Hidden Gem in Burque
The Pupuseria brings variety and taste to the forefront
I’ll shoot straight with you. I know almost nothing about the South Valley. It was never so much a fear of it—though I’ve had plenty of people tell me about their own personal fears of it—as much as it was convenience. I’m just never near that side of town, nor have I ever had to visit it for anything, other than a handful of occasions where I had a small errand to run at a specific location there. But I am on a quest of sorts to truly explore our city and the food within it, so when I asked around about places to check out on that side of town, I wasn’t surprised I’d never heard of it. Enter Pupuseria Y Restaurant Salvadoreño, a place of apparently very high repute that none of my friends have ever mentioned to me.
If, like me, this is your first time seeing those words in that order, you probably have questions. Let’s break it down a bit. First is the Pupuseria. Pupusas were a new one for me. Think of something akin to a quesadilla reaching its next logical step, by putting everything you want inside it and sealing the whole thing up. Using a corn meal tortilla, all the ingredients are packed inside and cooked up into something unique.
Restaurant needs no explanation, which leaves Salvadoreño, which is someone or something of El Salvador. Without getting too off track, there’s some controversy regarding El Salvador, Honduras and pupusas. Both countries claimed to be the creators of the dish, with a full-on negotiation between the two taking place during the signing of the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement, with Honduras eventually ceding the rights. The creation of these dates back nearly 2000 years, so it can be understood why it’s a hot button issue between the two. The point is, when you think pupusas, you need to think El Salvador.
I can tell you about all the different pupusas I tried when I got there, since the menu featured over 10 different styles, but the thing is, it’s like trying a bunch of different omelets; the ingredients may change, but at the end of the day, it’s about the eggs. In this case, every single pupusa was this soft and chewy pocket of ingredient goodness. From something as simple as ham and cheese to a chicharron spread with gentle flavors of other elements blended in, you can’t leave dissatisfied. It’s easy to see yourself sitting down and eating six in a single run, with each one costing $2.50 and with the radius of an appetizer plate. You can’t make a wrong choice on whichever version you want to eat.
Digging around on the menu, I noticed some of the entrées offered, and one in particular caught my eye. Listed as pollo gizado, all it said underneath was chicken with spicy sauce and potatoes. All of these are things I like, so on top of the five pupusas I ordered, I added this full meal to go along with it.
What came out was the secret star of this restaurant that I wasn’t expecting. Yes, the pupusas were great, and I dug into those well enough, but the pollo gizado was unreal. There are so many pieces of this dish that are jaw-dropping and wonderful, that finding the right place to start feels like a disservice to the rest of the dish and its components.
This chicken was cooked so perfectly it hardly made sense. It was literally falling off the bone but hadn’t been overcooked in the slightest. It was so moist and juicy that I genuinely don’t have any idea how they did it. This was a huge piece of what I assume was a thigh, based on the bone and color, and it took up almost half the plate all by itself. I mention that it was hard to pinpoint what part of the chicken it was because it was buried under a vibrant orange sauce that coated potatoes and chicken.
Whenever you see spicy sauce, you never really know what you’re going to get. Spicy has a ton of different iterations that mean a lot of different things to different people. In this case, it wasn’t a killer spicy. It was more subtle and flavorful, like a mild curry rather than something meant to blow out your taste buds. Paired with the chicken, it became this match made in heaven; add on the potatoes, which were wedged, and it was a medley worthy of attention. Served with a side of rice, refried beans and a small salad, what you end up with is a wonderful amalgamation of tastes all coming together to create something incredible.
As I tend to do now, I post pictures of where I’m eating across social media to give people an idea what I’m doing for the week ahead. I was very surprised to find that this was a hidden favorite among a lot of people within my social circle. That’s kind of the magic of Albuquerque. In a city like ours, it’s so spread out and we all have our favorite stomping grounds that we know like the back of our hands, yet everyone has a place outside their normal routine that they love. We need to share those with each other more often, because I would never have heard of Pupuseria Y Restaurant Salvadoreño otherwise. So get out there and take your friends out to your favorite place. They’ll appreciate it.
1701 Bridge Blvd SW
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10am-8pm Sat: 9am-8pm Sun: 10am-8pm
Vibe: Very laidback, family friendly
Alibi Recommends: Literally any pupusa, pollo gizado