Thursday, August 04, 2005

My Momma Told Me, You Better Shop Around (For Pupusas, That Is) - Texis No. 4

You may or may not recall that a couple of months ago, I finally lost my pupusa virginity. It was a big day in my (epicurian) life, this deflowering, 'cause I feel a little more wise now, more well-rounded, more grown up. And it made me want more, but not necessarily from the same pupuseria you see, as it was all I knew. I wanted to see what else was out there, sow my wild pupusa oats if you will, and know that I'd eventually find the right one.

So the other day, my friends and I were driving back from lunch on Sherman Way in North Hollywood, a well known pick-up joint for cheap, ethnic eats, when suddenly, our eyes met for a split second. Texis No. 4 stood indiscretely in the corner of a NoHo mini mall, yet had enough magnetism to lure me in. It certainly isn't flashy, which would have been automatically a big-turn off for me; maybe it's because I just have this "thing" for pupusas, and when I saw the painted sign advertising pupuseria, I just gushed. That day, it was already late and I had to go, but you bet your ass I was back not more than a couple days later to find out if this initial attraction was going to go anywhere.

Things didn't get started as smoothly as I thought they would as there was a bit of a communication gap. No hellos, no greetings from the counterperson, just a stare to let us know that we could place our order at any time. Texis No. 4 is also primarily a Spanish speaker with very limited knowledge of the English language. So in my best EspaƱol, I made the first move: "Dos revueltas y una Coca Cola, por favor." Another stare. "Es todo para mi," I said, nervously. Friend number 1 pointed to a "Lunes y Miercoles" pupusas special on the menu offering a pupusa, rice, beans and a drink for some outrageously cheap price that I can't seem to remember, showed it to the lady, and she said no. Whao-kay. My high school Spanish lessons flashed before me: "OK, I know Miercoles is Wednesday," I thought, as I turned to my friends. "Today is Wednesday, right?" Oh well, whatever--I didn't know enough Spanish to argue. Friend number 2 tried ordering a Diet Coke, but the lady taking our order looked at her like she was crazy as she held up a can of regular Coke and said something to the effect of "Only this." "Um, ¿que otras bebidas tiene?" I interjected. Water became an acceptable substitute for my friend as all we heard was Coca Cola, tamarindo and something else we couldn't make out.

I hoped all the awkwardness would reap a huge payoff, a bit questionable at first, but as we grabbed a seat at one of the few formica booths along the wall and heard the slap, slap, slap of pupusas being made to order, I became increasingly hopeful. Our counterperson brought utensils and napkins out along with a squeeze bottle of salsa roja and a big jar of the tart, crispy cabbage slaw curtido that I love so much out to our table, and I knew that things were going to be on soon. A few short minutes later and the plates with our fluffy discs of heaven were brought to us. And ya know, this time was better than the first time! Looking back at my first experience with Atlacatl, the pupusas were much drier and the filling a bit bland. The ones here at Texis were grilled golden brown on the outside but revealed moist, fluffy masa on the inside with a definitely tastier version of the revuelta filling: gooey cheese and subtley smoky roast pork and refried beans. Some of the cheese had even oozed out of some of these to form a yummy cheese crust where it had hit the griddle. Of course, no pupusa is complete without a few squirts of mild salsa roja and heaps of curtido on top to seal the deal. Which it soooo did.

Much better than my first!

My friend decided to stray a little from the norm and order the steak plate, 'cause she's a freak like that. And as all freaky things go, they often times turn out to be quite interesting and even quite good. The steak wasn't even a steak really, but more like big chunks of tender brisket that were stewed in a hearty tomato based sauce with some bell peppers and onions. On the side, small steamy pools of rice and beans along with fluffy discs of Salvadoran corn tortillas.

Freakishly good Salvadoran steak plate

So am I finished playing around this pupusa playground? Am I going to settle down now? Hell no. My experience at Texis No. 4 just showed me that there's lots more good lovin' to be found; ya just gotta keep your eyes open and not settle for the first one that comes your way. But will I be back to Texis? You bet I will.

Texis No. 4
12650 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605
(818) 982-0907


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You should try the pupusas at the hollywood farmer's market on sundays 8-2.
As a fellow pupusa lover I can tell you that they're delicious!!

Anonymous said...

Texis, yuck! I'm never eating there again. I'm From El Salvador and I can tell you that place not only has terrible customer service but some of the nastiest, greasiest pupusas in the world. I've yet to find a pupuseria that makes them anywhere near as good as they should be, but texis is definitely as far as china is from New York.