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Restaurant Review: Catrachito Honduran Food in Dallas

Tacos Hondureños. A large wheat flour tortilla filled with chicken and deep fried in lard. The whole thing is showered with strands of chopped cabbage and drizzled with a ranchero-style dressing and sour cream.

Just about the only things I know about Honduras is that that the scuba diving is world class and it is one of the few countries in the world to be invaded by a neighboring country after a soccer game. The cuisine remained a cipher. I was excited, therefore, when, driving to work one morning, I found myself behind a truck painted with “Catrachito – 100% Comida Hondureña.” Even I knew that that didn’t refer to a comedy club, so I noted the details and made a mental plan to check it out. This is not the only Honduran restaurant in the DFW area, but this is an outsider’s review, so if you know Honduran cuisine (or were involved in the soccer war) please chime in.

Let’s kick it.

Catrachito is located on Marsh Lane where it morphs into Lemmon Avenue. Given the traffic control, it is easiest to get to if you go west on Northwest Highway and take a right to go north on Marsh. Before you enter Marsh take a right into the strip mall next to (but inaccessible from) Target and Catrachito is in the middle.

To describe the place as ‘unpretentious’ would imply that you’d entered on the club floor. Plain tables sit in front of you as you enter via the front door. The sides of the room are decorated with the memorabilia of (mostly) that beloved national soccer team. A television shows Spanish language shows. A counter at the side sells Honduran bric-a-brac. The serving counter at the back sports on overhead menu that is unlit and hard to read. The paint of the whole room has, shall we say, patina. Best to get a menu and take a table since counter service is just an option provided for the brisk takeout trade.

So, what is the cuisine like from this Central American country about one sixth the size of Texas? Is it distinguishable from its neighbor El Salvador, a cuisine well represented in Dallas (due largely to the presence of Gloria’s)? After two visits,  the food appears similar in terms of ingredients and compositions, but I noted some distinctive differences. Two are refreshing novelties worth trying. First, baleadas are the closest thing to the national breakfast of Honduras. Basically it’s a flour tortilla laid flat and smeared with fried beans and toppings. Catrachito offers Baleadas Sencillas (sour cream, cheese and beans) ($1.99), Baleada Mixta (sour cream, cheese, eggs and beans) ($2.50) and Baleada Con Todo (sour cream cheese, chorizo, eggs and beans) ($2.99).

The other original idea is going to blow the taco fans off their comals and send marketing directors of $4 taco joints down there for menu development. Tacos Hondureños ($4.99) is a large wheat flour tortilla (two per order), filled with chicken and deep fried in lard. The whole thing is showered with strands of chopped cabbage and drizzled with a ranchero-style dressing and sour cream. It a monument to the healthful effects of lard on the profession of cardiac surgery (and a wholly enjoyable taco to boot). The owner told me that Enchiladas Hondureñas ($4.99) brings a similarly inventive twist to enchiladas, but I that will have to wait for a future visit.

As well as those originals, Honduran cuisine also embraces Sopa Marinera ($11.99) (translated as ‘Marine Soup’ on the menu). As a country with two oceans, this is understandably good. More familiar fare could have come from El Salvador or the broader region. Platano Mixto (plantain mix with sour cream, cheese and beans) ($4.99) is a good choice for first time visitors as it is comprised of several oft-repeated ingredients.

Yuca Con Chicharron (yucca, pork, rice, cabbage and sour cream)

Yuca Con Chicharron (yucca, pork, rice, cabbage and sour cream) ($5.99) is a hearty cold-weather assemblage in the food-as-fuel tradition of, for example, choucroute.

A range of non-alcoholic drinks is available. As a bananaholic, I was intrigued by Banana Hondureña. My worst fears were confirmed: its laboratory taste was the result of it containing absolutely no banana. It did however contain yellow dye no. 6 (it’s not often that you see the no. 6!).

Service is polite and helpful to a fault. The shared bathroom must have been declared a national wilderness area as no cleaner has apparently entered it for months. Latin music from the speaker system was a little too loud for conversation early on but was turned down later.

It should be clear from the above that you can eat well for not much dosh at Catrachito. I’ll be going back.

We dined anonymously and paid for our own meals.

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