Though I wasn’t sure I had ever tried Salvadoran food before, the online menu for Flores in Portland looked somewhat familiar.

There were nachos, tacos and burritos. But there were also dishes like yucca con chicharron (sauteed yucca with garlic, onion, pickled cabbage and a choice of pork, beef or chicken) and camarones a la plancha (grilled shrimp with onions and peppers, served with rice and guacamole.)

My daughter, Dinah, and I were looking for some comfort food we could eat in front of a college football game (my idea, not hers) on a Saturday, so we went with things that felt familiar. The restaurant’s website says it offers “Hispanic food with recipes originally from El Salvador,” and both of us found we really liked the Salvadoran flavors and techniques used in the dishes.

The recently opened Flores Restaurant location, on Congress Street a block from the Portland Public Library. Photo by Ray Routhier

I ordered our dinner from Flores’ new location that opened in mid-September about a block from the Portland Public Library on Congress Street. The original Flores is on the other end of Congress Street in the Parkside neighborhood. It’s mostly a lunch takeout spot with just nine seats and no bar. The new location has a colorful interior, a full bar and seating for about 45 people.

Though it was an inviting interior, Dinah and I really wanted to eat takeout on the couch. I had ordered our food online around 3 p.m. on a Saturday, in between chores and college football games, and selected a pickup time of 6:30 p.m. When I got there, I had to wait about five minutes for my order.

Three soft corn tortilla tacos from Flores Restaurant, with pork, queso fresco, cabbage, pico and avocado salsa on the side. Photo by Ray Routhier

Right away, when we opened our food, Dinah and I saw a difference from other tacos and nachos we’ve had. There was no red, tomato-based salsa or sauces. The huge order of nachos ($12) was covered with chicken, queso fresco cheese, Salvadoran cabbage, pico, avocado salsa and crema. The tortilla chips were homemade and held all the heavy toppings. Overall, it was a tasty dish, with a savory but not spicy flavor.

We also split a hearty grilled burrito with beef, plantain, rice, beans and sour cream ($12). It was very creamy inside and the beef had a nice char on it. We couldn’t figure out exactly what the brownish sauce was that came on the side, but we really liked it. Again, not spicy but very tasty.

A grilled burrito from Flores Restaurant with beef, plantain, rice, beans and sour cream. Photo by Ray Routhier

We also got three soft corn tortilla tacos with pork, queso fresco, cabbage, pico and avocado salsa on the side ($12). They were among the tastiest tacos I’ve had. I liked that they were in two fairly thick tortillas that held all the fillings well.

The three dishes I tried made me want to try some of the more adventurous (for me, anyway) dishes at Flores. There are stews and main dishes for $15 to $20, which is more than some might want to spend on a quick takeout meal. But there are lots of appetizers and other dishes between about $8 and $12, including pupusas, fried taquitos, seared scallops, enchiladas and empanadas.

I know what most of those dishes are, but I’m eager to taste the Flores version.


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