Thursday, October 30, 2008


[Ed. Note: This review is part of my series of reviews of brunch places that do not serve traditional brunch cuisine. The last review was of Hinode's Japanese buffet].

Washington, D.C. has the good fortune of having a large Salvadoran population. Many restaurants, particularly in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, serve excellent Mexican-Salvadoran cuisine at rock bottom prices. One of the staples of Salvadoran cuisine is the "pupusa" -- a thick circular corn tortilla filled with a variety of ingredients. The most popular one I've been told is frijoles y queso (beans and cheese), and other popular varieties are revuelta (mixed -- often with pork and cheese), loroco y queso (loroco is a vine flower bud common in Latin America), or just queso. The cheese is a soft mild white cheese. Pupusas cost about $1.50 to $2.00 each at most places and are big enough that you should have a decent meal with 2 or 3 of them.

While there are a number of excellent "pupusarias" in Mt. Pleasant, my favorite is Ercilia's. At Ercilia's you have to order at the counter from an overhead menu that is almost entirely in Spanish, though, unlike some other places in the area, the people who work there do speak English. While I've had a number of their more classic dishes such as pupusas con frijoles y queso describe above, on my most recent visit I sampled some of their more exotic dishes (at least for Americans)

The taco de lengua is a taco made of cow's tongue, avocado, queso, cilantro, tomatoes, and spices. It comes open-faced on a warm corn tortilla. Outside of perhaps a Jewish deli you don't see a lot of tongue dishes these days. It's softer that other cuts of beef and mixed with the other ingredients in the taco it was quite good.

The pupusa con loroco y queso is another unique salvadorian dish. Loroco is a soft green vine flower that tastes a little but like a cactus. It doesn't have that strong of a flavor but it accentuates the cheese nicely. It's not going to replace the frijoles y queso as the staple, but it's a good alternative.

The sopa de mariscos is, unsurprisingly, a soup with fish. It had a mildly tangy broth and had a large assortment of fish and shellfish including mussels, clams, squid, scallops, some kind of white fish, and a half of a blue crab. This was an impressive dish and I was pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of ingredients.

If you've lived in D.C. for a while and haven't been to a pupusaria I'd recommend walking up Mt. Pleasant street and trying Ercilia's.

Contact information and a picture of the menu after the jump. Continue reading.

Ercilia's Restaurant
3070 Mount Pleasant St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 387-0909

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Lyra said...

Nice to see you reviewing a wide variety of places. One thing-I believe in English the nationality is spelled Salvadoran (add "an" to Salvador).

Michael said...

Thank you, I'll fix that.