One of the best things about Gloria’s, the Salvadoran restaurant chain, are the two salsas that diners get with their chips — a nicely done tomato entry and a black bean thing that’s probably closer to a dip than a salsa.
In fact, there is little not to like about Gloria’s, whether it’s the Gloria’s Super Special, with the tamal, papusa, fried plantain and yucca for just $11, the grilled shrimp or even the grilled catfish. The Salvadoran plates, featuring grilled skirt steak, chicken breast, or pork tenderloin, are worthwhile as well.
I have been eating at Gloria’s since owner Jose Fuentes opened his second store in a motel in Lake Highlands in the early 1990s (now gone, and a business move he still shakes his head about). Fuentes’ is an amazing story, and one I have written about for several magazines. He and his ex-wife, Gloria, moved to Dallas from Houston, where they were going to open an auto repair shop. They ended up with a bar that served food on West Davis in Oak Cliff, down the street from where the Bishop Arts District is now (but certainly wasn’t almost 20 years ago). The Fuentes parlayed that store into a 10-store chain with annual sales of more than $10 million.
The Oak Cliff location, in fact, is still my favorite. There’s something especially Dallas about it at noon on Sunday — Hispanic families, upper middle class Anglos from Kessler Park, elderly Oak Cliff couples just in from church, and even some of the area’s new residents. Makes me feel right at home.