For most of my life I’ve viewed street tacos as one of the best foods on the planet. A street taco is small, savory and spicy; the perfect snack for a summer day.
But there may be a food that rivals that perfection: Pupusas.
A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with fillings like cheese, pork, or refried beans. It’s then topped with a curtido, or spicy coleslaw. Pupusas were first eaten centuries ago; and those early pupusas were vegetarian, filled with squash flowers, herbs, mushrooms and salt. (Flavors you can still find here in Seattle!)
Pupusas made their way to the United States in the 1980’s, when the Salvadoran civil war led to a mass Salvadoran migration in the U.S. Those Salvadoran migrants began whipping up comfort food from home, and now we are all the beneficiaries.
Here are some of the best spots to try pupusas in Seattle!
Guanaco’s Tacos Pupuseria. At only $2.90 each, the pupusas at Capitol Hill’s Guanaco’s Tacos Pupuseria are a cheap way to get full- fast. Each little circle of heaven is stuffed with your choice of three items. You get to choose from: Chicharrón (pork), cheese, Loroco (a tropical herb), chicken, refried beans, Nopal (cactus), Ayote (zucchini), spinach, or jalapenos. You can mix and match, and I promise you, you won’t stop at just one. Each pupusa comes with a side of sweet slaw and your choice of red or green salsa.
Tiko Riko. In case you’re looking to enter a food coma you may never wake from (or maybe just want to share with a friend or two) you should order the 5 Pupusas and a Drink platter from Greenwood’s Tiko Riko. My favorite is the classic Loroco and cheese. Dip that baby in some green hot salsa and wait for your taste buds to sing.
Salvadorean Bakery & Restaurant. This family business opened in 1996 by two sisters: Aminta and Ana. They came from El Salvador with the dream that people from their home country living in Seattle could keep enjoying their favorite traditional meals. At $2.75 per pupusa, you can choose from a wide variety of flavors; including seasoned pork, chicken and cheese, zucchini flower blossoms, and cheese with shredded zucchini. Wash down your pupusas with a glass of their excellent horchata.
Berta’s Salvadoran Kitchen. Anyone who says there isn’t good Mexican food in Seattle just needs to come down south to Burien. There’s great Mexican AND Salvadoran food everywhere. The pupusas at Berta’s Salvadoran Kitchen are gorgeous: handmade fresh every day. (Often by Berta herself!) My favorite is the shrimp and cheese made with a thick corn tortilla. Pair it with a spicy michelada (beer + tomato juice + spices) for one of the best meals around that’s less than 10 bucks.