Last year the popular South Valley Pupuseria y Restaurant Salvadoreño opened a satellite restaurant on Gibson and San Mateo, in the shadow of the infamous “Chevy on a Stick” statue. When I ate there recently, I was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a famous set of golden arches and the word “McShit.”
I mention this because when my bill arrived, it said “5% off because of the shirt.”
Ed Aguilar, who co-owns the pair of restaurants with his mother Ruth, earned points for giving me points for my shirt. But he gets more for running a top-notch restaurant.
Pupusas are like advanced corn tortillas—as thick as pancakes and stuffed with goodies. In addition to a deep line of pupusas (chicharrón, fish, chicken, beef, ham and cheese, carne asada, beans, cheese, calabacitas), the menu includes an assortment of dishes that may seem vaguely familiar to aficionados of cuisines from south of the border. The large tamale Salvadoreño wasn’t drenched in red or green chile but was filled with olives, potatoes, capers and shredded chicken.
Pupusas are like advanced corn tortillas—as thick as pancakes and stuffed with goodies.
Five bucks for a side of boiled yucca seemed a little steep, but I went for it because I have a soft spot for those sweet tubers. The yucca arrived alongside a small salad and a large helping of chicharrónes, which easily moved it from overpriced to a deal.
Fish soup (caldo de pescado) had a touch of sour cream and delivered a whole-body satisfaction akin to a fish coconut curry. This Salvadoran comfort food can also be ordered with shrimp.
The flavor of a green chile pupusa was similar to a chile relleno, while the loroco pupusa, stuffed with the buds of the Central American loroco flower (aka Fernaldia pandurata), was thoroughly unique. The loroco had a wild, vegetative presence, like fiddlehead ferns or asparagus.
Pupuseria y Restaurant Salvadoreño is worth a visit, whether it’s at the new address or the flagship location on Bridge. The food is full of pleasant surprises and simple elegance. And it’s served by friendly staff who know enough to reward you for making fun of McDonalds.
The Alibi recommends:
• Surf—Mojarra frita (whole fried tilapia), caldo de pescado
• Turf—boiled yucca, loroco flower and chicharrón pupusas, tamale Salvadoreño
• Washing it all down with a glass of carrot-orange-celery juice
Pupuseria y Restaurant Salvadoreño
2025 Ridgecrest SE (corner of Gibson and San Mateo)
goforpupusas.com (coupons available on the website)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Price range: $2.25 (stuffed pupusas ) to $10.25 ( Mojarra frita plate)