Gloria's Secret Café
If there’s a cheerier restaurant in town than this shoebox-size Salvadoran café, we haven’t found it. The dining room holds only four tables, and its pink-and-yellow walls are adorned with colorful parrot figurines and strings of plastic chile-pepper lights. Each dish, which comes plated with black beans, golden rice, and a crisp watercress-and-cabbage salad, is as eye-catching as it is rib-sticking. The chicken mole ($10.50) is smothered in a smoky ancho and poblano chile sauce laced with chocolate and bits of white onion. Tender and meaty, the mango and habanero chicken ($10.50) heats up the palate without rocketing off the Scoville scale. If it’s comfort food you seek, look no further than Vargas’s handmade pupusas ($10.50). A traditional Salvadoran staple, these thick, pancake-size rounds of masa are filled with panfried shredded pork and three types of cheese—Monterey jack, quesillo , and mozzarella—and sautéed in an iron skillet before being topped with pickled cabbage. It’s just the sort of dish that Gloria’s specializes in: the kind you’ll never regret ordering.