San Salvador brings a taste of Central America to the Northwest

One variety of the pupusas at San Salvador.
Bill Hughes

Months ago, a 4-year-old local Salvadoran and Mexican restaurant called San Salvador opened a new Northwest location in a tiny, unassuming neighborhood strip mall. It’s a good thing, too, because this part of Vegas is hurting for good, cheap ethnic eats. The place is a little divey, and there’s a cartoonish portrait still painted on the wall from when it was a straight-up Mexican joint called Mr. Jalapeño, but the food is soulful and satisfying.

Although the tortas and burritos are tempting, skip the standard Mexican fare and opt for simple, hearty Salvadoran stuff instead. The most obvious dishes are pupusas, thick handmade corn tortillas stuffed with your choice of fillings, and yuca frita, fried cassava root served with a pickled cabbage salad and chunks of fried pork. Both are tasty choices here. I adore yuca, big wedges of crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside, potato-like goodness.

The Details

San Salvador
6651 Smoke Ranch Road, 638-1509
Mon-Sat, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sun, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This food can get pretty heavy, and there are lots of meaty variations on this traditional cuisine at San Salvador. There’s a spicy version of beef machaca with fried shredded beef, tomatoes and onions; breaded steak milanesa; beef tongue; chicken; shrimp and a spicy fried take on the Caribbean fish known as mojarra. For something a bit lighter, try salpicón, tender shredded beef with onions, citrus, mint and radish. Close out your meal with the naturally sweet and rich, crispy and chewy empanadas de plátano, fried plantain fritters. They’re a perfect complement to all San Salvador’s savory treats, and just one of the reasons why we’re glad this isn’t just a Mexican restaurant anymore.

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Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for more than 15 years. He currently covers entertainment, music, nightlife, food ...

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