Tacos Catrachos are Honduran-style fried tacos at Salvadoreños & Mexican...

Tacos Catrachos are Honduran-style fried tacos at Salvadoreños & Mexican restaurant in Island Park. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

It's not every day that you discover a new taco style, but when it happens, it makes the world feel brighter. Or more golden, because this Island Park spot prepares a unique fried taco with a crispy, golden tortilla that you really need to try.

Tacos appear in two sections of the menu at Salvadoreños & Mexican, a new restaurant owned by Rosa Mcdermoth and her husband, Oscar Moreno, who originally hail from Honduras. Standard tacos like carne asada, pollo and crispy shell tacos with ground beef filling are listed between Mexican platters and fajitas. But it's the item on the next page that should catch your eye: Number 82: The Tacos Catrachos ($14).

Catracho is a nickname for Hondurans, stemming from a mispronunciation of the famous war general Florencio Xatruch. Around the time of the American Civil War, his men fought off invaders trying to colonize Central America for the slave trade. In Honduras, the name also refers to a style of rolled tacos that are fried and often bathed in a light tomato salsa. This version is based on Mcdermoth's grandpa's recipe, she said, and it's a famous dish in Honduras. 

Deep-fried rolled tacos are well known throughout northern Mexico and in border areas where they go by the name flautas or taquitos. But they're also found across Central America in countries such as Guatemala. And that's why you'll find a version of these deep-fried beauties at most Latino delis across Long Island. But fresh from the kitchen, the Tacos Catrachos at Salvadoreños & Mexican are in a whole different category. 

These are some of the most delicious fried tacos on Long Island. Stuffed with saucy shredded beef and chicken, the rolls of crispy corn tortillas are topped with a flurry of chopped cabbage, crumbly white cheese, chopped tomatoes and adereso, a Central American pink sauce. Unlike Tex-Mex counterparts, there is no guacamole, but a Thousand Island-like dressing plays a similar creamy role. Each bite is faintly softened by the mild tomato broth it sat in, but retains its earthy corn crunch. 

“It's so good when they just fry them, it's delicious,” Mcdermoth said. “I don't like to refry food … It's too much oil and it doesn't taste the same. I tell people they have to wait 20 minutes” so it's fresh. 

Mcdermoth provides a bit of everything at Salvadoreños & Mexican, so the large menu encompasses Peruvian fried rice, Salvadoran pupusas and American breakfast plates. Moreno, the chef, has family in El Salvador and has spent years working in Mexican, Italian and American steakhouses on Long Island. 

The Bandeja Tipica Salvadoreña at Salvadoreños & Mexican restaurant in...

The Bandeja Tipica Salvadoreña at Salvadoreños & Mexican restaurant in Island Park comes with a pupusa, steak, chicharron and casaba. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

The Bandeja Tipica Salvadoreña ($24) is a great way to taste everything, since the massive platter includes the meaty bounties of Mexico, Central America and Colombia on one plate. Don't burn your fingers on that pupusa, it'll still be hot and cheesy in a minute. Concentrate on the crispy chicharron (Mcdermoth's favorite) and that fantastic fried yucca first. Or just put some into the takeout box, because unless you're splitting it with a couple friends, you're going to need it. 

Salvadoreños & Mexican, 166 Long Beach Rd., Island Park, 516-208-7308, instagram.com/salvadorenos_and_mexican_grill. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. 

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