Zaguán: New Adventures in Comfort Food

Sweet and savory cachapa is a keeper

The fare at Latin American cafe and bakery Zaguán is so much more than hangover food. But we can't list its classier merits without disclosing how we first experienced the restaurant: crossing Oak Lawn on foot at 9 a.m. with a girlfriend to meet another pal whose bachelorette party the three of us had successfully reenacted the night before.

The goal was to eat enough to take an aspirin; we managed to wolf down an entire cachapa plate with sweet plantains subbed in for plantain chips. A cachapa is a Venezuelan specialty described by the restaurant as a sweet corn turnover, served with beef and cheese or chicken and cheese or an assortment of veggies at the customer's request. It's a brunch-ready dish that, even after tasting it for the first time on an iffy stomach, could now easily replace pancakes and possibly sandwiches in our diet.

D Magazine christened the cachapa the area's Best Latin Lunch when served with shredded beef. We opted for mushrooms and tomatoes with cheese, and the results were heavenly -- comforting but not too heavy, a blanket of sweet and savory. Our friends nibbled on a pastry filled with guava and cheese and chose hesitantly from an exotic smoothie menu. Cantaloupe and passion fruit juice are among the options for blending.

Another visit confirmed the spot's mastery of soupy black beans with a kick and yielded two more cachapa converts, one of whom was so pleased that she gifted us with a gem from the stocked pastry case. The alfajore, a cookie sandwich filled with dulce del leche paste (chocolate or guava are possible alternatives) and covered in confectioners sugar, was too over-the-top sweet for our taste. Good thing there's a whole bakery menu of goodies to try.

Visit Zaguán at 2604 Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas.

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