I so wish this place had been there when I had to do my stint in Santa Clara /San Jose for a few years (Before all you guys and girls; we were just getting the Internet online LOL). You are all lucky now, when we lived there ONLY Original Joe’s in Downtown San Jose (Trust me we were regulars there) was open when they finally let us out of those high tech labs!
Okay, Enjoy the Honduran food!
Maya’s Cafe, a small eatery in San Jose’s Cambrian Park neighborhood, offers a wide swath of Mexican dishes, as well as Salvadoran pupusas.
But we were here to try the baleadas, tajadas and chuletas — the less-familiar cuisine of Honduras.
On the weekend afternoon we stopped by for some culinary exploration, most of the dozen or so tables at this strip-mall restaurant were filled. We started with the Honduran side of the menu and saw that most choices featured plantains or Central American-style cheese and crema, or sour cream. One example: the traditional Honduran breakfast ($8.99) has the expected eggs and beans, complemented with plantains, cheese and crema. That’s the kind of comfort food my family would enjoy on Sunday mornings when I was growing up.
Many dishes come with your choice of handmade flour or corn tortillas. We opted for corn and were happy when the warm tortillas arrived, tastier and thicker than the ones you get at the grocery store.
I asked our waitress if she could recommend one of the Honduran choices. She motioned to the neighboring tables. Almost each one had at least one big bowl of seafood soup ($13.99).
We ordered one for our table. The broth was rich with coconut milk and reminded us of Thai curry — but without the curry, of course. The bowl was filled with a generous helping of seafood: fish, scallops, shrimp, clams and a big spiky crab leg. We also found chunks of yuca (cassava root) and plantains, another nod to the soup’s tropical roots. It was a tasty, memorable dish; the combined flavors hit just the right balance of rich-sweet-savory notes.
We also tried the baleadas, popular snacks in Honduras that are similar to Mexican quesadillas. The regular baleada ($2.50) was a flour tortilla folded over refried beans, soft cheese and crema. The super baleada ($3) was stuffed with the same fillings, plus scrambled egg and avocado.
The waitress also pointed us to the fried chicken plate ($10 for the leg/thigh plate; $11 for breast/wing). Each big piece of chicken arrived super crisp — a bit too crispy — from the fryer on a bed of tajadas (slices of fried plantain) and shredded cabbage. It was topped with a mild, savory tomato sauce.
Other Honduran options: chuletas sampedrana ($10), pork chops smothered in traditional sauce; and tajadas with ground meat ($9).
If the plantains and baleadas aren’t your thing, Maya’s Cafe also has a solid selection of Mexican food. The offerings are expected: tacos (from $2.50), burritos (from $6) and enchiladas ($7.50). However, we were pleasantly surprised when the starter basket of chips arrived with a dish of warm refried beans for dipping instead of the usual salsa.
Or you could go with the Salvadoran option that pleases most people: pupusas. The cheese ones ($2.50 each) we ordered arrived hot off the grill but without the traditional curtido (pickled cabbage salad). It didn’t matter to my young lunch companion, who gobbled them up anyway. If you prefer heartier versions, go for the pupusas filled with beans, pork and cheese ($3).
Contact Natalie Martinez via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where: 2616 Union Ave.,
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays;
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays
Types of food: Honduran, Mexican, Salvadoran
Average meal price:
Good choices: Seafood soup, pupusas
Attitude: Friendly, casual
Vegetarian options: Lots
of seafood options
Drinks: Fountain drinks, beer, wine
Eat in car: Not so much
Next-day edibility: Soups would be perfect for leftovers
Who goes there: Families, local residents
Credit cards: All major ones
Parking: In strip-mall parking lot
Restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously The Mercury News pays for all meals.
(We do the same at Honduras.com
Editors Note: Now, when they finally let all you high tech people out of those cubicles, come visit us in Honduras and have MORE great Honduras food!
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