I plan to devote November's blog updates to alternative Thanksgiving dinner dishes, but I had to take a quick break before fully diving in and tell everyone about this fabulous restaurant that Kimmy and I stumbled upon called Pilar's Tamales on Liberty at Stadium. The place is tiny, but uncluttered, with fun festive colors and an El Salvadoran flag on the wall. Plus the staff couldn't be friendlier!
The menu is simple, decently priced, and packed with delicious options. Kimmy ordered the special #2 which was comprised of one pupusa, curtido, casamiento, and fried plantains. I also got the curtido because I ordered two chicken pupusas and refreshing hibiscus iced tea to drink. Included with her meal, Kimmy got horchata. Both lunches were around $10 each.
Okay, here is a breakdown of what all those words mean for those who, like me until relatively recently, are not familiar with Salvadoran food.
- Pupusa: thick, handmade tortillas filled with cheese and occasionally meat and/or refried beans
- Curtido: fermented cabbage slaw in vinegar traditionally served with pupusas
- Casamiento: fried rice and beans
Horchata takes a little more in-depth explanation. It is a beverage with dozens of variations in many cultures all over the world, but I am going to deal specifically with Mexico, since that is the region Kimmy is used to, and El Salvador. In Mexico, horchata is basically rice milk with cinnamon and occasionally vanilla. In El Salvador, it is primarily made not from rice, but morro seeds. “Other common ingredients include ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tigernuts and vanilla. Other nuts that may also be used include peanuts, almonds and cashews. Because of these ingredients, the horchata is usually strained before serving” (Wikipedia).
If you've never tried Salvadoran cuisine, or are homesick for SoCal, and are in the Ann Arbor area, I highly suggest a trip to Pilar's Tamales on Liberty.