Manana is a Salvadorian restaurant best known for its Pupusas, a national dish of El Salvador.
Manana is a dive. Given the upkeep of the restaurant front, walking in to the dimly lit restaurant was a jolt to the system. Nonetheless, it was half full with Hispanic customers so I thought it had to be pretty decent. The counter was unmanned so I walked to the restroom which turned out to be surprisingly clean.
I pulled out the menu looking for pupusas and the only pupusas listing I saw was for a 3 pupusa combo for $8.50. Going off memory, the pupusas are revueltas - pork chicarron, cheese, and bean filling. For a drink I ordered horchata.
The horchata came to the table first and it was perfect, sweet and nongritty yet somehow it wasn't icy cold despite the ice.
About 25 minutes passed before the pupusas finally arrived. One forkful of the creamy rice and the long wait was immediately forgiven. The creamy fluffy but simple rice was the best Hispanic rice I ever had.
But not to be outdone were the pupusas. The pupusas were cooked to order on the griddle and arrived volcanic hot. Top it with the curtido - the cole slaw, and squirt some vinegary tomato sauce and you have pupusa magic. The pancake itself was a perfect combination of crisp and soft. The filling was a perfect combination of savory flavor and ratio of beans, chicarron, and refried beans. The curtido itself was a new and enthralling sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and textural experience. Altogether it made for one of the best if not the best meals I have had in the Twin Cities. I'm not sure how it could have been any better.
This is a definite must return destination.
Bathroom rating: 6.8. Much cleaner than I expected, and I perceived it to be better maintained than the dining area.
828 7th Street East
Saint Paul, MN 55106