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Eating in East Boston

September 20, 2011

When I was seeking First Day Volunteers to help out on the First Day of School and First Day of Kindergarten, I had a hard time finding people who would go to East Boston. The first reason for this might have been that not that many people live in East Boston, at least not from my pool of volunteers. The second reason might be for the perception of East Boston’s distance from the rest of the city.

I ended up going on both days to East Boston and I’m very glad I did. To get to East Boston from where I live, I take the Orange Line to State and transfer to the Blue Line. Compared to the Red and Green Lines, the Blue Line is in like-new condition and rather spacious. My roommate tells me that East Boston looks like Dublin without the Irish population. I just like it for the food.

Cecilia and I wandered out of the North End towards East Boston by way of Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market – I’m not sure if this made any actual sense as a walking route.

Paul Revere's House

Along the way, I think I must have confused the bridge to Charlestown for a bridge to East Boston. But we got some great views of the Tobin Bridge and found another lovely park!

I need to ask my mom if these are lychees

When we realized our error, we decided the better part of valor was to take the Orange to the Blue Line.

Our mission in East Boston was a pupuseria hidden away in a residential part of East Boston called Mama Blanca. This was another place on my list of good eating from The Boston Phoenix. At this point, the thunderclouds were looming over us and Cecilia and I wanted to get inside before we got soaked. I think we made it to this little house nestled at the end of a row of houses just as it began to rain.

Once seated, it became apparent that the solitary cook/waitress couldn’t speak much English. Fortunately, years of eating at Maravillas, helpful photos, and hunger won the day. My brother Nick had warned me off Boston’s horchata based on his Anna’s experience but Cecilia was undeterred.

Mama Blanca’s horchata was good! And different from Chicago (read: Nuevo Leon & Maravillas) horchata. First, it was a light shade of brown. We speculated that they might be using a different kind of rice? Or perhaps this was coloring from the vanilla and cinnamon (and possibly nutmeg?) seasoning. Second, it did feel a bit thicker than Chicago horchata although I didn’t water it down like I sometimes do to super-sweet Chicago horchata. It also had a lovely aroma. Maybe the seasoning agent is a horchata syrup? I think there were less particulates at the bottom. I think this large glass was $1.50?

For my drink, I contemplated a tropical fruit drink but it was hard to ask our server about the fruits we didn’t recognize and I didn’t feel like treading old territory on such a big adventure day. So I went with atol de elote, which turned out to be a hot, sweet, corn drink that was hearty enough to be a breakfast or dessert all on its own. This hefty portion was $2.25 with kernels of sweet corn.

I’m a big fan of pupusa condiments – the El Salvadorean slaw and tomato sauce. These were not the best examples although the pupusas they came with were so good that they didn’t need them.

We got two different pupusas – Pupusa Revuelta with cheese and meat and Pupusa Mixto with meat and beans. I noticed that Cecilia’s was bigger and more fried and was appropriately envious. We were also very gratified to hear the slapping sound of fresh masa being molded into pupusas.

Inside the Pupusa Revuelta

These pupusas were excellent – light and crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. Even better than my first happy East Boston pupusa. $1.75 each for a pupusa at least 5-6 inches in diameter and evenly filled with a thin but sufficient sliver of tasty morsels.

But Cecilia and I didn’t stop there – we also got an order of tacos lengua.

My tongue says yes to Lengua

Tender cubes of meat were coated in a silky brown sauce and then dressed with fresh iceberg lettuce, red onion, and tomato. Cecilia and I wondered if the usual topping of cilantro and onion was substituted because of our appearance or if El Salvadorean tacos don’t have cilantro. No matter, they were delicious and big enough to be a meal by themselves. Tacos come in sets of three at $2 each. Well worth the price.

Conclusion: Come to East Boston for great El Salvadorean food. I still have to try out the Colombian restaurants here and another post is in the works about the hidden gem of East Boston – Piers Park.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pattycakes permalink
    September 26, 2011 12:04 pm

    ATOL. ❤ Also clearly what you need to do when you have questions about tropical fruits is text me.

  2. cissyhuang permalink*
    September 26, 2011 1:06 pm

    Babygirl, clearly what we need to do is be together at all meals.

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