more interesting than enchiladas, burritos, tacos and nachos whipped my taste buds into a nervous and eager frenzy. New food invites visions of resentful stomachs and irritable bowels. Yet, there is also the possibility of it becoming my favorite new chow.

The outer walls and windows of Asi Es Mi Tierra Restaurant are painted with murals depicting Mexican, or perhaps Salvadorian, countrysides. In one, a man with a sombrero pulled over his face sleeps. In another, a woman puts dough in an oven. The inside murals were even more impressive.

“Wow,” my friend Terina visiting from out of town said. “You can tell that somebody put lots of thought and effort into this place.”

Our waiter came to take our order. Communication barriers aside, we managed to get everything we wanted without any trouble. The old “give the number and point” method worked pretty well.

“El numero doce, por favor,” I said. Our server peeked over my shoulder to be clear on what I was pointing to. I double checked that there was no meat in the dish: “No hay carne, verdad?”

Terina and I both ordered tortas, Mexican burgers. A new Mexican food item for me. I had La Migra ($4.29), which consisted of fluffy, crispy bread, avocado, tomato, mayonnaise and lettuce. It was like a BLT without bacon, rich and crunchy. Terina chose—at my request that she eat something different than me, thus forsaking her vegetarianism—the Oscar de la Hoya ($4.29). A winning name for a winning torta, consisting of the same stuff as mine, plus juicy and savory chicken.

For my bebido, I ordered liquado de chocolate con banana ($2.50), a chocolate banana shake with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The cinnamon made this drink doubly yummy. Terina, who is much more amenable to beer than the last time I saw her, ordered a Pacifico ($3).

“Y dos aguas, por favor.”

“I always feel like a jerk when I try to speak Spanish to natural speakers,” I said.

“I know,” said Terina. “At least we’re not frat boys in Tijuana trying to pick up prostitutes.”

Yeah, at least.

We were enjoying our sandwiches, which crumbled apart in a pleasant way, when we decided to try a Salvadorian staple, the pupusa ($1.25): refried beans with cheese, sandwiched between fried flatbread, accompanied by a cabbage condiment. I loved it, and there were no tummy aches following its ingestion.

As we were leaving, we ran into an old high school friend—a worldly sort of guy who is often found traveling Spanish-speaking countries. He suggested that next time we try the tamales de elote con crema ($2). Tamales with corn and cream, he said, are a Salvadorian to-die-for.

“Word on the street is that this is the best Salvadorian place in town,” he said.

No quarrel there. It was certainly the best Salvadorian place I’d been.