"El Sombrerito", A Bit of El Salvador in Beltsville, Maryland, USA

Anna Alvarez with Ian G. Hall
Ana's Platter at "El Sombrerito" in Beltsville, Maryland

Last week the Washington Post ran an article on the 10 best places to eat in Beltsville. True, Beltsville is not the first place that usually pops into my mind as a dining destination, but I do like foods that are authentic to their origins and these top 10 were all “ethnic” foods.

Saturday afternoon seemed as good a time as any to start my exploration of the list. However it seemed like I wasn't the only one who had read the article. My first choice was standing room only so we headed to El Sombrerito Tex Mex restaurant.

Sitting next to a tire shop on Route 1, El Sombrerito strikes you immediately as one of those places that locals like to keep to themselves. Televisions are on all the walls and soccer is playing on at least three. In one corner is a very impressive and very modern looking juke box that was on constant play.

As soon as you walk in a smiling waitress shows you to a seat and within minutes warm chips and a nice salsa are in front of you. The place was buzzing with a clientele that couldn't be more diverse; hipsters, and grannies, and families with young children, black, white, hispanic.

My wife and I ordered a Margarita (on the rocks with salt) and a cola champagne soda. The chips were so good we quickly ran through them and the nice waitress helpfully brought a fresh pairing on request.

We both ended up ordering the same dish with slight variations. My wife ordered Ana's Platter, seasoned rice, refried beans, Mexican eggs (scrambled with green peppers, onions, tomatoes), sour cream, Salvadoran cheese and finally slices of soft, perfectly ripe avocado. I ordered the Paisano dish which mirrored Ana's Platter with two additions; fried plantain and steak.

Both dishes were very good. Scrambled eggs seem like the should be easy to do but not everyone does them well, either too hard or bordering raw. These were just right and nicely seasoned. Likewise the rice. I like my refried beans to have a little more substance, these were very smooth (probably put through a blender), but again they were very well seasoned and on the rice just simply tasty. I forgot one additional item; a tortilla which came to the table hot. I'm not a fan of the cheese, but that did not spoil an overall delicious meal. My steak was well cooked and the plaintains were fried sweet and dark.

Although this is listed as Tex-Mex the food we ordered was Salvadoran. We had an opportunity to talk to the owner Ana Alvarex and she told us next time we have to try the Pupusas.

We enjoyed the food, the atmosphere (Pitbull to Chicago on the jukebox), and the service. Our meal including drinks was $35, a bargain when you take into account that the portions were a good size, we both were  completely satisfied when we put down our forks.

We are off to a good start on our Beltsville, MD dining journey; the plan is to try all the restaurants by the summer. Stay tuned for more reviews.

Sombrerito, Tex-Mex Resturant
11510 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705
(301) 931-2223

Nice place, the salsa of this restaurant was medium but the non veg were awesome. Overall the restaurant is amazing.

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