Chapin is code for Guatemalan, referring to the people of the Central American country. And in the case of the extensively titled El Chapin Centro Americano Restaurant, it references the indigenous flavors of the region.
Find the restaurant on Remount Road directly across from the Hot Spot gas station and convenience store. The proprietors more recently removed the black tint from El Chapin’s windows, improving the restaurant’s appearance.
Inside the clean, bright, but sparsely decorated venue, the menu pays tribute to a Guatemalan diet that features avocadoes, beans, plantains, rice and tortillas.
Best example: desayuno ($6.99), a simple, tasty dish generally associated with breakfast that consists of eggs, beans, cheese and fried plantains.
But El Chapin also delves heavily in beef entrees, working the finely sliced cuts into meals such as the bistec chapin ($10.99), which is like a steak and eggs dish on steroids, pumped up with rice, beans, avocado, cucumbers and shrimp, all ready to be wrapped in warm tortillas. It’s quite good; the beef is seasoned and cooked with pepper flakes, jibing splendidly with the poached eggs.
El Chapin’s reach extends further, too, encompassing steak, onion and liver dishes, along with adobo marinated pork ($8.75), pork chops cooked a la plancha ($8.95) and pork rinds with yucca ($9).
The spicy deviled shrimp, fried tilapia and a Veracruz-style tilapia made with a tomato sauce help fill out the menu.
Of course, one also could fill up on huaraches, burritos, quesadillas and tacos made from beef, chicken, pork, cow’s cheeks and tongue. At any rate, it’s certainly a menu and region worth engaging and exploring.