Sample Salvadorean delicacies at Santa Rosa

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006

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Tom Fedor⁄the Gazette
Beef enchiladas at the Santa Rosa Restaurant in Frederick. On the cover: Fajitas mixtas at the Santa Rosa Restaurant.

Santa Rosa Restaurant is proudly celebrating their first year anniversary in Frederick.

Specializing in Salvadorean and Mexican food, and owned by Roberto Delcid and his wife, the restaurant is located at 1003 W. Patrick Street.

The entrance is partially hidden by trees lining the sidewalk between Jo-Ann Etc. and K-Mart.

The rather small restaurant is sparkling clean, cheerful and comfortable.

Rosanna, our hostess and server, met us with a beaming smile and seated us with menus in hand.

We told her it was our first visit to the restaurant, and we needed some time to study the menu. She willingly answered questions as she took our beverage order and delivered the customary chips and salsa. Both were excellent.

Tables are covered with green check vinyl cloths topped with glass. Silverware is wrapped in white paper napkins.

Glittering sombreros, colorful fish, and bunches of plastic peppers, bananas and mangos are placed at various intervals on the walls.

Interesting thin pink and purple neon lights cast a pleasant glow, along with spotlights to illuminate the tables.

We shared an order of zesty nachos de carne (beef nachos) for $6.25. Our request for cheese on the top was more than amply satisfied. We cleaned the platter.

I went to Santa Rosa with the intention of eating something I had never eaten before. It was not hard to find such items in the listing of Salvadorean food or Santa Rosa Combinations.

I went all out and ordered #22, Combination 2 for $5.99. The combination included one pupusa, one tamale, and fried plantains with sour cream. I have had plantains, but never the other two. Number 23, combination 3 gives you gives you two each of the pupusa and tamale for $5.99.

I have been intrigued by the entrée pupusas as we often see ice-cream type trucks selling these on street corners in the Virginia⁄Washington D. C. area.

A pupusa is a thick, handmade corn tortilla made from maize flour dough, and filled with meat, cheese, chicken or refried beans. Mine was made with beef. It was nicely browned and an enjoyable experience.

My tamale was filled with tender chicken. I always associate the word hot with the word tamale, and that would not be to my liking. However, this tamale made for happy taste buds as it was mildly seasoned. I am glad I tried both items. I asked for a side of refried beans, and enjoyed those also.

All entrees listed under Salvadorean food are served with rice, beans, salad, and two tortillas. Beef or chicken stew, steak, shrimp, tilapia and pork chops are in this category on the menu.

My husband would like to return another time and try the pescado frito or fried tilapia with sautéed onions, peppers and tomato for $10.99. For the hearty appetite, Combination Guanaca offers a feast of beef, eggs, Salvadorean cheese, fried plantains, rice, beans, avocado and two tortillas for $13.95.

My not so adventuresome dining companions stayed with some familiar Mexican entrees and were not disappointed.

A beef enchilada ($5.99), served with rice, beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream was one friend’s choice. One bite of the side salad-type relish and he exclaimed, ‘‘Whoa, there is something very hot in here!” Despite that comment, he found it enjoyable.

My husband was served a generous chicken quesadilla ($8.99). Large pieces of chicken inside made the quesadilla a hearty choice. He also enjoyed a side of refried beans.

Our lady friend was pleased with her chicken chimichanga ($9.99). She would have preferred the chicken shredded instead of the larger pieces, but found it a tasty selection. It was served with rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole.

All meals were attractively arranged on brightly colored platters. This was a nice feature to have the generous portions of food not overlapping or spilling off the plate.

Many appetizers are on the menu, but the most unusual, according to my eating habits, is Yuca Con Chicharron. Fried cassava root and fried pork are served with marinated cabbage and tomato sauce. This might be worth a try the next time.

Soups, burritos, tacos, fajitas plus a list of sides are on the menu. The sopa de mariscos, (seafood soup), containing fish, shrimp, crab, mussels and scallops sounds like a meal in itself for $11.79.

Fajitas are made with chicken, beef, shrimp or a combination of all. Burritos contain chicken or beef, as do the chimichangas.

Tacos — pollo, carne o lengua —come with a choice of chicken, beef or cow tongue for $7.99. A taco salad ($6.99) is served with a choice of ground beef or chicken and served with lettuce, tomato, sour cream guacamole and shredded cheese.

Lunch entrees are served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The list includes burritos, enchiladas, pork chops, and pork or chicken stew. All items on the menu are also available during lunch hours.

Once again, I found it necessary to try one of the desserts. I asked Rosanna if she would recommend the flan or tres leches. She smiled shyly, and suggested the tres leches ($3.99).

I was served a nice sized piece of the three milk cake with a very smooth cream sauce over the top. I did not offer to share, as the others had their chance to order dessert.

A new dining experience for all of us turned out to be a very pleasant one. We enjoyed good food, and friendly, efficient service in a warm atmosphere.