Dining by the Alphabet: Usuloteco

Well college basketball has kept me busy and I think I’m finally over the Shocker basketball loss so I can now write this up for you all. Letter U……many of you by now know where we want so let’s get on to business.

Usuluteco Restaurant

1714 East Northern Street  Wichita, KS 67216
(316) 409-3820
Usuluteco Restaurant is what I believe to be the only Salvadoran restaurant in Wichita. They serve a wide range of authentic Salvadoran food. Curious what exactly is Salvadoran food? I wikipedia’d it and this is what I found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvadoran_cuisine
Usuluteco is located on the south side of Wichita near Hydraulic and Pawnee. It’s kind of off the beaten path so make sure you Google map it or something. Upon walking inside the place wasn’t too busy. Inside the building, there is 4 free standing tables that seat four to six people, 4 booths that seat the same and 11 seats at the bar.
The departments of El Salvador
I was kindly greeted by an older gentleman. Since I was the first person in my group to arrive I striked up a conversation with the man and he told me they’ve been around for about 7-8 years. I asked him where the name Usuluteco came from and he walked me towards a map they had up of El Salvador. Quick history and geography lesson folks. El Salvador is split up into many different departments or as we U.S. citizens could compare it to, “states”. Usulutan is one of them. It’s actually the largest of the departments with a population of 350,000. It was founded in 1865 when all of you were still not in existence….well I have one friend that may have been born at the time. He’s old. Anyways, Usuluteco’ s name derives from that department in El Salvador.
Shortly after, my group of six other friends arrived. One of them is less than a year old so she would not be participating in our authentic dinner. My official guest diner for Usuluteco was Emily. She’s been with us for Marchello’s officially but has joined me in many other dinners.
Once we were all seated, most of the guys at the group ordered a round of beers from Usuluteco’s authentic offerings of Caribbean beers. I went with the Estrella Damn just because it had the word damn in it and I could say it over and over without it being profanity. It said Barcelona on it so I’m assuming it’s from Spain unless there’s a Barcelona, Delaware or Michigan…….
The ever so delicious pupusas.
The one thing I heard is a must order is their pupusas. They are thick handmade stuffed corn tortillas filled with a variety of ingredients. We went with their revueltas pupusas which is filled with ground pork mixed with cheese. It runs $5.85 and comes with three. It’s served with a side of pickled cabbage that you can place on top and hot sauce if you want it. These were absolutely delicious. I share Emily’s sentiment that if you ever go, you must try the pupusas. She said next time she goes she would just get the pupusas. They could make a great meal if you had enough to eat. Can’t stress enough that this was probably the highlight of the meal. By the way, this is not foreshadowing of a bad review.
Pickled cabbage for the pupusas.
Next up was our decision for what to eat. I asked our server who was also the kind older gentlemen what to order and he mentioned the top five items on their Platillos Especiales were their most popular. With that said I went with the “Bistec Encebollado” (top sirloin steak topped with onions, tomato and green peppers). Emily went with the “Pollo Guisada” (sautéed chicken carrots and potatoes). All meals were served with rice, beans and two tortillas. Both meals ran $8.49. All other meals on the Platillos Especiales list were either $8.49 or $9.99.
Bistec Encebollado
Pollo Guisada
After a while, the food came out. Everybody’s first bite was the rice. It was estrella DAMN good rice. Some of the best rice I’ve ever had in a restaurant and if you know me…..I know my rice. Other commented on how delicious the rice was. If the United States ever decided to get rid of the letter N, I’d recommend “R” to double up as letters, “N” and “R” because that would make the rice at Usuluteco really rice. Emily mentioned the chicken in her meal was all dark meat which she was cool with but others might not like. She liked that the food had a Latin flair but wasn’t overpoweringly Mexican…not a lot of cumin or cilantro. She felt that the tortillas were not what she was expecting as they weren’t really thick and not like traditional Mexican tortillas at all. She wasn’t a big fan of the non-pupusa tortilla. Admittedly, I don’t even think I tried their tortilla. Once I started on the rice, I went directly to the top sirloin steak which was mixed in a sauce with onions, tomatoes and green peppers. Really really good stuff. I was able to finish the meal and was stuffed but managed to fit in another pupusa before I threw in the towel.  
Just listening around the table and others opinions on food, they all seemed to enjoy their meals very much and were satisfied with what they ordered. Here are some pics of what others ordered:
Tamales de Pollo
“Chicken Tamale”

Carne Desebrada
“shredded beef with onions and green pepper”
Emily thought the experience was really fun. It would be a great place for a first or second date when you are looking for something unusual or new to try. The food is different enough that would have something fun to talk about. Despite being way out west, she would go again.
I liked how I didn’t have to wait in line in the rain to get food like I did at Chick-Fil-A.
The service was a one man show; well two if you include the cook. Business started to pick up a little as the day went on so service was a wee bit slower. But that’s ma and pop restaurants stay alive with their limited family staffing. So we’ll give them a break in that department. Prices were fair and comparable to what you would spend at any other restaurant for a dinner and an appetizer.
That brings us to rating time. Emily decided to give Usuluteco a 3.75 out of 5. (She did mention had she only eaten the Pupusa and rice it would be closer to 4.25). I, on the other hand, gave them a 4.5 out of 5. I liked it all from the food, friendliness of service to the atmosphere which didn’t feel so corporately owned. I felt for a second there I was in Usulután which I’m not sure if you’ve heard, is the largest department in El Salvador. Some of the best beaches located in El Salvador are in Usulután. End of side note. So that gives Usuluteco Restaurant a final score of 4.125. Anything over a 4 is a great score for Wichita By E.B. I think that’s a definite recommendation from us.

I want to thank Emily and the rest of the gang that joined me. Great times as always.

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