What is a pupusa?
"Pupusa" comes from the Mayan word that means "sacred food". Long ago, this cheese, bean, and meat filled "tortilla" was a typical meal, exclusive to Salvadorians. A few years ago I started hearing about pupusas in Houston. Even a well known fast food chain had one on the menu.
But here we are, enjoying homemade pupusas (and taco de carne on left) at a real Salvadoran restaurant. 5 bonus points for learning quite a bit about pupusas!
One of many Pupusa spots
La Pupusa Loca is proud to have 6 locations in the Houston area. As you can see this place has no curb appeal. I actually discovered it five years ago (with my mom and sister) in a strip mall on Hwy 6, sandwiched between a liquor store (with a parrot that strutted up and down the counter) and a Pennywise Thrift Shop. We were determined to find out what a pupusa tasted like, so in we went. We had a hard time ordering at the counter because no one in the restaurant spoke English.
Now, my husband and son like to come so they can practice their Spanish!
It was quiet on this visit, a few days after Christmas. We were able to spend more time asking questions while ordering. I only spoke one word of Spanish. "Nuevo?" as I pointed to the 3 new flat screen TVs on the wall, which were showing a Spanish soap opera.
Behind the counter is a window into the kitchen, where Don (who is a foot taller than me) could spot a table holding a mountain of pupusa dough. He also spotted the Pupusera, (pupusa specialist) who kneads handfuls of dough , then flattens them into tortilla shapes. After filling with cheese, beans or pork she cooks them on a clay pan (comal) until piping hot!
I have shown you the most appealing part of the restaurant decor. I believe the wall mural adds a nice folk art touch! There's also a flag of El Salvadore and a juke box. (Shakira was the only artist I recognized) The tables are a little fast foodish and there is a worn feel to this 26 year old restaurant. This is not a place I would recommend to everyone I know. You have to be up for adventure. But since the purpose of my food exploration is to "give me an unusual or authentic experience", I think this place achieves that. 1 bonus point for the mural and 1 bonus for the flag!
More about the food!
Curtido and Pasteles!
I will admit, it has taken me 4 visits to really begin to appreciate the food here. The curtido (dilled slaw) looks very scary in the jar. But it does add a great tang to the pupusas. The pasteles (meat pies) are packed with meat and spice...piping hot and filling! I finally feel comfortable in this setting, eating on sheets of waxed paper, surrounded by Spanish TV or voices or music. I will give 4 points for food at La Pupusa Loca!
It's more difficult for me to have a people encounter when I speak no Spanish, but wouldn't you know I would meet an English speaking fellow after all.
I think I was so surprised when this artist said hello, that I forgot to ask his name. He spotted us through the window and kind of like the street vendors who recognize the tourists in Europe, he felt sure we would like to have him do a quick portrait for $20.00. Now sometimes I find this annoying, but he was soft spoken and polite. I explained we had only a few minutes more because we were off to take Scott to the airport. But I asked if I could pay him a few dollars for a photo of him with his work. He was more than pleased. A win win for all! 5 bonus points for a different kind of people encounter!
16 Points for Salvadoran Experience at La Pupusa Loca!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.