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Panuelo de Guayava (Image: Karen Rose/Seattle Refined)

In Praise of Pupusas: Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant brings it home

If you drive by the Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant on Roxbury Street in White Center during late afternoon, you might see locals lined up around the block for pupusas and pastelito de leche. Rich and diverse, El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean, Honduras and Guatemala, making for cuisine that is as beautiful as it is flavorful.

Aminta Elgin and her sister Anna Castro immigrated from El Salvador to the United States in their early 20s amid El Salvador’s civil war, which officially began in 1980. During this time, their government’s military targeted civilians who were suspected of supporting economic and social reform. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people died between 1980 and 1992 as a result of that war.

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“We came from El Salvador, where we grew up in the baking business, to escape the dangers in our country,” said Elgin. “When we came to Seattle we started working, like most immigrants who come from another country. We worked cleaning hospitals and hotels, but wanted to open our own baking business. We recognized there was no El Salvadorean food here at all. So, in 1995, we decided to give it our best shot, and here we are 25 years later."

Elgin adopted the role of baker, creating delicious cookies, pastries and cakes, while her sister Castro took on the business side of the bakery. They credit their family for the love and dedication to baking and creating tasty dishes.

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“My grandma, my aunt, and my mom were all bakers in El Salvador,” she said. “All they did was bake and make tamales for the food industry. I just grew up around them and they taught me to bake as well. However, for more sophisticated skills like cake decorating, I received more training.”

The bakery serves authentic, savory dishes alongside their sweet baked goods. Delicious and popular dishes like pupusas, tamales, and carne asada are a few of the daily options that locals line up around the block to order. Pupusas are thick, griddled corn cakes that are a popular street food in El Salvador. They’re ordered with savory fillings like cheese, beans or chicken.

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“Everyone has their own way of cooking and using ingredients,” said Elgin. “Although most Latin American countries use corn, beans, and rice - we use them differently. For example, many people think pupusas are like tapas, but they are made differently. You have to fry pupusas, so you can definitely tell the difference. We enjoy bringing these unique aspects of Salvadorean culture to Seattle through our food.”

If you’re ready to take a culinary adventure to Central America, look no further than the tasty treats at Salvadorean Restaurant and Bakery. From tamales, chilie rellenos and pupusas, to sweet bites like canastitas de queso and panuelo de guayava, the dishes are as rich and flavorful as their country of origin.

“The food we make and serve here is like the street food from El Salvador,” said Elgin. “Our yuca frita, plantain, and Salvadorian style sandwiches are all very popular. We offer the best chicken soup, the best tres leches cake, and delicious pupusas. Most other pupuserias don’t offer the sweets or desserts [like] we have. Our food is really authentic. When you walk into our small business, you feel like you are in El Salvador.”

Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant is located at 1719 SW Roxbury St in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle.

Looking to support more small businesses like Salvadorean Bakery? We're proud to collaborate with Intentionalist, an online guide that makes it easier for you to find/connect with diverse local businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.