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Skip the Pupusas, Go for the Chicharrones at La Cabana Salvadorena 2

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[Photographs: Chris Crowley]

We went to La Cabana Salvadorena 2, a Bedford Park outpost of a popular Washington Heights restaurant, in search of their chilate con nuegados: a dish of creamy corn soup seasoned simply with salt and black pepper, served with fried yucca or corn drizzled with brown sugar.

But I found solace in an Atolelote ($2), a sweet buffer against the cold. Alongside this drink I ordered a pair of pupusas and, more importantly, Yuca con Chicharron ($7; here, fried pork belly).

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One of my pupusas was the standard Revueltas ($1.50), which was fine for this otherwise pupusa-free 'hood but has nothing on some of the better options in the Bronx. The other was a Pupusa de Harina de Arroz ($2), a style I had not previously tried. But my excitement faded to disappointment on first bite, as the chicharron (here, puréed pork) was dry and the rice cake pupusa one dimensionally crisp and even gritty.

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The saving grace is that yuca, a rich and hearty success in that fried fatty meat on fried fatty starch kind of way.

There's a some vinegar-light curtido strewn on top for a dash of brightness and relief from the otherwise heavy components of the plate; a little more vinegar would have gone a long way. The yuca needed a shake of salt and at this point in the evening verged on dry, but the chicharrones were some of the best I'd found in a borough where they're as common as a bialy once was on the Lower East Side. They were fried just right, with a crispy but not too crunchy skin and fat that was still rich and moist, neither too oily nor salty. With chicharrones like these we can forgive less than stellar yucca.

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Compliments of the kitchen came a a sweet quesadilla made with eggs, flour, milk, sugar, baking powder, and the Parmesan-like queso duro. It's soft, delicate, and soothingly sweet, with just a little bit of saltiness and a very welcome cheesy funk.

About the author: Chris Crowley is the author of the Bronx Eats and Anatomy of A Smorgasburg Pop Up columns. Follow him on Twitter, if you'd like. In person, your best bet is the window seat at Neerob, or waiting in line at the Lechonera La Piranha trailer.

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