For the uninitiated, Salvadorean food’s most popular emissary is the humble pupusa. Pupusas are essentially a chubby tortilla that is transformed from a flat bread to a round cake and then stuffed with various fillings including, pork, cheese, beans, mushrooms, jalapeños or a combination of all of these. Best of all these are very tasty and very cheap. In San Diego our go-to pupusa spot is El Salvadoreño restaurant in Grant Hill.
This quaint restaurant is family owned and has been operating since 1995. The servers are always super nice and don’t mind explaining what dishes are although it might help to have someone who speaks Spanish with you as some things are harder to translate. They serve simple Salvadorean food such as pupusas; soups; plated dishes with rice, beans and meat; and tamals. This is the kind of simple but delicious stuff your non-existent Salvadorean grandmother would cook for you :)
El Salvadoreño Menu
DRINKS: We started off with the Ensalada a typical juice based drink made with pineapple, orange juice, cashew fruit juice, and apples. Its slightly sweetened and has chopped up bits of apples, pineapples and orange on top.
We also ordered the Granadilla. Granadilla is just passion fruit juice. I like the ensalada for the chunks of fruit but for flavor the passion fruit juice is amazing. Also if you don’t like chunks of stuff in your drink.
ENTREE: Obviously we ordered pupusas. A lot of them. I went with the Pork and Cheese Pupusa. It has a thin layer of shredded pork and melty cheese. Note that you top your pupusas with the spicy vinegar-y slaw they give you and you can add some homemade salsa to it as well. Although it’s not really a chunky salsa its a smooth sauce, maybe homemade hot sauce is a better descriptor? None of these condiments are very spicy though, I would say they are both on the mild side.
Pork and Cheese Pupusa
We also got Pork and Beans, Mushroom and Cheese and Jalapeño and Cheese Pupusas. Sadly you can’y really visually distinguish one from the other but you’ll have to take my word for it. The one with the dark spots is the mushroom one. The pork and cheese and the pork and beans were our favorites of the night I think.
I also ordered a Sopa de Camaron, or shrimp soup. This was a huge bowl filled with a very flavorful broth with lots of shrimp bobbing in the surface and lots of tasty vegetables like celery, carrots, and potatoes swimming underneath. This is a little pricier than pupusas due to the shrimp and this is actually a large soup that is meant to be shared. I love soup and this broth was great but even I could not finish all the broth. Although you bet I hunted down every little last shrimp in there.
Sopa de Camaron
This is also served with Salvadorean tortillas (which are thicker than Mexican tortillas), fresh cilantro, diced onions and lime. I assume people make little tacos out of the shrimp? I just kind of added some cilantro, lime and onions to my soup and then dipped those yummy fat tortillas in the soup.
Tortillas and Condiments
See how chubby they are.
Perhaps incorrectly adding condiments to the soup.
And that was our meal. As far as dessert goes they have these deep fried milk based pastries that are delicious and I believe they have rice pudding too. We were too full to order dessert. Although three pupusas might not seem like a lot of food those are dense little corn flour orbs.
Besides the pupudas have also had the baleados (essentially a huge taco served with lots of meat, soft cheese, creamy sauce and pickled onions) and the tamals (mostly like Mexican tamales) and those were both really good.
Great meal, great service, great prices and its always fun to try different kinds of food and for me to try to pretend I speak Spanish :)
Pupusas (x4) $10.00
Sopa de Camaron $13.00*
TOTAL (w/ tax): $28.00
*My bad I can’t really remember the exact prices and can’t find all the menu pages online so this is an approximation.
2845 Imperial Ave
San Diego, CA 92102
b/t 29th St & 28th St in Grant Hill