Thanks to Taco Bell, millions of Americans think that a gordita is a taco made with something called "Mexican flatbread." Those of us who have been to Mexico, of course, know that a gordita is a thick corn tortilla, hollowed out and stuffed with any number of ingredients. In most versions of the gordita in Los Angeles, the tortilla shell is deep fried.
The gordita is a relative of the Salvadoran pupusa. While they are similar, a gordita is cut open and stuffed after it is fried, whereas for pupusas, the ingredients are stuffed into the raw masa and the whole thing is cooked together.
It is perhaps for that reason that there are a number of Salvadoran restaurants that offer gorditas as well as pupusas. Now, normally, I would not order a Mexican specialty at a Salvadoran restaurant. Rule number 7 of good eating is that when you go to a restaurant that purports to serve two types of cuisine, choose something from the lesser known one, as that is probably where the owners come from. Usually this will be a variation of Central American cuisine and Mexican or a variation of Asian cuisine and Chinese. For instance, if you see a sign that says Mexican and Salvadoran, the family that owns the place is probably from El Salvador, but cooks some Mexican food because they know people like it...same with Thai/Chinese. If you want the house specialty, get the Salvadoran or the Thai.
However, every rule has its exception, so when I heard there were great gorditas at Golfo de Fonseca, a Salvardoran place on 6th Street east of Union, I gave it a shot.
These were indeed good gorditas. The huge heavily fried tortillas are stuffed to the brim with savory fillings. I had mine with al pastor, seasoned, barbequed pork, which was juicy and well-spiced. There aren't that many gorditas to be had in this part of town and these were certainly better than most I've had.
Even better though was a plate of that Salvadoran staple, yuca y chicharron. The yuca was beautifully fried, crisp on the outside, tender within, like a perfect steak fry. The trick to perfect Salvadoran chicharron is making it crisp and juicy without being greasy, and this dish exemplified that concept. The generous serving is topped with curtido (cabbage slaw) and a few sprigs of watercress. This was among the best executed versions of this popular dish I've had, ranking up there with Los Chorros in Inglewood.
So go for the gordita, but don't miss the yuca and chicharron.
Golfo de Fonseca
1618 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90017