Izalco and its chef Fernando Vallardes’ pupusas are fat, cheesy, perfectly crispy, and even his curtido is memorable, spicier than the norm and arriving in large jars. This is a kid with chops: a simple sample plate comes out carefully placed like a bento box; a simple order of camarones a la diabla features a complex sauce equal parts spicy, cheesy, gritty, and smooth. He obviously has ambitions, and the talent to match it—he even has a pastry chef on his team, who whips up Salvadoran favorites like tres leches cake and a quesadilla (not the Mexican tortilla with cheese but a sort of cornbread mixed with cheese—toasty, earthy, wonderful).
Next to 50-cent tacos, Salvadoran restaurants are the most endangered food genre in Orange County. We have enough of a Salvi population to keep about a dozen or so pupuserias alive—but the population is at that unfortunate nexus at which it's... More »
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