Illustrations and photos by Andrew Abbott
Taqueria El Carrizal
254 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134
Before I get into this weeks post I’d like to take you, the reader, into the Boston Gastronaut’s very own time machine and go back to March 19th to add onto the post from couple weeks back. Seeing that I missed the week Che went to Machu Picchu for beef hearts and tripe, I met him there this past Tuesday to conduct our interview with Emily Gonzalez of Blast Magazine. The interview went well and if you’ve already read the article you can tell we had a lot of fun. The food was also pretty amazing. Needless to say it made me regret missing it the first time. What most people don’t think about is that the meat they’re usually eating is muscle. So when confronted with beef heart you should just know that you’re essentially eating the same thing. The beef heart was served on skewers and if you hadn’t been told it was beef heart in the first place you probably couldn’t tell the difference between it and any other cut of beef beyond the fact that its much more tender. The way it’s prepared and served with fresh corn and potatoes is really simple but perfect.
The tripe came the same way. Tripe on the other hand is a bit different. We’re talking about organ meat here so there’s possibility of texture issues for some people. The best comparison I could draw, for myself anyway, was it was a lot like beef flavored calamari. The consistency was a little bit firmer than straight beef fat and it was chewy like squid. So if you don’t dig chewiness then tripe might not be for you but I urge anyone to try it if given the chance. The beef flavor was strong throughout the tripe which was nice. Both dishes were accompanied by different sauces. One was a bit spicy the other more savory and both were creamy in their base. They also gave us “fancy” ketchup. I’d definitely recommend both the hearts and tripe for anyone new to adventurous eating. (Jumps back into the time machine)
So this week part time Gastronaut and full time roomate Mike took me to one of his favorite spots near our apartment. El Carrizal boasts having Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan food on the menu. It’s quite an impressive array of choices you have going in there. We got there around lunch time and the place was packed. We got one of the last tables which could seat four when Mike told me about how once when he was there on an equally crowded day they sat him down with a table already full of people eating. I was thinking we were about to end up having lunch with two complete strangers, but the crowd started to thin out and we ended up keeping our own table. Not that I would’ve had any problem eating with strangers. If anything it would’ve added to the experience. Everyone at the restaurant was really nice and the service was good.
Hearing that the pupusas were tasty there I ordered some of those to start. Pupusas are the Salvadorian equivalent of pita bread. They’re like thick tortillas fried and then filled with some combination of cheese, meat, beans, or veggies. What doesn’t sound good there? That’s right. Nothing! The Carrizal pupusas were filled with pork and cheese and served with jalapeno coleslaw and some zesty red sauce. Nothing to strange here just incredibly delicious. They also had pupusas served with beans and squash. I’m assuming those were the vegetarian option, and would also be quite delicious.
On the menu they have what’s listed as the “Mexican Sandwich”. It comes with cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and spicy habanero sauce all stacked on a nice airy loaf of white bread. You get to choose what kinda meat they stuff in there. Your choices are beef (alright), chicken (okay), and lengua (whaaaaat?). That last one’s the tongue meat. It’s chopped up and spiced up and covered in melted cheese so really it’s kind of hard to taste it with everything going on in this sandwich. There’s a ton of lengua on the sandwich itself so every once in a while you get a big mouthful of it. Again the tongue is another muscle that people shouldn’t over think eating because it’s not much different from any other beef you’d eat. It’s apparently much more fatty then a normal cut of beef. I also felt it was much more tender, almost like stew beef. The cavemen loved to eat it back in the Paleolithic era according to Wikipedia. Not that they had that many good ideas back then, but they did manage to figure out fire. So if you feel up to it, release your inner caveman and eat some beef tongue cause its really quite delicious.