Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Las Placitas

Last night I juried the Capitol Hill Arts League show (will post prize winners later) and had two other things happen.

I got there a little early, and I found a primo Doris Day parking spot on the side street just a couple of minutes from the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. And so I parked, as I was (a) early and (b) ravenous, I decided to walk around 8th Street SE and look for a good, and new place to eat.

I ended up at Las Placitas Restaurant and it was superb!

When I got there it was quite early, and I was the only other person in the whole place, so service was immediate and good.

The chips and salsa were OK, and although the salsa was not the best I've ever had, it was fresh and tasty and I did scarf down the whole serving of chips and a second serving of salsa.

I then ordered a plate that they call "El Tipico," which in Spanish means that it is a typical Salvadorean dish. I also had a Tecate and then a Tamarind Juice drink.

I will admit that until I arrived in the DC area (first between 1987-1989 and then again for good in 1993), I had never tasted Salvadorean food.

El Tipico consisted of fried sweet plantains, a chicken papusa, fried yucca, white rice, black beans and Salvadorean style cole slaw (very spicy) and a dollop of sour cream for the plantains. It was a massive plate of food for about $10.

The food was good, plenty and fresh, and while I was there I noted a constant procession of people who had called their order in and were picking it up. It was obvious that La Placita is a "neighborhood" restaurant which does brisk pick-up business.

I also witnessed the sort of business acumen that makes one feel good about hard-working immigrants doing good in our nation.

This tiny lady came in and placed an order of shrimp salad to go. She sat and waited, and while the order was being prepared, the owner (I assume) chatted with her in broken English. It was soon evident that she had never tried "flan" and magically a flan appeared on the house, for her to eat while she waited.

As I listened in to the conversations between the owner, and the wait staff, two things became apparent:

(a) Someone called "El Gordo" had just quit from working in some nearby establishment because that establishment's owner was mistreating the staff.

(b) The restaurant pays $55 for a box of 20 chickens.

The chicken papusa was one of the best I've ever had, and whenever I eat one, I always wonder: just how do you make a papusa?

Essentially it is a stuffed tortilla, right?

I mean: do you make a circle of dough, then spread the stuffing on that disc of dough, and then place a second disc of dough on top, seal the edges and then quick-grill it on the pan? That seems to be a lot of work for essentially getting a papusa for a buck in most places.

But I digress; by the time I left, the place was fairly full of a very diverse crowd of locals eating what looked and smelled like delicious food.

Mine was!

P.S. I almost forgot; by the time I got back to my van, after jurying the show, I found a nice parking ticket from the city, as I had overstayed my two hours on a DC residential street.

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