When chef Juan Alvarado moved from El Salvador to Texas at age 16, he soon began working in restaurants, eventually as a pastry chef. Later, on Long Island, he notched time in the kitchens of Mediterranean Manor in Patchogue and Mario's Italian Restaurant in East Setauket, among others.
That patchwork of culinary influences has come to bear on the menu at the East Patchogue restaurant he opened in January with his daughters, Emily and Melanie Alvarado. At El Matador Restaurant, Salvadoran, Colombian, Spanish, Italian, Caribbean and Mexican dishes mingle on the menu, so that it's possible to travel from ceviche to paella to chicken Francese (called pollo alla Francesca here) in one sitting.
Emily Alvarado, who runs the front of the house, said her dad makes most everything to order, including a finely cut pico de gallo (called chimol in El Salvador) that tops a churrasco-style strip steak ($26) and carnes asada ($21).
Tex-Mex devotees will find nachos and quesadillas ($9 and $11, respectively), but can venture further south with a chicken-stuffed plantain called platano relleno ($9) sheathed in melted queso fresco; an ensalada de mariscos ($17) of tumbled mussels, shrimp and calamari; or the lavish besito salvadoreño, a grilled steak topped with avocado, chorizo sausage, fried plantain and a fried egg ($23).
The 45-seat restaurant also has a full bar, and runs Latin-influenced pairing dinners organized around sangria and margarita tastings.
El Matador Restaurant, 680 N. Route 112, East Patchogue. 631-569-5082. matadorrestaurant.wixsite.com.