November 30th, 1999 NICK ZUKIN | Food Reviews & Stories
 

     
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Along with Ma Toña’s, El Palenque’s one of only two Central American restaurants in Portland-proper. Too bad the food isn’t better. Pupusas are leaden with flavorless fillings. The curtido is almost soupy. The tamal, stuffed with olives, red pepper and meat, lacks flavor. (Pupusa or tamal platter, $10, comes with beans and rice.) The platanos fritos are carbonized on one side and uncooked on the other. However, their sesame-topped pan de queso is light, sweet and crusty. And their yuca frita ($13) is the best executed in the entire survey with a puffy exterior and creamy, light interior. Check out the Salvadoran Special for $26: Two pupusas, tamal, fried plantain, Salvadoran cheese bread, rice and beans.

 
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