Pike Pizza

Latin American, Salvadoran
$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

Pay no attention to the sign out front. Pike Pizza hasn't baked a pie for probably a dozen years. The cheerful storefront's real signature is a much dearer commodity: saltenas, braided turnovers filled with a soupy mix of chicken or beef plus peas, hard-cooked egg and potatoes. Bolivians treat saltenas as snacks rather than meals; the time to enjoy them here, at the oldest of five family-run area outposts, is breakfast or lunch and no later than 2 p.m., advises co-owner Guillermo Molina, who says his small kitchen sells "hundreds and hundreds" of saltenas every weekend. My routine involves finding a stool at the bar, asking for a beef saltena and cutting a small circle of pastry from the top of the glossy treat, which prevents the liquid center from spilling out. The combination of the delicately sweet shell, the tender meat and a broth seasoned with cumin and garlic makes it difficult to stop at one saltena, and diners can up the heat with a dollop of a wicked relish of minced jalapeno, cilantro and tomato. The cool thing is, you can add a beer to the equation and get change back from a 10-spot; the saltenas go for a mere $2.15 apiece -- and two could make a meal.

--Tom Sietsema (Dec. 16, 2007)