Customers going into La Salvadoreña Restaurant in Aberdeen will be met with a warm atmosphere, friendly staff, and the guarantee of a tasty meal created from family recipes. The restaurant dishes comprise of a mix between El Salvadoran and Mexican cuisines and offer a large menu with something appetizing for everyone.
“We know there’s a lot more people out there that haven’t had a chance to try it and we’d love it if they could just come and give us a chance and experience what it is to have some of our food,” says co-owner Lucero (Lucy) Garcia.
The original owner, Maria Gonzalez, passed the restaurant down to her son, Luis Flamenco, and his fiancee, Lucy Garcia, in 2010 where the couple has fully embraced the business. Luis had been a dishwasher at the restaurant in the beginning and as his mother began taking on more projects and was stretched too thin, she offered him the restaurant. He was in his twenties at the time and was skeptical to take on so much work and responsibility at first, but Maria worked alongside Luis until he was comfortable taking over the business. Luis and Lucy have been hard at work since the transition to ownership.
“It just kind of fell in our hands, in a way,” Lucy says. “We’re very, very lucky that we had that opportunity.”
La Salvadoreña started out small when Maria wanted to create a restaurant where she could offer dishes based from El Salvador, where she was raised.
“She had always wanted to do a restaurant where she could sell the food items that were native to El Salvador,” Lucy says. “When she first started it out, I think she just had the pupusas.”
Pupusas are handmade tortillas that are stuffed with different ingredients, with 11 different combinations offered at La Salvadoreña. Though the menu has expanded with lots of other food items, the pupusas, which can be made with either corn or rice flour, remain one of the most popular items ordered at the restaurant. Pupusas revueltas are one of the items topping the list, which has a combination of pork, bean, and cheese.
Other items native to El Salvador that guests enjoy are fried plantains, tamales, and pastelitos, which are a savory combination of pork, green beans, carrots, and potatoes. The flavorful tamales offered at the restaurant are traditional El Salvadoran tamales that use an alternative wrapping compared to the traditional Mexican tamales that use corn husks.
“They’re wrapped in banana leaf,” Lucy says. “So the banana leaf gives them a slightly different flavor.”
When Luis and Lucy first took over La Salvadoreña, they had their own set of challenges as they tried to get their footing. They put in a lot of time, effort, and money in the beginning as they tried to grow the business and struggled at first to make a profit as they reinvested everything they made back into the restaurant. In 2014, they opened in the new location at 122 N H Street in Aberdeen and all of their hard work has paid off.
“I think we’re rooted here now,” Lucy says. “We’re actually thinking of expanding.”
If they expand, it would be by either buying the building and then renovating it or possibly building something else sometime in the future.
“We’re definitely staying,” Lucy adds, saying that one day their children will likely take over the family business.
Things have been so busy at times that Maria, the previous owner, will still come in and help out in the kitchen where she enjoys spending time at the restaurant.
“She loves coming in and helping them back there,” Lucy says.
Along with goals of expansion, La Salvadoreña works to maintain their goal of keeping their food at a high standard, but also to keep it affordable for customers.
“I think our main goal here has been to keep our prices so it’s something that people can do more than once a month,” Lucy says. “Something that people can make a regular stop and it’s not going to break your bank.”
Lucy says that they are always looking to improve as a restaurant and welcome feedback or suggestions from patrons.
Both Luis and Lucy enjoy living in Grays Harbor, especially the quiet environment, weather, and lack of traffic. Their favorite part is getting to know so much of the local community and being able to interact with people as they serve them and listen to their different stories.
La Salvadoreña Restaurant is located at 122 N H Street in Aberdeen and can be reached at 360-532-8747. For more information, visit the official La Salvadoreña Restaurant Facebook page.