Monday, December 15, 2008


For a while now, I’ve been obsessing over pupusas, handmade, stuffed corn tortillas from El Salvador. Common fillings are white cheese, white cheese and beans or white cheese and loroco, an edible flower common in Salvadorian cuisine. You can also stick chicharróns, squash or cactus in there. It is always served with curtido (pickled cabbage) and a mild red sauce on the side.

L.A. is crammed with pupuserias from South L.A. to Koreatown to Silver Lake to my favorite one in the city, which is in Highland Park, Restaurant Y Pupuseria La Arca (5570 N Figueroa St. 323-340-8528). This fairly large place, which is just down and across the street from Mr. T’s Bowl, has the best pupusas I’ve ever had. But don’t order the El Salvadorian horchata there. There’s a sign in Spanish warning that if you do order it, you can’t get away with saying that you don’t like it and exchange it for something else. El Salvadorian horchata, at least at this restaurant since I’ve never had it anywhere else, is like a thick paste.

So, there are a million good places to have pupusas in L.A., but I was surprised that they weren’t at all hard to find around Atlanta. You can actually find just about any type of food item in the metropolitan Atlanta area. It’s hardly Burkina Faso or North Dakota (bad food there). I’ve been to three different places here and all were good. Every pupuseria I’ve been to anywhere is much the same. There are always TVs blaring Mexican television shows. They are consistently dumpy places with almost no decor. One must invariably wait a while for the food to arrive and the pupusas usually take a minimum of 30 minutes. You may hear the chef pounding them from scratch in the kitchen.

The first place I went to was Rincon Latino, a giant, very popular place (5055 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-936-8181) with numerous blaring televisions. The pupusas were a little on the thick side for my taste, not bad or anything, but not too special. However, my wife ordered the Honduran Breakfast, which included fried eggs, plantains, beans and rice, if my memory serves me, and that was delicious. The other day we checked out Los Ranchos Restaurant (6200 Buford Highway, Norcross 770-840-0130). Along with a couple of pool tables, they have a stage and some sort of entertainment there that was starting as we left. The pupusas were excellent. The salsa that comes with the tortilla chips here is spicy, very yummy and fine for heaping on the pupusas. The wife had the El Salvadoran breakfast, which was the same as the Honduran Breakfast mentioned above and also excellent. But the best pupusas I’ve had yet in the Atlanta area were at El Salvador Restaurant (2566 Shallowford Rd NE Ste 110, Atlanta 404-929-9080), the dumpiest and tiniest of the three places. It’s the only one with its own beckoning billboard off highway 85. The arrangement of the booths and the seats in this place is ridiculous and the jukebox was blasting the day we were there. Though, all I really care about are the pupusas and at El Salvador Restaurant, they are divine, scrumptious little tortilla mounds. I would recommend you check out all three of these places.

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