Monday, August 27, 2012
Prohibition Era Pupusas? Jaragua and The Copper Still
Jaragua is an impressive looking orange adobe building on Beverly Boulevard west of Normandie. When it first opened a few years ago, I found it pretty unexceptional. Over the years, though, it's managed to really pick up its game. It's great to see a restaurant get better rather than worse over time.
The menu is pretty standard Salvadoran but everything is done well. I like the pupusas revueltas (with just pork and cheese) which are well stuffed such that every bite yields a lava-like flow of porky/cheesy goodness. They do a good pan con pavo (the traditional Salvadoran turkey sandwich), nicely fried yuca and they have salpicon, the dish of minced beef, mint and onions that is the Salvadoran equivalent of Thai larp. It's also a really nice place to sit and have a family meal, which is not something that can be said of all Salvadoran restaurants. It's definitely worth checking out.
There has long been a bar at the back of the restaurant, and I usually glance at it and find it, like the restaurant in olden days, pretty unexceptional, just a basic bar that never seems open, probably reserved for a later crowd who wants standard well drinks, sort of like the bar in every dim sum place in the San Gabriel Valley.
So I usually just ignore the thing, but the last time I came in for dinner, I glanced back and saw a bottle of Cynar prominently displayed on the shelf. Cynar is an Italian artichoke liqueur that is popular among the mixology crowd, but not something I expected to see at the long neglected Jaragua backbar. Seeing this, I scanned the shelf: WhistlePig Rye, Redemption Rye, creme de violette a host of bitters, a pot of fresh herbs. Something was amiss.
I strolled back and met Nancy Kwon, the new beverage director for the bar who said they were going to be renaming it the Copper Still and were already open from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays, with a focus on prohibition era cocktails (natch!). While they are putting up a partition to separate the bar from the restaurant, you'll still be able to get pupusas at the bar, sort of like the Kibitz Room at Canter's, though without the divey feel.
I was there for an early dinner so I didn't get to try any cocktails, but I like the look of the place and it's a nice addition to the neighborhood, which doesn't have much in the way of craft bars. I'll report back once I check it out.
Jaragua & The Copper Still
4493 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004