Question: When I was looking for burritos in Queens, New York, last year, I noticed that Roosevelt Avenue, under the tracks of the 7 train, had more restaurants serving Ecuadorean food than anything else. I’m not sure what I was expecting from Ecuadorean restaurants, but I fell in love with these fried mashed-potato patties that they all served, usually with cheese in them, although I never did find a decent burrito. Do you know where I can find them out here?
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Answer: Llapingachos, which almost certainly is what you’re looking for, is probably the most famous Ecuadorean dish, an expression of culture that is to that country what pupusas are to Salvadoran cooking or nacatamals are to Nicaraguans, the stuff that gets emigrants weepy-eyed. Mashed-potato patties stuffed with melted cheese, laminated with a fried egg and served with a pile of roasted pork, llapingachos are nursery food with a pedigree. I like mine sluiced with the local hot sauce called aji. There may be other places serving llapingachos besides El Caserio, a mini-mall café south of Silver Lake that also serves killer fruit drinks made with guanabana or the mountain blackberries called mora, but I have never found it necessary to go anywhere else. El Caserio, 309 N. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 664-9266. Got a burning culinary question? Try us: firstname.lastname@example.org.