Chicken in cream sauce with onions
La Curva is a very famous family chain in El Salvador, and there's also a location in East LA. I know some of you may wary of visiting East LA, but don't be-- the restaurant is located on the corner of a bustling street, and at least during the day, when I went, everything was perfectly safe.
This was my first experience with food from El Salvador. The dishes on the menu definitely had similarities with foods from other Spanish-speaking countries, but you won't find any tacos, enchiladas, tortas, or fajitas here.
La Curva is a seafood restaurant, serving mostly shellfish--fortunately though, even those of you who are allergic to shellfish can find safe items like calamari, chicken, or beef. If you're really allergic though, you should probably avoid this restaurant, just to be safe.
The first of three dishes we tried was the chicken in cream sauce with onions. The sauce was flavorful, but on the salty side--possibly too salty for anyone who hasn't eaten a lot of Spanish food. The chicken came on the bone, which we weren't expecting, so the actual portion of edible meat was pretty small--strange, considering that chicken isn't an expensive item and the restaurant generally seems generous with their portions. Also, we were expecting the onions to be thoroughly cooked into the sauce, rather than piles of still crunchy onions on top (they do this at Versailles, too).
The plates are enormous!
Most entrees at La Curva are under $10, but the plates are at least twice as big as an ordinary plate, giving you serious bang for your buck. Everything comes with soft, fluffy rice and ordinary refried beans, plus a bit of guacamole and pico de gallo.
To drink, we all had horchata that was good enough for seconds and thirds. Horchata is a sweet drink made from rice with a hint of cinnamon. They also have a typical selection of aguas frescas, or fruit flavored waters: tamarindo (tamarind), jamaica (hibiscus), and a couple of others. I also tried the tamarindo, and was surprised at how concentrated it was--I'm used to these drinks being incredibly watered down. It was also much sweeter and a bit thicker than I'm used to--tamarind, by itself, is mouth-puckeringly sour. La Curva's tamarind drink was more like a nectar. Come to think of it, maybe it was!
My friend ordered the carne asada, a long, thin piece of grilled beef. He liked it a lot. It had a nice marinated flavor, but I thought the meat was a little chewy.
Calamares al ajillo
My plate of calamares al ajillo, or calamari sauteed with garlic, was the best calamari I've ever had. If you've ever thought of calamari as rubbery, La Curva will change your mind. The calamari were tender, and as the name suggests, there was plenty of garlic--but not so much that I could taste it for the next two days. Surprisingly, this dish also reheated well.
One small part of the enormous dining room
All of the staff that we interacted with--we had three different waitresses over the course of our meal--spoke very little English. Fortunately, I'm bilingual, so it was fun for me. Don't be intimidated if you don't speak Spanish, though--the menu is bilingual, and pointing, gesturing, and smiling will get you almost anything you need in a restaurant.
You can park for free in the lot behind the restaurant, but if you have a larger vehicle, it will be a tight fit--the aisles are very narrow. The restaurant sometimes has live entertainment, but they were just starting to set up for it when we were ending our late lunch around 3:00. It was pretty quiet on an early Sunday afternoon, but I have a feeling it's quiet loud and festive at other times--so call ahead if you want to find out what you're in for.
If you've been to La Curva, how was your experience? Leave a comment!
4901 Whittier Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90022
La Curva Menu