When I was 18 years old, I moved to Washington D.C. to attend American University. Being resourceful, I reached out to a group of contacts some friends of mine advised me to call once I arrived in D.C. These contacts-who became my friends- introduced me to D.C.’s Salvadoran/Central American neighborhoods: Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights.
I volunteered, worked and interned for many of the local nonprofit organizations in the neighborhoods, so naturally, I ate there a lot-a whole lot. It was over countless lunches and dinners with friends and co-workers that I learned about Salvadoran culture and fell in love with the cuisine.
On weekends, I volunteered at the Latino senior center in Adams Morgan and was fortunate enough to have a few Salvadoran abuelitas (grandmas) who prepared homemade pupusas and tamales for me. They knew I was far from home and needed some home spun TLC. Those delicious homemade treats got me through many “all nighters” and spared me the horrible cafeteria food. I loved those abuelitas! I will always miss them and appreciate their kindness.
Every time I go to La Cabaña Salvadoreña (in Washington Heights), I fondly remember those sweet smelling eateries, the hours-long meals with friends, and my amazing abuelitas. It’s the nostalgia and excellent food that keep me going back.
La Cabaña is a small restaurant with a take out counter and 11 dining tables. The decor is minimal and the walls are lined with mirrors, the classic design tactic to make a space seem bigger. The atmosphere is relaxed and causal; like most mom-and-pop places it’s a great place to have a relaxed meal with friends. Recently, La Cabaña added the storefront next door and opened a small bar with additional dinner seating.
La Cabaña’s wait staff is attentive and friendly. I’ve always been greeted with a welcoming disposition and a smile. The waitresses at La Cabaña remind me of the wait staff I encountered in Adams Morgan; many of those young ladies had recently immigrated to the U.S. and were struggling single mothers. I always appreciated their service, conversation and the awesome gossip they had on everyone!
La Cabaña’s menu is divided into 8 sections, you can review it at Menu Pages:
The last time I visited La Cabaña, I decided to forego my carb controlled diet and had a good old-fashioned pig out. I opened the menu to the Platos Salvadoreños section and ordered a tamal de pollo (chicken) and elote (sweet corn), platanos maduros con crema (fried ripe plantains with sour cream), and a pupusa de pollo.
Probably the most popular Salvadoran dish, pupusas are flat cornmeal tortillas that are filled with meat, cheese or beans. My pupusa was served with curtido, a Salvadoran relish made with shredded cabbage and carrots that are fermented in salt and vinegar. The pupusa was wonderful; the outside was sweet and crispy, yet soft inside with a delicious ground chicken stuffing. Paired with the crunchy and briny curtido, the dish was an excellent combination of differing textures and flavors.
The cuts of spare rib were soft and well seasoned. The simple beef broth was light and savory; it balanced the sweetness of the carrots and corn perfectly. The cilantro and onions were crunchy and added an excellent hint of flavor to the soup.
La Cabaña Salvadoreña
HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 10:30am-10pm Fri.-Sun. 10am-11:30pm
ATMOSPHERE: Causal and relaxed.
SOUND LEVEL: Conversational.
KID FRIENDLY: Yes.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Pupusas, Tamales, Meat Section, and Soups.
BEVERAGES and PRICE RANGE: See the menu link: