Conga – Pupusas And Jumping Beans

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - by Willie Mae
Conga at 207 East Main Street
Conga at 207 East Main Street

It always pleases me to find a place that I usually pass by and didn’t know it was there and to feel as though I found a wonderful treasure! At 207 East Main St. is a little place called Conga. I had never had Latin food and I thought it might be like a Tex-Mex restaurant, but it wasn’t.

I was seated by a cute girl and,  when she asked if I needed to look over the menu, I confessed that I didn’t understand what any of it was. She was so helpful to explain all of their items on the menu (old people appreciate when servers take the time to do that). Some of the younger generation will spout off ‘specials of the day’ and they talk so fast that it is just a waste of time.

This gal was proud to tell me about the different items they offered, such as Tamales, Empanadas, Barbacoa, Yucca Frita and PuPusas. A person who is not very cultured would not know what half of these items are, so it is so nice when the wait-staff is understanding and patient. My waitress (who did not look Spanish) would even say the names with a Spanish flair.

I thought I would try a Pupusas (I can spell it, but I can’t say it) which was a Salvadorian stuffed tortilla filled with cheese or garlic cheese. I ordered the combo with rice and black beans for $6.49. They come with the choice of pork, carrot, spinach, and seven more to choose from. I decided on the Sweet Basil.

Latin music was playing in the background, but it was soft and steady with quiet maracas and a Spanish guitar. With the name Conga, I expected more jive-y music and maybe the staff wearing fruit on their heads. It was pretty quiet at the time I went, but I was told that the place stays quite busy and really comes alive at noon or in the evenings and they offer outside seating.

When my meal arrived, I was surprised that the Pupusas was a round, disc-shaped breading that resembled the potato-pancakes I used to make for Jack when he was a boy. It didn’t look like it was a ‘stuffed’ anything as plain as it looked. But I took my fork and tore a little of it to see that it was, in fact, stuffed with cheese and sweet basil. It smelled wonderful! Maybe this was a Latin way to eat grilled cheese?

I loved the black beans. They were so flavorful without adding anything to them, but I usually like to add hot sauce anyway. My waitress had brought a tri-caddy of sauces and I thought I would use one for my Pupusas.

One sauce looked like a green chili sauce and one looked like a spinach-y sauce but was loaded with diced onion. The red sauce was about gone, but it had red chili pepper seeds and I thought it would be the spicy one. I smelled it before adding it and it really woke up my nostrils!

Oh boy, I was excited! I had tried a bite of the Pupusas and it was a little bland for someone who loves spice, so I loaded it with the sauce and it was perfect! I could taste the sweet basil, the cheese and still have the kick I wanted without the sauce overpowering the flavor.

As I was enjoying the quiet music along with my meal, all of a sudden I heard a loud, brassy “B-o-o-o-onk!!”

It scared me to death and I jumped like a Mexican jumping bean! The noise came from across the street where I saw a fire truck pulling out of the station. It proceeded to make noise with a high-pitched siren to accompany the baritone goose honk.

It went by as quickly as it had sounded off, so it wasn’t too disturbing. I was just glad that I didn’t spill my beans when I jumped.

I guess I was also glad to be next to a fire station because the sauce was getting hotter the more I ate it, but …as much as my nose was running - I could have put out any fire all by myself.

I didn’t know what the golden fried fruit was that was garnished on my plate. The waitress told me it was a fried plantain. When I tried a bite, it tasted like a banana. I wasn’t sure what I thought of a fried banana-tasting fruit, but I bet ol’ Elvis would love it slapped between a peanut-butter sandwich!

The rice and slaw were good, the Pupusas was wonderful and I loved the black beans. This meal most certainly deserves a Willie Mae “Whee-ee-doggie!” and, though I wasn’t fond of the fried banana-thing, I thought I would leave that for Elvis but… he must have already left the building.

Hours:

Monday – Saturday

11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Sweet Basil Pupusas with slaw, black beans, rice and fried plantain
Sweet Basil Pupusas with slaw, black beans, rice and fried plantain

Erlanger To Host Chattanooga Market On Fridays

Erlanger Health System announced a smaller version of the popular Chattanooga Market will be held every week beginning  Friday, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m .  Created primarily for Erlanger employees but open to the community, the arrangement allows some of the community's busiest folks to participate in local food shopping.  "As a health provider, ... (click for more)

Red Lobster At Northgate Sells For $4.5 Million

The Red Lobster restaurant at Northgate Mall has sold for $4,528,461. The sale was to R L C A Properties Inc from Arcp Rl Portfolio V Llc . The location is 2131  Northgate Mall Dr . (click for more)

Chattanooga Police To Add 14 Officers After Violent Weekend; New System To Allow Local Testing Of Shell Casings

In the wake of a weekend in which five people were shot with two dying, the Chattanooga Police Department is adding 14 more officers, Mayor Andy Berke and Chief Fred Fletcher said Monday. The department is also utilizing a new system that will allow local testing of shell casings and avoid a long wait time after sending them off to Nashville. Chief Fletcher also said there ... (click for more)

McReynolds, Brooks Arrested After Police Chase Ends In Crash On Monroe Street; Accord Had Been Stolen From Dealership

Marquis McReynolds, 25, and Jermichael Brooks, 23, were arrested after a police chase on Monday.   A task force including the ATF, FBI, and Chattanooga Police Department officers pursued a stolen vehicle. That pursuit resulted in a traffic crash and the arrest of two convicted felons.   The pursuit began at 5200 Highway 58 just after 7 p.m. after police ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March - And Response (2)

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Puzzling Women

After Rhonda Thurman left the “Enlightment” meeting of the Hamilton Country School Board Saturday afternoon, she must have been catching up on the news when she posted this message on her Facebook page: “I am really trying to understand. I am a woman and I cannot think of one "RIGHT" I do not have. Can someone enlighten me?” Not one person enlightened Rhonda because nobody could ... (click for more)