Although I wasn’t sure I had tried Salvadoran cuisine before, Flores’s online menu in Portland seemed somewhat familiar to me.
There were nachos, tacos and burritos. But there were also dishes like yucca con chicharron (sautéed yucca with garlic, onion, pickled cabbage and a choice of pork, beef or chicken) and camarones a la plancha (grilled shrimp with onions and peppers, served with rice and guacamole.)
My daughter, Dinah, and I were looking for some comfort food that we could eat in front of a college football game (my idea, not hers) on a Saturday, so we went with things that looked familiar to us. The restaurant’s website says it offers “Hispanic cuisine with recipes native to El Salvador,” and we both found that we really liked the Salvadoran flavors and techniques used in the dishes.
I ordered our dinner at the new Flores location which opened in mid-September about a block from the Portland Public Library on Congress Street. The original Flores can be found at the other end of Congress Street in the Parkside area. It’s primarily a take-out lunch spot with only nine seats and no bar. The new location has a colorful interior, a full bar, and seating for around 45 people.
Although it is a welcoming interior, Dinah and I really wanted to take out food on the sofa. I had ordered our food online around 3pm on a Saturday, between housework and college football games, and had chosen a 6:30 pm pickup time. When I got there I had to wait about five minutes for my order.
Right away when we opened our food Dinah and I saw a difference from other tacos and nachos we’ve had. There was no salsa or red tomato-based sauces. The huge order of nachos ($ 12) was topped with chicken, queso fresco cheese, Salvadoran cabbage, pico, avocado salsa and cream. The tortilla chips were home made and had all the heavy toppings in them. Overall it was a tasty dish, with a tasty flavor but not spicy.
We also shared a hearty grilled burrito with beef, plantain, rice, beans and sour cream ($ 12). It was very creamy on the inside and the beef had a nice charcoal on it. We couldn’t figure out exactly what the brownish sauce was that was coming on the side, but we really liked it. Again, not spicy but very tasty.
We also had three soft corn tortilla tacos with pork, queso fresco, cabbage, pico, and avocado salsa ($ 12). They were some of the tastiest tacos I’ve had. I liked that they were in two fairly thick tortillas that hold all the fillings well.
The three dishes I tried made me want to try some of the more adventurous (for me, anyway) dishes in Flores. There are stews and entrees for $ 15 to $ 20, which is more than some might want to spend on a quick take out meal. But there are plenty of entrees and other entrees between around $ 8 and $ 12, including pupusas, fried taquitos, seared scallops, enchiladas, and empanadas.
I know most of these dishes, but I can’t wait to try the Flores version.