La Margarita Express for lunch

~by KandN

My summer is not complete if I haven't had a few opportunities to get together with friends for a relaxing lunch, with ample measures of companionship and laughter. This first lunch date destination was inspired by an article about La Margarita Express I browsed in the SJ. Just recently I learned La Margarita and La Margarita Express are two different restaurants, with different owners. Plus I've heard LM Express has some menu items most Salem Mexican restaurants don't offer.
I ended up arriving eight minutes early and decided to go ahead and get a table to wait for my dates, the two L's. The inside of the restaurant has a greater seating capacity than I would have guessed by looking at the street view. A basket of chips, salsa, beans and ice water, were brought to the table just minutes after I was seated. After calling my dates to let them know I was inside and seated, I settled in to digest the menu.
I was looking for the pupusas I'd read a previous comment about. I found it listed in one of the 3 specials, in a combo with a chimichanga. I noticed a few other entrees that tempted me, including pork cooked in a sauce with pineapple and figs.
Once the two L's arrived, they wanted to know what I was going to order. I told the two of them that I had it down to a choice between 2 out of the 3 specials. They each opted to order the two specials that were left. We all had a Santa Rosa Margarita (tequila, strawberries, creme liqueur) with our meals. The server said, "it's not very strong". Oh! Good! Perfect for lunch! We chattered and shared our latest news while waiting for our meal, barely noticing let alone touching the basket of chips.
When our food arrived we all took turns tasting each other's entrees. So good! The pupusas was very tasty and different. It looks like a pancake, light fluffy, round, BUT it's filled with pork, cheese, beans and ?. Not too much filling, but enough so that when you lift up one end you can see there's something sliding to the opposite side. I thought my cabbage salad, lightly seasoned pinto beans and rice, was a nice compliment to my 2 entrees.
L #1 said, "I had such a fun time today. My food (a quesadilla stacker) was delicious and the restaurant was bright and cheerful. I would go again. Thanks again for choosing a great place to eat."
L#2's lunch special was a Tequila Mango Chicken Burrito. I stole a small taste from her plate and thought the mango lent a flavorful sweetness to the dish.

The service was just right and no one complained when we stayed and visited for 2 and a half hours. I can't wait to take N.


Salem Man said...

Sounds yummy, especially the papusas. I'll have to give them a try next time. I bet my kids would like them. Great photos too. It's hard to get a good shot of food inside a restaurant.

Amber said...

This is my favorite restaurant in Salem. The owners are so nice and do a wonderful job balancing friendly and attentive service with delicious food.

KandN said...

I was sad it took me so long to try this place. Here's more on pupusas--

Anonymous said...

No explicit mention that the restaurant has a Salvadoran bent? It's a big part of what makes this place somewhat different.

KandN said...

Anonymous, I thought that's what I'd heard, but aside from the pupusa and cabbage salad, I didn't know what else had a Salvadoran bent on the menu. Is there a second menu, if not what other dishes should I have looked for?

KandN said...

N and I returned for our blood date last night. The dinner menu devotes a page to Salvadoran food and drink. We both chose a Salvadoran entree and beverage. It was a nice change from the standard Mexican fare--for one thing, I didn't feel overly stuffed at dinner's end. The light tomato sauce my shrimp came with was full of flavor and I enjoyed the rice and bean side. I'll add our dinner photos to the slide show above. If you click on the photo of the menu page, it should enlarge for possible reading.