Elsi's: The lost breakup letter

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 07.16.12
We all have relationships we regret. One-night passions fueled by adventure and alcohol. I’m talking about restaurants, you single-minded romantics. For Valentine’s Day at the Statesman last year, I wrote letters to all the grills I’ve loved before. A round-up of Latin American restaurants, each one a melange of affection and forlorn. Sao Paulo’s, Gloria’s, Buenos Aires, Casa Colombia. Rio’s. Even La Sombra and El Arbol, both gone now.
And then there was Elsi’s, my Salvadoran fling on Burnet Road. My love letter was more like a breakup note, and my editors killed it. No place for bitter restaurant romance in print. But I kept the letter, and now that Elsi’s has closed, I’m sharing it with you.
To all the grills I’ve loved before: Elsi’s
That's the last time I let a shaker-full of Mexican martinis do my thinking for me. She was having a bad night, and the whole plate of Salvadoran appetizers was a disaster. An empanada of spicy ground beef and another with spinach and mushroom were greasy and tough, ruined by dirty oil and bad frying. A thin, soggy pupusa didn't cheer things up, and neither did the bitter fried shell of a Salvadoran enchilada, more like a bean chalupa with wilted cabbage standing in for lettuce. What was left for us to talk about? Chips and hot sauce and that big, sugary glass of tequila and olive juice.
(Photos by Mike Sutter)