I am pretty psyched to be talking about Olivo’s because it is one of my favorite favorite neighborhood spots. It’s nice to write about a place I can say I like with next to no qualifiers.
Olivo’s can seem kind of sinister if you’ve never been there before. It’s next door to a pretty grody laundromat and the sidewalks are pretty much abandoned, save for some transexual prostitutes. Once I saw someone buying crack almost right in front of Olivo’s. Actually, it’s a pretty funny story; the drug dealer and the crackhead tried to have this really sneaky handoff, it was pretty obvious but at least they tried. The crackhead put the drugs in his mouth and started to walk off; he abruptly turned around, took the drugs out of his mouth and handed them back to the drug dealer, saying “hey, this isn’t what I wanted…” Good stuff, huh? You know what though, you should not let this scare you away from Olivo’s, it would be a damn shame. Unless you prompt them in some way, drug dealers aren’t going to bother you. And, as long as you’re obviously not selling crack, neither will crack heads. And tranny hookers won’t bother you either, I promise. Unless you want them to, that’s another story.
Anyway, Olivo’s! Olivo’s serves Salvodorean food, which may be my very favorite cuisine, based on one delectable treat: the pupusa. Holy geeze do I love pupusas. If you’ve never had a pupusa, you need to drop everything and get one right the fuck NOW. They are kind of like stuffed tortillas, but not dry, very moist, dense, flat corn cakes with a filling of cheese or beans or whatever. I like the cheese ones the best because I am a purist. Pupusas are generally served with curtido which is a vinegary cabbage salad. It’s off the hook. Olivo’s as far as I know has the best pupusas this side of Market, which is reason enough to go there.
I actually did not get a pupusa the other night at Olivo’s because I wanted to try something new. I am really into trying new things, by the way. So I ordered the carne asada con curtido y yucca frita. That equaled large hunks of fried yucca, a big pile of the deliciousness that is curtido and the biggest steak I have ever seen in my entire life. (I don’t have pictures at the moment, but I’m hoping to get some for you soon.) It must have been nearly a foot long, the ends were falling off the plate. I think my jaw dropped when the waitress set it in front of me because she laughed and said, “it’s big, huh?” The craziest part: it was ten bucks. So, you’re thinking, ten bucks, that must have been one crap steak. Well, nu-uh. It was awesome. I was shocked by how tender it was. It was cooked perfectly medium rare and was simply swimming in jus. I dipped my yucca in it and that was some good thinking on my part. The fried yucca was similar in taste and texture to french fried potatoes but the crispy fried crust was thicker and chewier, yielding to a moist but flaky interior. My only qualm with the yucca was that some of it was a little stringy, but that’s to be expected. Anyway, the salty citrusy juices from the steak made up for anything lacking in the yucca. The curtido was, as expected, exceptionally good. Sometimes I’ve come across curtido that has a bit of a barnyard quality to it; I believe it is lightly pickled, and if it ferments it can have a hay-like taste that I don’t care for. Olivo’s curtido is always fresh and crisp. Yum.
Steve ordered a combination plate, I can’t remember the price for two items, sorry, but it’s cheap. He got a tostada and a quesadilla. I didn’t try the tostada because he gobbled it down right quick, but I tried the quesadilla. Salvadorean quesadillas aren’t like the ones you’ve had before, a bit of cheese and maybe some meat and veggies in a tortilla that’s been folded in half like a crepe and made super crispy in a pan or on the grill. Salvadorean quesadillas are more like burritos, but instead of beans and rice making up the bulk of it, it is stuffed to the gills with CHEESE. No kidding. Steve had meat (I think carne asada) in his, but it’s really all about the cheese. I don’t know how they do it, but Olivo’s manages to make this simply decadent, without making it also kind of gross. They are geniuses.
Olivo’s has a good beer list, the prices are pretty reasonable. There’s a giant bottle of beer you can get, I think it’s called Regina? but it’s an insanely good deal. We have the same waitress every time we go, she young, kinda cute, definitely gruff but efficient and really accomodating. I know she likes to go clubbing because one friday night we were there and she was talking to another table full of guys about where she was going to go after work. I like eating in at Olivo’s because they have some cool decor up on the walls, foreign (I’m assuming El Salvadorean, but I can’t be positive) money and stuff like that. I want to try their breakfast soon, they advertise it in the window and it is crazy cheap. If they have lengua on special, order it, it will rock your world. They do it right there. But, my only negative, tacos are probably not the thing to order there. My personal belief, tacos should be ordered from a taco truck or taco stand or some other establishment that focuses on tacos. Otherwise, it’s a crapshoot.
1017 Larkin St
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