Try Something New: Pupusas and more at Salvadoreno
I had been seeing a lot of talk about pupusas and Salvadoreno Restaurant on Facebook and I needed to figure out what all the chatter was about. First, I did a little research on the origins of pupusas and I was fascinated with what I found.
So, really, what the heck is a pupusa?
At its core, a pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made from a thick corn tortilla made from masa that is filled with ingredients and then sealed and flattened and grilled. You can get them with a variety of fillings that range from refried beans, a blend of cheese, pork and beans or loroco, a vine flower bud from Central America.
If you have ever had a Mexican gordita than you have a good idea about what a pupusa is. Sort of. Generally, the gordita has a lot more filling that a pupusa, but the idea is fundamentally the same. Same goes with the South American arepas, with the main distinction being that pupusas are filled before cooking and arepas are done in the opposite order.
The method of making a pupusa is intense and fascinating to watch. On my recent trip to Salvadoreno in Mesa I was able to take a video of them making a Pupusa Revuelta.
The Ramirez family opened up their first location (at Southern and Mesa) in 2002 and they now have four locations in the Valley and one in California. All the locations are family owned and operated and are treasured by their loyal customers. Their employees are also extremely loyal; the Mesa location their cooks have been with the family for 10 and 8 years. In the current industry that is quite rare.
When I met with and spoke with Karlos Ramirez, who operated the Mesa and Southern location, he noted that he and his family want to introduce their customers to Salvadoran food and educate residents that there is more Latin cuisine in the Valley than just Mexican fare.
The Mesa location is nestled in a quiet shopping plaza and has a simple décor, nothing fancy. This is one of those unassuming spots that doesn’t need a lot of flash because the food speaks for itself. I have to be honest and note that prior to my visit; I had never had a pupusa–that’s why I did all of that research before visiting. I can also say with confidence that my visit last week will not be my last.
What kind of pupusas can I get at Salvadoreno?
They offer three pupusa combination plates that range from $6.95 to $9.95 and allow you to mix and match two or three pupusas and come with curtdo, salsa and two sides of your choice. On my visit I had the Revuelta and Loroco pupusas. I truly loved the Revuelta for the familiar flavors of pork, bean and cheese. The masa tortilla was thoroughly grilled and crispy. The pork is ground, very nearly to a paste and blends perfectly with the smooth consistency of the beans and cheese. The Loroco pupusa has an interesting flavor, somewhere between broccoli and squash. The plate comes with a mild hot sauce that really adds to the flavor profile, but the one component that really elevated the dish to great heights is the Curtido. Curtido is a lightly fermented cabbage relish. It’s a little bit like a coleslaw and sauerkraut at the same time, but the emphasis here is on the tart vinegar and the addition of oregano and other spices. I’m not a fan of coleslaw, but I gobbled up this tasty version.
If you don’t want to commit to a combination plate, you are able to order pupusas a la carte as well. You can pick from the below flavor combinations:
Pork with Cheese
Pork, cheese and beans
Loroco flower with cheese
Grilled steak with cheese
Shrimp with cheese
Spinach with cheese
Mushrooms with cheese
Want to swing by for breakfast? They have you covered there as well. You can start your day with fried plantains and scrambled eggs or scrambled eggs with Salvadoran chorizo (Desayuno Chorizo Salvadoreno con Huevos Revueltos) amongst other dishes.
Salvadorenos also has a variety of traditional entrees for lunch or dinner. Some of the entrée highlights:
Churrasco Salvadoreno | grilled steak, Salvadoran sausage, grilled shrimp, fried plantains, black rice, beans, fresh cheese, handmade corn tortillas
Pollo en Pipian | pumpkin chicken
Lengua de Res Guisada | beef tongue stew
Pollo Frito Estilo Hondureno | Honduran style fried chicken
They also have a ton of seafood options, appetizers, soups and I hear that the tamales here are pretty amazing. I’ll definitely be back, again and again, to try out as many menu items as I can work my way through.
The restaurant also provides catering services and are gearing up for their 8th Annual Pupusa Festival in November. Make sure to check out the event and get your tickets early. The weather will be perfect and the food will be fantastic.
But, don’t wait until November to try something new! Go check out the closest Salvadoreno to you and see for yourself how great the pupusas and curtido are and whatever else will satisfy your appetite.
Phoenix | 8911 N. Central Ave. | Phoenix | 85020 | 602.870.2955
Phoenix | 7333 W. Thomas Road | Phoenix | 85033 | 623.846.6100
Mesa | 303 E. Southern Ave. | Mesa | 85210 | 480.835.1038
Mesa | 330 S. Gilbert Road | Mesa | 85204 | 480.964.5577
© Taryn Jeffries 2016