By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
The jukebox is crammed with international pop hits -- try finding "Lágrimas Negras" at your corner saloon -- and on select weekend nights, the San Marcos's plain-Jane dance hall reverberates with nostalgic hits played by top-drawer bands imported from back home. "It can get expensive," Garcia-Zuleta explains. "Five thousand. Ten thousand. But our customers love it."
They also love it when the proprietor, taking a break from his usual duties, performs a little tableside sleight of hand, making a nickel disappear, then retrieving it from a patron's lapel, or pulling a quarter from a pretty woman's ear. To see Tony Garcia at work and play in the joyful confines of Café San Marcos, you can scarcely imagine that El Salvador endured more than a century of noche obscura-- political darkness -- that now serves to remind us of all the world's perils.
Still, even as you sample a beautifully browned pupusa stuffed with queso and loroca (the delicately sautéed blossom of an unnamed Salvadoran vegetable) and listen to "Toda Una Vida" on the jukebox, you can't help noticing a framed display mounted on a dark wall opposite the bar. Gobernantes Salvadoreños, the legend reads, and the long succession of official presidential portraits, steeped in military plumage and threatening glower, suggest a history of terror that Salvadorans wouldn't care to revisit and the anguished citizens of the rest of the planet shouldn't care to prolong -- not in Pakistan or Iraq, West Africa or lower Manhattan. But as Roque Guillermo Luna, staring down at his plate of tostadas, observes: "Governments change. Economies change. Even ideas change. But does man's nature change? I don't care to speculate on that."
2231 S. Broadway
Denver, CO 80210
Region: South Denver
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Café San Marcos
9935 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora, 303-341-2939
Hours: 10 a.m.-9p.m. Monday-Thursday
10 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday-Sunday
Instead, we have a good lunch and talk about soccer.