First Look

First Look: El Mana Provides Salvadoran Flavors

If you're craving pupusas, you're set ordering from here.
If you're craving pupusas, you're set ordering from here. Taylor Adams
As we mentioned last week, el Mana opened in Cockrell Hill recently, serving a menu of Mexican and Salvadoran plates.

This location, just on the edge of Cockrell HIll’s boundary with Oak Cliff, is the third for the restaurant, with locations also in North Dallas and Grand Prairie.

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The interior of el Mana's new, third location in Cockrell Hill
Taylor Adams
The menu is separated clearly into five sections: Salvadoran appetizers, Salvadoran entrees, Mexican entrees, soups, and seafood.

There’s also a seven-item breakfast menu. The desayuno el mana, with scrambled eggs, tomato, bell pepper, onion, plantains, beans, cheese and sour cream, sounds like a good place to start ($9.75).

Under the appetizers, there are six options for pupusas, sold individually ($1.75-$2.75). Go ahead and get them all to try — their typical size allows for splitting with another.

The revueltas, with pork and cheese, were a favorite on our visit, with the most flavor out of the assortment. The bean-and-cheese one was good, too, simple and made better when paired with bright, crisp slaw and salsa.

A first visit here called for getting a sandwich de Salvadoreños ($6.75). It’s a beast. The menu boasts that the restaurant’s “famous white bread” sandwich involves bone-in chicken stew, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, a hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato and Salvadoran coleslaw.

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Sure, it's messy (in a photo online and IRL), but we're talking stew on top of bread, and it's delicious.
Taylor Adams
It may not be the best thing to travel with if you don’t live around the corner. That stew becomes one with the fresh bread, making a bit of a mess. However, it’s a well-made, flavorful sandwich worth getting.

The stew (pollo guisado) is savory in a way that only time in preparation can provide, and it pairs wonderfully with crisp bites of slaw and an occasional crunch of cucumber. The egg, cut in half, was boiled a long time — evident by the gray ring around the yolk — but offered extra protein and a differing texture.

It looks like it can feed four people. And if you get it to go, have no shame in taking a fork to this sandwich. It’s a fine way to get the exact texture and flavor profiles you want in each bite (and avoid spilling half of every bite on the floor for your dog to attack).

For the entrees, the encebollado options sound good — inside round steak or chicken breast is cooked with onions and served with rice, beans and salad ($9.75 for steak, $9.25 for chicken). The pastelitos de carne will be on our next order: The pie stuffed with ground beef sounds worth trying ($8.75).

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The guacamole won't rock your socks off, but the nachos are good enough to hit the spot.
Taylor Adams
Mexican plates include enchiladas (beef, chicken or cheese, $8.99), quesadillas ($9.50) and fajitas ($10.99-$12.25). Beef nachos have plenty of meat on each chip with few chips that lack ingredients, something we always appreciate ($9.50).

If you’re looking for standard pupusas, this spot is worth a visit, and trying other items on the menu works, too, while you’re at it.

El Mana, 4448 W. Jefferson Blvd., Suite 312. 214-774-9331. Open for takeout and limited dine-in 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.