This place is hard to find. It’s not visible from the street but is tucked away in East Dallas across from Home Depot. Getting to Casa Linda Salvadorian Cuisine feels almost like a trek into Central America.
“We just got our storefront sign up two weeks ago,” co-owner Blanca García says.
Blanca and her husband, Manuel García, met in the restaurant industry when they both worked at Pei Wei. Blanca was a manager who moved around to different stores in Dallas, and Manuel also has worked for Cheddar’s and P.F. Chang’s.
For a time, the two lived in Kansas and Tennessee, opening and managing Pei Wei stores. As time went on, they knew they wanted to own a restaurant. They started to save and slowly buy their equipment, and before they knew it, a space opened up in their neighborhood.
“When we opened, it was a little bit of a slow start,” Blanca says. “We’ve had challenges. [Manuel] had to go pass out flyers around the shopping center at Home Depot, and sometimes we’d wait here for about two hours for someone to come in. The first weekend really surprised us; we filled up the first weekend, especially Sunday.”
The pupusas draw a regular crowd, according to the Garcías. The stuffed tortilla is similar to a gordita, and the restaurant has several variations. On the weekends especially, pupusas are the best seller.
“Mainly Hispanics and some Salvadorans — [pupusas are] what they mainly come in for,” Blanca says. “Once they try the entrees or the seafood, then they’ll start ordering more.”
Manuel, originally from Puebla, Mexico, is the main cook in the restaurant, but Blanca sometimes steps in during the rush. Blanca’s mother, Candida, also makes pupusas, and her father, Marcos, is a dishwasher. The family owns and operates the restaurant, and to them, it’s incredibly important.
“It’s also to give our children a better future,” Blanca says. “One of them wants to be in the restaurant business. … We have a 4-year-old, a 7- and a 10-year-old. … My boy, he doesn’t want to clean or wash dishes; he wants to cook."
As the restaurant grows little by little every week, the family is looking for more opportunities to expand its existing space. People travel from all over DFW to eat at Casa Linda Salvadorian Cuisine, and many of them have requested locations in their areas, Blanca says, including Rockwall and Richardson.
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“The goal is to expand the culture of Central America because there’s a lot of different cultures in Central America,” Manuel says. “This food is, like, a little similar to Cuban food because Mexican cuisine is the spiciest and Central American food is not. It’s sweet but not too sweet. It’s about the balance.”
Balancing life, children, culture and work is, like the pupusa, something the García family has mastered. When not taking the kids to school, the movies or get fro-yo or just hanging out watching Netflix at home, the Garcías are at the restaurant, masa at the ready.
Casa Linda Salvadorian Cuisine, 11255 Garland Road (East Dallas)