By JD Herman
Tucked away off South Gessner on Creekbend Drive is a wonderful bakery and restaurant serving up specialties from El Salvador. The storefront of this eatery is deceptively simple, but open the door and the smell of fresh baked treats will wash over you and instantly transport you to grandmother’s kitchen. There is nothing quite like fresh baked sweet treats, and Variedades Lazo’s has many varieties to choose from.
In addition to the bakery Variedades Lazo also serves El Salvadorian food. Hungry residents of the Brays Oaks Management District will find delicious lunch and dinner options with alternating daily specials. I sat down at one of the checkered clothed tables, after surveying the wall of colorful and tantalizing baked goods, to review the menu.
Salvadorian food has some Spanish influences but it is from the Native American cuisine of the indigenous people of El Salvador that it builds its foundation. Coastal communities of El Salvador rely heavily on marine life as a staple of their diet. Ceviche with clams, fish soups and shrimp are common. Non-seafood dishes are usually heavy with pork or beef. Carne Guuisada and Carne Asada (the former with gravy, the latter without) are typical beef options while pork dishes are even more common and more varied.
If there is one national dish of El Salvador it is probably the pupusa. This heavenly, thick flatbread is freshly made and stuffed with cheese and beans, meats, or veggies. The pupusa is similar to the more familiar quesadilla, but the bread is more substantial. Making it heartier and a main course staple. As mentioned the varieties of pupusas are endless and I have to say they are AMAZING.
After looking over the menu of Variedades Lazo I was torn between the Mariscada (seafood soup) or the famous pupusas. Eventually I decided to try 2 pupusas and a side of fried plantains.
I chose one bean and cheese pupusa, the other was pork and beans. Both were glorious — a food wonderland! The fresh flatbread holds the ingredients perfectly and served with Salvadoran cabbage slaw called “curtido.” The plantains were also a great compliment of sweetness to the rich flavors of the pupusas.
All this goodness was accompanied by two Salvadorian drinks: Kolashanpan – a bright orange soda flavored after the sugar cane plant, and Tropical – a banana flavored drink that is super sweet. Both — favorites of Salvadoran youth — are interesting and great culinary adventures for those with a sweet tooth.
I made sure to leave Lazo’s with a few of the fresh baked goods. I chose some of the cookies with jimmies and sugar sprinkles, and a pastry that resembled a scone. Later that night my wife and I enjoyed them with coffee. The hint of cinnamon and vanilla along with the technicolor sprinkles were a great compliment to the rich french press coffee.
Variedades Lazo is doing a brisk take out business despite the pandemic. This isn’t fast food. Everything is freshly made so expect a short wait, especially at lunch. It is worth it, I assure you! Brays Oaks is lucky to have such a unique bakery with hearty home-cooked food so close. Visit them today!
8103 Creekbend Dr
Houston, TX 77071