Sunday, April 3, 2011

El Gavilan Pupuseria

I decided to try El Gavilan in Norfolk because of the reviews that I had read. For the most part, the reviews were all positive and the word "authentic" seemed to keep creeping up. I generally do not enjoy Mexican restaurants because the menus are all the same and the food is all the same -- boring.

So on a Sunday afternoon I made the trip to have lunch at El Gavilan. This is not the usual Mexican restaurant that I've been to in the past. It's not a chain and it's definitely not fast food. I'll say this now ... the service is comparitively slow but that is because it takes time to actually cook a meal. Not just throw something in the microwave and splash some unidentifiable sauce over it. I believe that El Gavilan's food is the real deal.

The menu is in Spanish and contains all sorts of Mexican and El Salvadorian dishes. They also throw in a few American dishes for the less adventurous. These items include: wings, burgers and steak and cheese.

The restaurant is very modestly decorated and over the front counter hung several signs that said "Welcome to Norfolk". For some reason this made me laugh. Probably because when you're in the restaurant you kind of forget that you are even in Norfolk. The music that played sounded like Spanish hip hop and I couldn't help but move to the beat and try to pick up a few words. One television was tuned to a Spanish-speaking station and the other television had on a soccer game.

The menu is filled with different options but I came for one thing: the pupusa.

The pupusa is the El Salvadorian version of the tortilla only thicker. It's usually stuffed with cheese, beans and/or meat. I ordered the Pupusa Loca (Crazy Pupusa) which is made with cheese, herbs, pork, chicken, shrimp, beans and squash. Initially, I thought the squash sounded weird but it worked out well. The portion size was huge and as you can see it more than covered the plate. It was really delicious. The pupusa does not contain big chunks of ingredients but everything is blended perfectly. It is served with a side of cole slaw which is nothing like I've ever tasted. It was vinegar-based and I believe it was made with oregano. Also very good.

We also ordered the chicken and cheese quesadillas:

Again, huge portions that fill the plate. They were served with guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce an sour cream. Yummy.

El Gavilan is open seven days a week and seems to be a favorite among the local Hispanic community. Which, by the way, is not something I usually see in the "other" Mexican restaurants.

For me, someone who rarely ventures out of the beach, El Gavilan is well worth the drive and deserving of a second trip.

7920 Chesapeake Blvd.

Norfolk, VA 23518

(757) 587-9200

El Gavilan Restaurant & Pupuseria on Urbanspoon


Laine and Alex said...

Looks fabulous, but the restaurant really is out of the way. I can see why it would have to be a special trip.

Anonymous said...

I live right around the corner, so its not out of the way for my family. For those coming from the beach, just take the Chesapeake Blvd exit off 64 its on the right just past Little Creek Hwy.

Natalie Valdes said...

The fact that you are calling this restaurant "mexican" may be offensive to the fact that papusas are a salvadorian dish. El salvador is an entirely different country than mexico. Its like italy and napoli. Or american and britain. Just because the languages are similar doesn't make it the same thing. The dialect is different as are the foods.

And when you speak of other "Mexican restaurants around the area" Please make sure theyre really "MEXICAN." Because this one is not.

I'm from New York City and I've had the pleasure of experiencing all kinds of foods from different cultures and backgrounds so I know the difference.