El Zunzal is a Salvadoran restaurant located at 642 Calles St. right next to the H.E.B. at 7th and Pleasant Valley. My wife turned me on to this place, and we've been coming here for years. They serve both Mexican and Salvadoran dishes, as well as one of my favorite beers in the world, the Salvadoran brewed Regia Extra.
My favorite dish here is the fried yucca con chicharon. The cubed pork is fried up golden and delicious, and the starchy, slightly sweet yucca makes a perfect match. I like to heap a good portion of curtido onto this dish.
Curtido is basically shredded, pickled cabbage. Think sauerkraut, but much lighter and not really sour at all. It's an excellent accompaniment to pretty much anything, but is especially good with the pupusas.
Pupusas are a delightful stuffed corn tortilla, similar to a gordita, except that all of the filling is completely closed up inside. On our recent visit, Jarod, Mando and I sampled both the chicharon and loroco. Loroco is an edible flower, very similar to a squash blossom. Both pupusas were fantastic. The grill charred corn exterior gives way to the cheese and filling stuffed interior making for a genuine party in your mouth. Everybody is invited! Don't forget the curtido.
Having sampled many of the Salvadoran delicacies on offer over the years, I decided to get a couple of tacos this time so I could get a handle on where El Zunzal fits in with it's peers on a taco to taco basis. Ladies and gents, I'm delighted to report that it fits in near the top.
I had a taco de carnitas and one de carne molida. The store bought tortillas on both tacos were grilled up to perfection, generating as nice a texture as you can get without making them fresh. The molida, a spiced ground beef, was incredibly flavorful and moist. The carnitas were absolutely fantastic. It was all I could do not to jump up and start singing.... I can't liiiiiiive, if living is without yoooou....
Anyway. The tacos were super kickass. They were also fairly large and only $2 each. In fact, one of the greatest things about El Zunal is how affordable it is across the board.
After years of patronage, I can heartily recommend El Zunzal for it's wide variety of Salvadoran delights. Stopping by for a pupusa loroco heaped up with curtido is sure to be an eye-opening and fun new experience for any food lover. If you are simply in the mood for some excellent tacos, you will also be taken care of quite well.
El Zunzal - 4.5 stars - Cornbiter Deluxe
642 Calles St