Thursday, September 13, 2007

Viva El Salvador

September 15 is Salvadoran Independence Day, so I thought it would be a good time to do an update on my continuing search for the greatest pupusa in Los Angeles.

A little review: As you may recall, earlier in the year I did a Pupusa Roundup. Horrifyingly, only weeks after my roundup, the very best pupuseria I found closed its doors. Torn with grief, anger and disappointment, I continue the search for the perfect melding of masa, pork, cheese and beans.

My next try was the new, fancy looking Jaragua on Beverly east of Western. The recently opened orange adobe tower seemed to promise something innovative or slightly upscale. Unfortunately, beneath the beautiful exterior of the place was a pretty unexceptional Salvadoran menu with unimpressive food.

Next stop, tipped off by an anonymous commenter, was El Palmar, a pupuseria in a strip mall at the northwest corner of Third Street and New Hampshire. Now, this place was a contender. The pupusas revueltas were smaller than most but were wonderfully crispy and had a nice balance of pork, beans and cheese. Their Plato Tipico is a great deal...for $6.99 you get two pupusas and two pieces each of yuca, plantains and pastelitos de carne (meat pies). These folks know their way around the frier. The yuca sticks were perfect, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The plantains were well caramelized and not at all mealy and the pastelitos, a dish I generally don't favor, were fried golden orange and had a tasty ground beef filling. Now for pure pupusa goodness, I'd still take La Pupusa Loca, but El Palmar is a good alternative.

Lastly, if you are looking for a fun way to spend Salvadoran Independence Day, stop by Helados Pops, the Salvadoran ice cream shop on Vermont south of Santa Monica. El Salvador is a land of wonderful tropical fruit that are hard to find in the US, and Helados Pops excels at Salvadoran fruit flavors. Try the rich and creamy Zapote (a luscious, vanilla tasting fruit) ice cream or the tangy maraƱon (the fruit of the cashew nut) sorbet. And Helados Pops has some of the best Strawberry ice cream I've had anywhere.

Happy Independence Day and remember, November 13 is National Pupusa Day in El Salvador.


Bon Vivant said...

The ideal situation, of course, is to be invited to a party full of Salvadoreans and then you will get great pupusas. I find that restaurant pupusas are much greasier than they have to be.

Lately, I've been getting my fix at the pupusa place at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sundays. Their curtido smells like kimchee (I hope that's a good sign).

sku said...

That's Pupusas Delmy at the Hollywood FM...I wrote them up in my big roundup in June. They have very good pupusas, though quite different than the traditional style. I recently noticed they changed curtido, moving from a purple cabbage to a traditional...still very nice.

Curtido is certainly in the same family as kim chee in that it's pickled cabbage, but I find it more similar tasting to saurkraut than kimchee, emphasizing the sour over the heat. The dominant spice in curtido is usually oregano.