10 Best Pupusas in Los Angeles
Pupusas are cheap and cheerful, exceptionally hearty, stuffed and griddled disks of slaked cornmeal or rice flour that originated in El Salvador. They invariably cost less than $3 in even the most stylish restaurants, and are most likely available somewhere near you.
Rachael Narins Los Molcajetes Pupusas
We learned three very important things when sampling them across L.A. The first is that there are five standard fillings to choose from: beans, cheese, minced pork (chicharrón, which is ground pork in this case, and not fried skin), loroco (a type of vine flower) and revuelta, which consists of beans, cheese and pork. And while the beans will for sure have lard, the masa itself won't, so this is a perfect vegetarian meal if you order correctly.
Second, and really most important, is that they do not come quickly, ever, so just put that out of your mind; this isn't fast food. The third lesson is that a pupusa is an incredibly formulaic thing. Variations on the theme are nuanced at best. Every spot will serve you a plate with your pupusas, some Tapatio hot sauce, a squeeze bottle of mild pureed salsa rojo and a help-yourself container of curtido, which is a slightly pickled cabbage slaw with carrots and oregano. For our list, we obviously took in to consideration taste and then the general atmosphere of the pupuseria, the assortment of fillings offered, and the accompaniments. Turn the page.
10. La Guanaquita:
Rachael Narins La Guanaquita
When you walk in to this panderia y pupuseria at the corner of Santa Monica and Vine, you hear the rhythmic thwacking sound of pupusas being formed by hand, which is a very good sign. The grandmotherly owner is hard at work in back and behind the counter as she has been for years, making sure that your food is made just so. The individual pupusas had the smallest diameter of any we encountered and can be ordered in your choice of the standard five fillings, plus spinach or chicken.The extra charm of this place lies in the fact that everything is served in hyper-up-to-date square dishware. 6242 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 962-3151.
9. Tita's Bakery and Restaurant:
Rachael Narins Tita's Bakery and Restaurant
This is not someplace you're going to want to plonk yourself down for a long meal. The restaurant is tiny and stuffy and the television is cranked to compete with the festive ranchero music. But the ladies cautiously avoiding you in the back kitchen are making some delightful pupusas. Thicker than most and served with what was by far -- and thankfully -- the spiciest curtido we tried. We recommend the plain version, which is bursting with Salvadoran quesillo cheese. 820 North Western Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 463-3512.
8. Sarita's Pupuseria:
Rachael Narins Sarita's
Located in downtown's Grand Central Market, Sarita's has been serving up pupusas for the hungry masses for more than ten years. Of their 15 options, we highly recommend the classic revueletas and suggest avoiding the canned vegetables and mushrooms. Perhaps it's just a fluke of their location -- but you can also get a mozzarella-basil version and there's a towering bottle of Sriracha in addition to Tapatio, which makes this the only cross-cultural place we encountered. Free parking with validation in the Grand Central Market lot. 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles; (213) 626-6320.
Turn the page for picks 7 through 5...
6242 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA