El Gavilan has served Silver Spring since 1990 and the secret to its longstanding success is simple...and edible—come taste it.When I walked into El Gavilan in Silver Spring last week, the first thing I noticed was the size—it's no airplane hangar, but this brightly colored place is comfortably large, offering an array of seating options. Obviously, I chose a spot closer to the bar (a scout has her priorities, after all). While the homemade margaritas are legit, I ended up getting a non-alcoholic beverage called the Ensalada de Fruta. This fruity mocktail tasted exactly how it sounds, which is perfect for hot DC days, and luckily it was already served with a spoon, so I didn't have to ask when I wanted to scoop out the bits of fresh fruit at the bottom. That's about when Claudia Rivera, who owns the restaurant with her family, came up to me with several giant plates of lunch and dinner (plan on leftovers). "We've been here since 1990," she said, explaining El Gavilan's long history in the community. And the secret to its success? Come taste the food. While you'll find traditional dishes on the menu, the standouts are those that combine El Salvadoran spices with Mexican ingredients. Pro tip: If you come with another, order one of the platters made for two that includes a crab-stuffed lobster dish. "We started these on Valentine's Day one year, but people kept requesting them, so we have the platter for two on the menu all the time now." Come fall in love, or at least have fun—El Gavilan hosts karaoke Thursday through Sunday nights.
Plato El Gavilan, $17.25
Platter for 2 Cupido, $59.95
La Mariscada Seafood Soup, $23.75
Fajitas al Carbon, $15.25
Monday - Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday - Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.