Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jaragua...new kid on the block can play with the big boys


4493 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323)661-1985
Open Everyday Noon-10PM

Over this weekend we found a new spot that's totally worth a mention. Jaragua is located on the Saladorean strip of Beverly (between Vermont and Western) at the the far West end of the block. We had seen when it was in the process of opening a short while ago and made sure to mark it on our "go to" list. What really enticed us initially was the fact that it was a Salvadorean spot that was obviously trying to step it up to finer dining (most of the restaurants on that strip are mom and pop spots that are more about the food than the appearance...to say the least).

The interior is, as you can see, more of a family dining type of atmosphere.

We were promptly seated and ordered quickly. We started off with their traditional appetizer platter which had sliced green plantains, fried yucca, one empanada, fried plantain chips and a patelito. Let me start right off the bat and say that their empanada that they gave was pure bliss in my mouth. I had never had a banana and cream empanada and this thing rocked. The yucca was lightly fried making it much easier to enjoy as it's subtle flavor wasn't hindered by heavy batter. The plantains were perfectly ripe making them bold in their sweetness and the pastelito was a baby fist sized ball of meat and vegetables. A wonderful platter and would be worth going back for alone..but it gets betters.

What kind of Salvadorean restaurant would be complete without pupusas? None. It was about 6 inches in diameter and (the one we got) filled with revuelta. Revuelta is a mixture of chicharon, cheese and beans. While not the best I've had, it was completely worth it as everyone's revuelta pupusas taste a little different and are thereby pretty customized. Their's was nicely made with meat of notably good quality, wasn't too salty and also good as it was also a decent size.

Ah...Salvadorean tamales, always a treat. Celeste got for herself one chicken and one pork. Now, she could have gotten one and been just fine, cause the things were huge...almost twice the size of your everyday tamale. That said, I'm glad she did though, because if she hadn't, we wouldn't have known that they use different flavoring for the masa for the different types of meat. If you haven't tried a Salvadorean tamale, you really must. The style of masa in the first place is considerably different (it's smooth and moist with a sweeter flavor) , and there's always one green olive (pleasantly mild) , and a couple potato chunks. Even if you share, make sure you at least try one the next time you have a chance, no matter where you are!

The entree we got (and should have shared!) was their Pollo Encebollado which came with traditonal rice (carrots, fava beans and peas mixed in). I think an entire onion was used and every ring was tasty. This was a massive plate of food with a quarter of chicken and all the vegetables within. The chicken was tender and moist and the onions added lots of character to it. A little bit of citrus zing rounded out the sauce that everything was sitting in. What a great plate of food this was and they whipped out pretty fast to boot.

They have parking in the back and there's plenty of street parking in the area. The staff was quick and very courteous, though I did have one small problem with the waitress who brought us our check (not the waitress who was helping us for everything else). She brought the check out and actually waited right there by the table for me to sign my bill. Kind of rude...but I think she was new...in fact I'm almost positive she was. Overall I look forward to going back as the prices were really good and I'd love to support a local newcomer that I feel deserves a chance to get going.

Free refills: No

Entree Price Range: Sampler platter was $7, main entrees are $9 to $14 (remember lots of food!), and tamales are about $2.25 as well as the pupusas.

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