East Boston and Chelsea are two adjacent communities with a wealth of ostensibly Mexican restaurants that actually have Central American owners and chefs. Most menus are similar: half traditional Mexican, half Salvadoran and Guatemalan. They typically feature three-meal service, very attractive prices, rather generous portions, and a clientele composed mainly of Spanish-speaking locals. Mi Pueblito, a bright and spacious sit-down restaurant with 60 seats and a long menu, fits this profile, and adds some noteworthy differentiators.
In the morning, overloaded breakfast plates include juevos con jamon ($8.75): eggs scrambled with diced ham, served with a strip of chicharrón, fried plantains, well-seasoned pinto beans, a wedge of cream-cheese-like queso, and sour-cream-like Salvadoran crema. Lunch offerings include torta mexicana de adobada ($6.75), which layers chili-marinated pork with avocado, mozzarella-like queso, beans, jalapeno, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a firm, bulkie-like roll, served with decent fries. Garnachas chapinas ($10), a Guatemalan appetizer, fills 10 crisp-fried mini-tortilla saucers with a spicy tomato/beef sauté; they're topped with shredded lettuce at the table. The seemingly simple pollo jalapeño ($12) packs a ton of flavor, topping a perfectly grilled chicken breast with a creamy sauce and julienned fresh jalapeños. Chiles rellenos de carne ($10.50) jam a mild green pepper full of cheese and tender beef, though the fried-batter coating could be crisper. Generous sides — two thick griddled corn tortillas, rice, avocado, radishes, and tomatoes — make these entrées substantial. Fascinating traditional desserts include neugados ($5.50), three cassava fritters served with a hot mug of chilate, a sweet-spiced, corn-based beverage. One sweetens both with a thin, dark caramel sauce.
Gringos wary of Central American food may choose more familiar Mexican dishes like the bargain-priced sizzling fajitas platter for three ($25) with chicken, beef, and shrimp. Most evenings, the room is booming with Salvadoran pop and folk music blaring from a CD jukebox, the chatter of big families, and fútbol matches on two TVs. Drinks include a good selection of bottled beers, including light, bubbly Salvadoran lagers like Suprema ($3.75) and Regia Extra ($8/quart). Batidos mixtos ($4), blender shakes of condensed milk, sugar, ice, and fresh fruit like blackberries or papaya, are beautiful and refreshing. Service is sweet, friendly, and patient with Anglophone patrons. There's even a tiny private parking lot. Mi Pueblito's lonely location is a bit off the beaten path of Eastie eateries, but getting there is worth the trip: it feels like crashing a raucous family reunion where someone's amazing Salvadoran abuela is cooking a feast for everyone.
Mi Pueblito Restaurant, located at 333 Border Street, in East Boston, is open daily, 8 am–11 pm. Call 617.569.3787.