Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nuevo Alba

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Nuevo Alba
208 E. Old Hickory Blvd.

Scouting the truly out of the way restaurants requires some assistance. Thankfully we get help from all sorts of good people. This latest tip comes from George, who bartends at FooBar. If he hadn’t told us about Nuevo Alba we never would have found it. The joint is wedged in the building that houses A.R.G Discount Tobacco, just down from the corner of Gallatin Pike and East Old Hickory Blvd. The family that runs Nuevo Alba has recently put up a banner in the gravel parking lot next to the restaurant. It’s worth the effort. Inside is a pleasant, robin egg blue dining room that proudly displays the flag of El Salvador, and a nice friendly environment for a family cooking up lunch.

Nuevo Alba appears to be a work in progress. The menu is a short, mixed bag of Mexican and El Salvadoran. The pupusa revuelta is crisp masa stuffed full of oozing beans and queso. The version one day makes it one of the best pupusas in town. The curtido slaw though doesn’t hold up the standard: it’s a rather boring chop of cabbage without much vinegar. The light tomato sauce served with it was lackluster on one visit and spicier on the next. Unfortunately the next pupusa, while still featuring that nicely crisp masa, was completely lacking in the pulled pork promised.

The pupusas are about the only thing truly El Salvadoran. There is an El Salvadoran touch to things, such as the seasoning on the chicken. The pollo asada is a chicken breast pounded flat and rubbed in spices. The slight char from the grill picks up the flavor of the chicken and lends a smoky flavor to the slices of green pepper and onions that cover the chicken. The big grain rice is plumped up and tasty, a much better side than the watery beans. The chewy corn tortillas don’t add much. Overall though, it’s a satisfying lunch and a pretty plate garnished with ripe avocado and tomatoes.

On the Mexican side of the menu you’ll find tacos and burritos. The fresh ingredients are stuffed into the big burrito and that flavorful rice is a nice touch. The diced grilled beef is lightly seasoned for good effect. It’s a really good burrito.

I’m hoping they can keep things going, because I only see this restaurant as getting better. Hopefully they will take the plunge and include more items from El Salvador. Strangely enough they do have a decent little cheese selection for sale, if you look inside the drink cooler. There, perched above the bottle of orange Jarritos, you’ll find chipotle melting cheese, big blocks of fresh farmer’s cheese and several other varieties of queso.

I paid $10 for a pupusa, burrito and drink with tax and tip and $13 for the chicken plate, a pupusa and drink.

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