Sometimes a good tostada is all you need to fill you up. Crisp, tasty, and packed with delicious toppings, it can be the perfect light snack to keep you going on a busy day. Fortunately, El Salva Mex on San Pablo Avenue just south of Potrero offers some of the most delicious — and inexpensive — tostada in the area.
El Salva Mex itself is unassuming. The interior is dim, scratchy, indistinguishable music plays over the speakers and the service is minimal. It’s the kind of place where you get your food and get out.
The small Salvadorian and Mexican place gets away with its less than charming atmosphere by spoiling patrons with food that is surprisingly fresh and flavorful.
A shining example of this is their fish ceviche tostada. The flat, fried tortilla is stacked high with small pieces of raw fish soaked in lime and garnished with fat slices of avocado and torn cilantro.
The first bite can be a little awkward, as you crunch into the tortilla and inevitably send pieces of fish flying down the sides of your face. If you haven’t put a napkin in your lap by this point, now is a good time to do so. But it’s smooth sailing once you reach the fish. The chewy, light, and fresh fish is the perfect contrast to the crispness of the tortilla. The fattiness of the avocado, too, works to enhance the layers of flavor of this dish.
While it’s a simple meal with really just three ingredients — fish, tortilla, and avocado — the flavors are perfectly balanced, and it hits all the right notes.
The only critique is that the ceviche may be perhaps a bit too limey, which is a personal preference. I found their red salsa helps counter this and adds a new dimension to the meal.
It’s this sort of simple, fast food that El Salva Mex is all about. The simple presentation of the meal — just two tostada placed on a white plate — and the not too clean environment are besides the point. You go there for tasty, authentic Salvadorian and Mexican food, and you leave satisfied.
The meal itself was remarkably cheap, too. It was only $6.25 for the two tostadas and chips and salsa. That’s less than you would pay for a single burrito at many restaurants in the area, and the quality likely wouldn’t be as good.
What makes El Salva Mex great is its simplicity. Go in, eat a delicious tostada, get on your way. When you’re in a rush but need to get a quick bite to eat, El Salva Mex has you covered.
El Salva Mex
11252 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
Tel. (510) 234-1066
Monday - Saturday: 11 am to 10 pm
Sunday: 1 pm to 10 pm
View their Yelp page here.