Irving Boulevard is home to a number of restaurants named “El Salvador.” When one is waffling between the large variety of similarly titled restaurants, or indeed any Latino food offered in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, consider this establishment.
The restaurant is located at 1910 W. Irving Blvd., next to a laundromat. At the time I was there, there also seemed to be some sort of outdoor live auction in Spanish, with a specific and endearing authenticity.
The waitress addressed us entirely in Spanish, which I do not speak, but because I went with friends who knew some Spanish, the language barrier did not in any way interfere with my experience. I am certain that an English-only speaker could survive alone through mimicry and being driven by hungry desperation.
Still, if the reader appreciates lots of communication about specials and other restaurant matters with waitstaff, he should consider his Spanish-speaking skills before patronizing this restaurant. As far as I could tell, our waitress was very polite and punctual and spoke kindly.
The inside of the restaurant was clean and well-kept. The large room of basic tables and chairs resembled a cafeteria, but the warm lighting and music gave El Salvador a charming vitality. The restaurant was casual, but nice. There were several buffet tables that were filled with a variety of dishes, and there was a glass case filled with some lovely looking cookies with powdered sugar.
On the opposite wall from the door were several large television screens displaying soccer games. There was also a jukebox in the corner playing loud but pleasant Spanish music. A grinning man sat by himself near this jukebox with a pile of $1 bills and a beer from the restaurant’s full bar. Periodically, he would get up and use the bills to feed the jukebox a new song.
There were other diners in the restaurant as well. My party had gone for a fairly early lunch around 11:30 a.m., but El Salvador already held parents, children, old couples and all the usual characters one finds in a family restaurant on a weekend around noon.
The menu offered a variety of Peruvian, Salvadoran, Spanish and Mexican food, which was warm and arrived promptly. One friend ordered paella, which contained all the little sea creatures one who orders paella must hope for, as well as light rice. Another ordered tangy shrimp ceviche, a refreshing choice on a warm day.
The portions were large, and the bill was equally so. I chose to get a sample platter of foods, which I found to be a good deal at only $9.99. The sample dish had the best plantains I have ever tasted, as well as refried beans, a chicken tamale, pupusa and yucca. Pupusa, an indigenous Salvadoran dish, is a thick tortilla, and in this case it was filled with chicken. Yucca is a South American root that tastes like potato, cut thick and fried.
For those who can’t decide on just one dish, the restaurant also offers a buffet. El Salvador exposes patrons to Central American food in its sincerest form. My only reprobation of the restaurant is that there were no free chips and salsa.
Owners Jose and Hilcia Garcia said they opened the Salvadoran restaurant in 2000.
“Basically, my wife wanted a restaurant,” Jose Garcia said. “Her brothers in N.Y., in Long Island, have a restaurant. We brought one of her brothers to help us open it up. There were too many Salvadoran restaurants, and the service was not very good. We wanted to offer something different to the community, something different than what was available when we opened it.”
El Salvador Restaurant
1910 W. Irving Blvd #2, Irving, TX 75061
Sunday 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Weeknights 9 a.m–8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. –10 p.m.
Price range: $5.99-$17.99