The perfect snack

Steffany Montes prepares pupusas for the grill at Restaurante Yesenia.

Steffany Montes prepares pupusas for the grill at Restaurante Yesenia.

Photo By Allison Young

Restaurante Yesenia is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

I recently moved across town. Moving is not fun for me for a couple of reasons: 1) I’m very lazy, and 2) I have no friends—well, at least not friends who would help me move. Therefore, I went down to Galletti and picked up a couple of day laborers to help me out. Jorge and Fernando were hardworking people so in addition to the pay, I offered to buy them lunch. They had me drop them off at Restaurante Yesenia, a small Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant in a strip mall on Moana. I vowed to come back on a day when I didn’t have to drive a U-Haul. I recently had a chance to make good on that promise when my friend Tim and I grabbed lunch here.

Inside, Restaurante Yesenia is large, clean and a bit sparse. We were there at a strange time, so we had the place to ourselves. The very friendly owner, Danny, greeted us and told us to sit wherever we liked. We had been doing some yard work, so were in need of some cervezas. Danny brought us a Tecate and Modello ($3.50) along with some chilled glasses. All right! We sipped our cold beers while we looked over the Salvadoran and Mexican dishes available ranging from plantains to chiles rellenos. The menu isn’t huge, but there are enough delicious sounding choices that you won’t go hungry.

I have never had pupusas before, so we decided to order a couple to start ($1.79 each). We could hear the maize being pounded in the back, which I took as a good sign for fresh food. When the pupusas arrived, I set to work on the round maize pancake filled with beans, cheese and chicharron (pork). I don’t know why it has taken me so long to try pupusas because they are honestly the perfect snack. Everything melts together and the maize pancake is light and crisp. The restaurant offers a pickled relish that added a nice tangy crunch to the pupusas. Danny told us that they will make pupusas with just about anything you want, and mentioned some different types such as jalapeños, chicken and steak. I want to come back and try one of every kind he will make me.

In addition to the pupusas, I ordered the gorditas and sope combo plate ($6.99), with asada, while Tim went with the taco combo plate ($6.99) with carnitas. What struck me first about both plates was the amount of meat on them. They do not mess around at Restaurante Yesenia. My gordita was crammed full of asada, cheese, lettuce, tomato and some Mexican sour cream. The shell was crunchy and light, which was a nice contrast to the sope, which had a thick, doughy bottom. Like the gordita, the sope was piled high with marinated asada. Tim’s taco combo plate arrived with three tacos crammed full of smoky carnitas. Everything tasted great, including the side of rice and beans.

So, it looks like not only do I owe Jorge and Fernando major thanks for moving all my crap but also a heartfelt gracias for introducing me to what is now my new favorite Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant. The food is incredible, the prices are low and the service is friendly. I can’t wait to make another trip back to try out some different varieties of the pupusas, not to mention the plantain sundae Danny is working on.