2851 Imperial Avenue, Grant Hill
Pass south through Mexico and into Central America. As the weather gets hotter, food seems to become milder. El Salvador is the land of sweet banana and bean breakfasts, pupusas -- a kind of pita bread stuffed with things such as bacon, cheese, and loroco flowers, and sopa de mondongo, a Salvadoran menudo (tripe) soup. Or yuca frita -- fried sweet-potato-like yuccas with thick bacon. You drink jugo de zanahoria -- carrot juice -- or strawberries in milk, for the thirst-quenchingest drink in the world. It used to be you had to go to Los Angeles to find a real pupuseria. But for the past five years, Imperial Avenue has had El Salvadoreño. Inside it's blue, white, and clean, with lush pictures of Salvadoran mountains on the walls. Angela, one of the owners, says a group of Salvadoran families here decided to band together to make this happen. "We get Colombians, Hondurans, Costa Ricans, and Guatemalans as well as Salvadorans. This is their kind of food," she says. Try a breakfast of platano frito con frijoles y crema -- fried plantain (banana) with beans and cream. Drink cebada, a rich pink barley drink with milk. Ask about San Diego Beach, in El Salvador. Like the food, it's gentle and beautiful. All items are under $6.