Jeff Smith 2 p.m., April 16
Pupusa Search: Victory on Imperial!
Still thinking about real pupusas -- okay, dreaming of real pupusas -- so last night I took my own advice: Go to the source.
Well, not quite El Salvador itself. But I happened to be up Imperial Avenue way, Grant Hill, at 25th.
Decided to take a hike east. Whistling “Singing in the Rain,” natch. Knew it was somewhere up here. I pass 26th, 27th, a couple of carnicerias, iglesias, mostly houses with dark little gardens.
There, glowing in the dark like a mothership from beyond the clouds, she sits. El Salvadoreño. Pupusa Central.
Kinda varnished golden inside. Looking warm, dry, and, even with it being a rainy Wednesday night and all, abuzz. Not packed, but no way empty either.
Inside it’s all varnished timber, gold-brown paint with green columns and painted ropes kinda lassoing each wall.
Plus, huge black-and-white photos of places like the presidential palace in San Salvador.
A Bible’s open at a page highlighting a text. Wooden plaque has been chiseled to say “Welcome, Bienvenidos!”
Francisco, the welcoming waiter
Luis, a Salvadoreño chowing with a bunch of gringo friends, says this is definitely the best pupusa place in town. And because it’s late (gone eight), I order what he’s having.
Also because it looks so fabulous. Big square platter loaded with pupusas, tamales, enchiladas, sour cream, frijoles, fried sweet plantain bananas, and yucca.
Not cheap. It’s the $16.99 sampler platter. But I figure this is for two, and I’ll take most of it home.
Pork and cheese pupusas
Yucca (cassava) fries
Curtido (fermented cabbage) side
It’s all delish, specially the pork-and-cheese pupusa. Thick, generously stuffed oval tortilla, basically. Tang it up with a touch of salt and dip it in the sour cream…heaven.
Also, the deep-fried ground-beef pastel. Actually, most everything is fried. They have hot sauces in bottles, but as Francisco says, heat’s not a Central American thing.
I eat maybe a third, plus glug a nice bottle of Salvadorean Goya Cola Champagne soda ($2.25).
He heh. Long as I can get it home through this rain, me and Carla’s got a midnight feast a-comin’.