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Cheap Eats

El Salto

A sprawling menu, heaping portions, and fair-to-middling food

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Jenn Ladd

El Salto

5513 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park, (410) 789-1621

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Brooklyn’s El Salto shares a depressing lot with a shuttered cocktail lounge and a dreary health center. Thankfully, the restaurant’s cheerful atmosphere cancels out its location: Peppy Latin music plays; a handy glossary of Mexican cuisine on the menu informs you of the correct pronunciation of chile relleno; waiters zip around the room, their forearms obscured by oven mitts, usually bearing at least three steaming plates per arm. You hardly have time to make a dent in the complimentary basket of tortilla chips and carafe of salsa before your server delivers your entree. The filling in the chimichangas ($8.15) hit the spot, as did the pool of refried beans that swallowed the rest of the plate. The seasoned rice that came with the Pollo Loco ($10.95) made up for the less-than-stellar chicken. Beef tacos ($1.75 for hard shell; $1.85 for soft shell) were run-of-the-mill, stuffed with only lettuce, cheese, and a little meat. Our waitress discouraged us from ordering the sopapilla, noting that it wasn’t as good as other restaurants’ sopapillas, and instead recommended the xango, a fried tortilla stuffed with cheesecake, or the flan. We chose the creamy, caramel-laden flan ($2.60), puzzlingly topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry (which we promptly scraped off). With heaping portions, fair-to-middling food, and a sprawling menu that offers 30 combos costing $7.95 or less, El Salto is the soundest alternative to the gazillion chain restaurants that line Ritchie Highway.

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