Eat here: El Tamarindo

Hand patted cornmeal tamale stuffed with chicjen, carrots and potatoes steamed in a banana leaf wrapper at El Tamarindo Restaurant and Coal Fire PIzza in Hollywood. Photo: Linda Bladholm.

El Tamarindo Restaurant and Coal Fired Pizza is a family operation — a big family. Brothers Yecson and Alex Amaya own the 2-month-old Hallandale Beach eatery with their brother-in-law Sergio Romero. Their sister and wife Sonia does the bookkeeping here and at Fort Lauderdale’s El Tamarindo Café, which is run by brothers Antonio and Juan Carlos as part of the family company Amaya Romero.

The new Tamarindo has a wood- and coal-fired brick oven (inherited from the previous owner) that reaches 900 degrees, making for blistered, thin-crust pizzas and flat breads. Earth tones, cream accents and banquettes make for a more stylish setting than you find at most local Salvadoran places. Salvadoran cuisine combines Spanish and native Maya, Lenca and Pipil influences. Casamiento (rice and beans) is the staple, eaten with corn tortillas. Not to be missed are the tamales de elote, fresh corn tamales served with sour cream sauce. Hand tamales are larger, formed from cornmeal masa (dough), stuffed with chunks of chicken, carrot and potato in mole sauce and steamed in fresh banana leaves.

Soups are popular in El Salvador, and Tamarindo has a special one each day. Watch for crema mariscos, a seafood soup in a base of coconut milk, crab stock and mild yellow curry with shrimp and chunks of zucchini and potato. Another seafood soup, mariscada, is always on the menu. It has clams, langostino, squid rings, mussels, shrimp, a whole crab and half a tilapia fillet in rich stock, good with fresh-baked focaccia and a glass of tart-sweet tamarind juice over ice. Meat lovers will enjoy carne asada, tender pounded flank steak marinated in garlicky chimichurri sauce and broiled. It’s served with sweet plantains or tostones, rice, red beans cooked with cilantro and a side salad.

If you cant decide between seafood and meat, get the marimonte, broiled steak with grilled shrimp and a choice of two sides. House-made coconut flan or mango cheesecake pie with cookie crust end a
visit here on a sweet note.

El Tamarindo Restaurant and Coal Fired Pizza, 712 Atlantic Shores Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 954-456-4447. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Appetizers $4-$8, soup $3-$6, pizza $8-$12, entrees $7-$17

Published: 9/08

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