Abi’s Cafe

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There is no way I would have ever known about Abi’s Cafe. It doesn’t come up on the usual lists put out by the most well-known publications. The only reason I heard about was this because of this story.

I rarely watch the news on TV, but I overheard this in the background one day and thought, “Where is that?” The next day Rob sent me this article. It’s really worth a read, especially if you weren’t in a position to view the video. But in a nutshell, a homeless man came into her restaurant one day begging for money. Rather than sending him packing, she gave him a job.

It’s been on my restaurant wishlist to try ever since.

But that newsworthy piece is only the reason that prompted me to look up the restaurant. After discovering it was El Salvadorian {aka Salvadoran}, a cuisine I’d never had before, I was even more intrigued. I started to do some research on what was the best to try there – and on both Yelp and Facebook, ratings popped up at 5 Stars.

5 SOLID STARS

I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. So when it was my choice for Girls’ Dinner Night Out this month, Abi’s Cafe was my pick!

Abi’s has no website other than Facebook, nor any true menu listed online; so I’m providing my photos to you for your viewing pleasure along with our food. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were lucky to be served by the owner! She is a friendly, upbeat, helpful woman who really wanted us to experience what they have to offer. We asked a lot of questions!

You’ll find that there is a mix of the traditional Latin food that we are all aware of along with some dishes more likely to be found in El Salvador.

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We didn’t order any the appetizers listed below because we wanted to try the pupusas, that are all the rage on Yelp as the best and most authentic in the Twin Cities.

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Still we started with some drinks that we highly believe were made from scratch. They took a while and we could hear them whirring the machine in back!

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They were listed under the Naturales portion of the menu, which she highly recommended. These non-alcoholic beverages were absolutely fantastic! So fresh-tasting and refreshing.

Cantalope {recommended, but not on the menu!}, Limonata, piña

Cantaloupe {recommended, but not on the menu!}, Limonata, Piña

Since her recommendations were spot on from the get-go, we all ordered recommended menu items.

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Jen got the Combination Platter so she could try a bit of everything.

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Combinación Guanaca platter of Salvadoran favorites: mixed pupusa, tamale, plantains, rice and refried beans – $12.99

She had enough food to take home for one or two more meals! And those plantains were some of the sweetest I’ve had. Here are some other “Salvadoran Cravings”:

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Kim went with an assortment of pupusas:

Before we all received our papusas, she brought these condiments to the table:

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She explained that the container was a sort of “Salvadoran cole slaw”. I would say it’s a cross between that and kimchi. It’s made with cabbage and I’m thinking vinegar. There are jalapenos somewhere in the mix, too; but very little. It’s more for flavor than an attempt to be spicy. The pourable container contains a tomato sauce that is a bit runnier than ketchup.

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Pupusas:

I tried the Queso con Loroco Papusa because it was recommended as unique. She described loroco as a special, unique flower native to Latin America. She said the closest flavor description people give for loroco is asparagus; but she didn’t think that was quite accurate. We think that it was a decent comparison. That being said, my favorite of the papusas was the Revuletas – made with pork rind {more like ground pork, just more flavorful}, beans and cheese.

I think the condiments along with the pupusas might be an acquired taste for those who are not used to them. But without them, the pupusas seem like they do need just a bit of sauce. I wanted a thicker one. But that’s just me. I don’t know anything about what Salvadoran cuisine should be like, so I’m not critiquing that in any way! I definitely can see how pupusas can be a sort of easy, portable food – like a quick, easy weekday lunch.

None of us ordered seafood, but if I’m sharing the menu with you, you must know that it is available!

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Along with my pupusa, I decided on another traditional dish that she recommended.

I was really unsure how to eat my Pan con Pollo {traditional Salvadoran chicken sandwich}. I got most of the chicken off the bone. Then I picked the sandwich up and took a bite, as most of the sandwich fell apart. It’s one of those messy sandwiches! The flavors were good though, and I basically ate all of the sandwich filling.

I’d highly recommend stopping at this tiny restaurant on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. Abi’s Cafe offers cuisine that you can’t find many places. Our service was impeccable and some of the friendliest I’ve had. As we were leaving the owner told us to “Have a good night! Or is it evening? I’m still learning!” I would have never known that she wasn’t fluent in English. Not in the way she described dishes and made recommendations. It just seemed so natural. 🙂

Have you ever been introduced to a restaurant for a reason other than it’s food?

Have you ever had El Salvadoran Cuisine?

If so, what’s your favorite item/dish?

What would you try off this menu?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

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