Of all the unfamiliar restaurants I’ve been to in the last few months, at many of which I was clearly the only person there who wasn’t friends with everyone else there (customers and employees), walking into El Palenque (4226 Garrett Rd) was the only time I almost turned around and left. I am VERY GLAD I didn’t.
The only reason I almost did was that, despite the “Bar and Restaurant” sign outside, inside it looked like a straight-up pool hall. A cavernous barren one, albeit with pastel-colored walls and very loud music. We had to kind of walk around a corner to see a few tables with salt and pepper shakers on them, and even then I was wondering if the “Restaurant” part of this place was a bit of an afterthought. Turns out, not at all.
That is a Chuleta con Tajadas (fried pork chop with fried plantain chips). It was great. There was a lot of good pork hidden under all that delicious cabbage.
That’s a fried plantain appetizer (not chips, but maduros, the sweeter ones) with crema and better-than-average refried beans.
The highlight for me was the hot mess pictured below. This scene of destruction was created by me, not by El Palenque…yes, I cut stuff up and smushed it around a bit before taking the photo. Sorry.
What you are looking at is two halves of pupusas (one cheese, one pork and cheese) and half of a baliada mixta (a flour tortilla with, as far as I remember, refried beans, carne asada, crema, and eggs). You never get FLOUR tortillas at taquerias (which El Palenque is not) but I thought I would check this one out; the menu mentioned several times that all the tortillas were homemade so I figured it couldn’t be bad. In fact, it was great. To use DNR’s favorite word, it was pillowy. The pupusas were also amazing–better, in my opinion, than the ones at the nearby El Cuscatleco (though I like the plaintains better at El Cuscatleco).
So, baliadas are actually Honduran and pupusas are originally from El Salvador, but Palenque is a Mayan ruin in Mexico. So I have no idea where the cooks at this restaurant are from, but they are good!