Sometimes you have to uncover the true beauty of something beneath what people think you want.
Serving both Mexican and Salvadoran food, Los Trios No. 2 on Pio Nono Avenue does not need to offer the bland Tex-Mex they may think Middle Georgians want. The Salvadoran food is much more interesting and well made.
Not knowing this at first, we visited on a weekday night and ordered off the printed menu. While the service was friendly and helpful, the food was just OK. The cheese dip came to the table already with a very thick skin; the Los Trios dip was a shallow bowl of cheese containing shrimp, beef and chicken that all tasted like shrimp; and the salsa was thin and black peppery. The standouts were the tasty steak burrito, the chicken quesadilla and the freshly made refried black beans.
Wanting it to be better, we decided we should make another trip. This time we went for lunch and were surrounded by folks of all ethnic backgrounds. We ordered the specialties of El Salvador, where the cook is from. Instead of ordering from the printed menu, we perused the picture menu above the cash register and asked for descriptions of each item. We also ordered off of the hand-printed menu that comes along with every machine-printed one.
From the picture menu, we ordered the papusas and the tamales de elote. Salvadoran food is even more dependent on corn than Mexican cuisine and both of these dishes are created with masa, a dough made from dried corn.
The papusas come in four different flavors: cheese, pork and cheese (called “mix” here), bean and cheese, and loroco and cheese. (Loroco is an herb with a squash-like flavor and is said to be an aphrodisiac.) Unlike tacos or burritos, papusas are patted together with the filling inside before they are fried. They come served here with curtido, a very colorful, slightly fermented cabbage salad.
The tamales de elote are similar to Mexican tamales but here they are sweetish and not filled with anything. They’re served with Salvadoran hard cheese and homemade sour cream. Other dishes on the picture menu that look worth trying are the caldo de res (beef stew) and carne asada. They also have a delicious-looking photo of fajitas on their Facebook page, but we didn’t see anything similar on other tables while we were there.
Let’s encourage Los Trios No. 2 to shine the light on their real specialty, the Salvadoran fare. Sure, some folks will order the things that sound familiar, but if everyone will give the more exotic cuisine a chance, maybe we can continue to broaden our Middle Georgian palates. Tongue tacos, anyone?
Los Trios No. 2
Address: 4351 Pio Nono Ave., Macon
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 91
Price range: $5.99-$9.99
Rating: 2.5 stars