Food

Sergio’s Place

November 2005

Sergio's goes beyond the clichés. There are pastelitos guanacos, fried half moons of dough filled with minced pork and vegetables, the Guatemalan cousin of empanadas. And Guatemalan-style enchiladas, crisp tortillas piled with chicken or beef, pickled slaw, and hard-cooked eggs. Pupusas–both regular and rice-dough versions–deserve attention too, especially an offbeat combination of zucchini and cheese. Salpicon is a mouth-pleasing heap of vinegary shredded beef punctuated with bits of crunchy onion and radish. The grandmotherly chicken with spicy red-chili mole sauce delivers comfort Latin-style. And the unconventional pan Cubano, with its thick, hand-carved slices of house-baked ham and pork, is a terrific mouthful.

The kitchen of this color-splashed cafe rarely turns out a clunker. For dessert try mashed plantains filled with milky custard or the cashew-apple drink known as maranon. Though not billed as a dessert, it makes for a sweet, nutty finish.

Sergio's Place, 11324 Fern St.; 301-962-7066. Atmosphere: Appealing cafe with an eager-to-please staff and a jukebox of Latin hits. Entrées: $4.95 to $13.95. Bottom line: A chef with a real feel for Central American cuisine–and an address to seek out. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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