Square 1 is a Latin and Caribbean restaurant located on the northwest corner of Memorial Square in downtown Chambersburg.
Franklin County is home to many locally owned ethnic restaurants and this is among the best.
It was the newest addition to Square 1’s menu — tamales — that drew me and my husband there on a busy Saturday afternoon this weekend.
We arrived at the tail end of the lunch rush so few tables were free, but we were seated promptly.
The restaurant’s only waitress was also the hostess and having a bit of difficulty keeping up, so we had to wait awhile to get our menus or put in a drink order.
The ambient atmosphere and the fact that we were seated close to the big fish tank that is part of the reception station was relaxing.
When we were ready to order, we weren’t able to find the tamales on the menu even though a sign outside was devoted to telling customers they are available.
The waitress explained they were such a new item, they hadn’t been added yet.
Chicken, pork tamales
Both chicken and pork tamales were available at a cost of $3 each. They weren’t available in a combo meal, but a variety of sides were available at an additional cost.
We decided to order two of each kind, with a side of Mexican rice, to share. We thought about ordering a side of beans to share but decided against it.
That turned out to be a wise decision since the side of rice was a large portion. By the time we finished the meal we were both stuffed so adding a side of beans would have been too much.
The chicken tamales were very similar to tamales I grew up on in El Paso, Texas. A corn husk spread with a corn masa mixture then filled with a spicy shredded chicken mixture, rolled up and cooked — probably steamed.
The pork used the same masa mixture, but it was spread on plantain leaves instead of corn husks. Then chunks of pork in a spicy sauce were spread on the masa and rolled up in the leaves.
Not your standard Southwest Tex Mex
While not the Mexican variety of tamale I am familiar with from my childhood, the tamales were well worth our trip to downtown Chambersburg.
I really liked the chicken tamales but probably wouldn’t order the pork variety again.
My pork tamale consisted mainly of thick masa and only one large chunk of pork, plus chunks of pure fat. There was sauce spread throughout the masa.
My husband fared better with his pork tamale, but still pushed aside a piece if pure fat.
He declared both the chicken and pork tamales high on the taste and edibility scale.
The rice, by the way, was very good– the perfect complement to the tamales. Next time we might try the beans as a side. They had both black and pintos on the menu.
It’s worth noting that there seemed to be a fairly steady stream of customers coming in to pick up take out orders while we were there.
Tamales that are sold individually probably make a good take out choice.
Square 1 has a wide variety of Latin and Caribbean menu choices.
The menu even has a Mexican section with the familiar tacos and fajitas.
Don’t overlook Latin, Caribbean menu items
Worth exploring, however, are the less familiar selections such as an Inka favorite of mine, Milanesa.
Or the Square Uno special Churrasco de Pollo (grilled chicken breast with chimichurri sauce). Or Churrasco, a mouth watering marinated grilled skirt steak.
My favorite has been a chicken and Avacado Apreas — a sandwich with a maize bread dough made to order on the premises.
It is wonderful.
In addition to main dishes and sandwiches, the Square 1 menu includes a wide variety of appetizers, salads, sides and desserts as well as a selection of non-alcoholic speciality drinks.
Prices are reasonable and comparable to most other downtown restaurants, ranging from $6 for the chicken and avacado Arepas which is usually my lunch choice to $15-$18 or so for a full meal.
I haven’t tried Square 1’s Postres (desserts) yet, but I hear from others they are awesome, especially the flan.