Guatelinda is in the little strip mall on Lafayette Road where Saigon was originally if you are a west side frequenter. Side note, whenever I drive around over there, I am a hazard on the roads, looking everywhere for potential places to eat.
They bring you chips and salsa to start—can’t say there was anything really particularly interesting about these. I did like that they gave you a little carafe of salsa and your own little personal bowl, so you could double dip with impunity. But they were your basic chips (not warm or anything) and a very thin, slightly sweet, salsa. Of course I still ate some and even managed to spill some on my white sweater.
For lunch, I found myself perusing the last page of the menu where all the a la carte items are listed. They were all reasonably priced (everything I had was around $1-2 each) and if I ordered here I figured I could try several things and spend as much as I would on a meal (I don’t need the beans and rice).
My favorite thing was probably the sope—it is a little circle of corn-based pastry that is shaped like a mini piecrust and fried til it’s crisp outside. You can have it topped with any kind of meat –I went with the al pastor spicy pork (of course I did). The pork was topped with shredded lettuce, a very loose sour cream dressing and tomatoes and dry crumbly cheese (Cotija I am guessing) that’s almost like Parmesan. The crust had a nice crunch and a nice flavor and I liked the lettuce mix on top (and often I am not a fan of lettuce in my Mexican food) because the tanginess of the sour cream was good with the meat-which was in nice meaty chunks.
I also had a pupusa, which is a cornmeal type pancake that is stuffed with various fillings—in my case pork and cheese. They serve this one with a side of nice acidic shredded cabbage that in my opinion was an absolute must with the pupusa. The pupusa alone was good but just kind of one-dimensional. With the bright “slaw” on top, it made it much more interesting.
The last thing I had was the empanada, which was a deep fried pastry that was stuffed with meat (in this case chicken) and cheese. I went with chicken for something different, and also because it was the first thing our server listed when she asked what I wanted in it. I was impressed with the large chunks of chicken inside the pastry, because they were nice and tender. There was A LOT of cheese, and again, while it was tasty, definitely benefited from some of the same shredded lettuce/sour cream/cheese garnish served on the side. And some of that lightly pickled cabbage from the pupusa didn’t hurt either. Heck, that stuff was good on everything, and I pretty much put it on everything.
The whole meal for me was $8 and some change and it was a ton of food. Even sharing bites with my lunch dates, I didn’t finish it all. There is not a lot of English spoken here, but the menus are pretty well translated. The server was very nice and efficient. It was a good, economical, lunch place.
I have several places on my list for the west side, but now that I've got locals over there to go with, what would be the top of your list in the Lafayette Square area? I would love to add to the options.
3107 Lafayette Road