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What's your latest food project? Tell us about it


zameloy Oct 7, 2006 05:31 PM

After spending a considerable time in Central America, I have developed a strong love for the Salvadorian miracle, the flor de loroco Pupusa. I am spending the next week or so in SF and was wondering if someone could give me the BEST pupuseria in the area. Pupusas and curtido, worth the trouble...

  1. p
    PDXpat Oct 18, 2006 07:57 PM

    We've recently tried Jalapeno's in Fairfield, and found it pretty tasty. They serve Mexican and Salvadorean food, plus a small selection of American breakfasts and sandwiches. We haven't tried the Mexican side of the menu, only the Salvadorean things, and have been quite pleased.

    Jalapeno's is a fairly typical hole in the wall sort of place, with 8 or 10 tables covered in vinyl tablecloths. Service is casual and quite friendly. They seem to do a strong lunch business, haven't been there for dinner. There is no lunch menu, portions and prices are the same as dinners. Portions are generous, prices are quite reasonable. Most pupusas are $1.75, lunch/dinner plates about $8.50 or $9.00.

    Pupusa offerings include chicharron, queso, queso con loroco, queso con zuchini, frijoles, pollo, azada, and combinations of those. Any of those can be ordered "de arroz" except pollo or azada. Pupusas seem to be made to order, and arrive piping hot. For anyone who happens to be on a pupusa crawl --or just searching for good food near Fairfield-- Jalapeno's is definitely worth a visit.

    Disclaimer: I profess no great expertise on pupusas in particular, nor Salvadorean food in general. We just happened to try this place, and found that we have liked the food we've eaten there. Cannot comment on such things as authenticity (whatever that means), or make comparisons to others.

    1690 W. Texas
    Fairfield CA 94533
    (707) 425-5074
    Closed Mondays

    1. e
      echo Oct 17, 2006 04:03 PM

      i like el zocalo too, and i have tried the loroco there. yes they are slow, cuz they sell a lot of pupusas to go and they do make them to order. when they finally arrive, they are piping hot. the curtido is the best way to soothe your scorched tongue.

      1. m
        monday Oct 13, 2006 06:24 PM

        Am I the only one that loves El Zocalo? I've never tried the loroco pupusas, but I will the next time I'm there. Pupusas made to order, so the place is slow, and the service is surly, but I still make a trip across town at least once a month.

        Mmmm, I'll have to check out Balompie, too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: monday
          niki rothman Oct 17, 2006 04:32 PM

          I went to the El Zocalo down on El Camino. I will never go there again. The pupusas were definitely NOT made to order - tough and not even that hot inside.

          1. re: niki rothman
            monday Oct 18, 2006 07:17 PM

            That is NOT the restaurant that I'm talking about. El Zocalo on Mission in San Francisco definitely DO make thier pupusas to order, and they are both tender/crisp and served almost too hot to eat.

        2. zameloy Oct 13, 2006 07:43 AM

          If you are loking for excellent traditional pupusas, Balompie is the spot. Super fresh loroco, wonderful oniony refried beans, crispy sweet tamales de maiz fritos, balanced curtido with plenty of oregano and most importantly the perfect pupusas. All served by a super friendly staff eager to tell you how beautiful their homeland is. I highly recommend this restaurant. I will definitely be eating there again before I head back home.

          1 Reply
          1. re: zameloy
            Atomica Oct 17, 2006 02:03 PM

            I like Balompie the best too. And the curtido is very good there. Pupusas at Nena's are pretty good (cheapest thing on the menu and almost impossible to find on the menu as well), but the curtido is hideous.

          2. k
            katya Oct 11, 2006 06:37 PM

            I'm definitely no pupusa expert, but the cheese and bean pupusas at La Michoacana in San Mateo were very good, and pleasantly non-greasy to boot!

            La Michoacana in San Mateo - Cheap Greaseless Tasty Pupusa Lunch... Who Could Ask for More?

            1. a
              AmySherman Oct 11, 2006 05:40 AM

              I found the pupusas at Panchitas little tough. The ones at El Patio are more tender and tastier.

              1. zameloy Oct 11, 2006 05:30 AM

                Alrighty...went to Panchita #2 and I am coming to you with a mixed review. After being ignored for a good 15 minutes (we were customers #5 and #6 in the restaurant) our "pleasant" young server came to take our order informing us that there were no tamales de pollo, tamales de chancho, avocado, chan, or horchata. We had tamales de maiz fritos which came to the table over fried but still tasty served with sour cream and house made refried beans. Not bad but definitely not the best we'd eaten. Then we had three pupusas: one lorroco and cheese, one bean lorroco and cheese and one revuelto with chicharrones, beans and cheese. The pupusas themselves were actually very good (although the lorroco was not fresh but frozen...so-so). The main proble here was that the accompniaments, as important as mustard is to a hot dog, were substandard. The curtido was pretty watered down with soggy translucent bits of cabbage floating in salty vinegar and the tomato sauce, usually bright and spicy tasted flat and tinny like old canned tomatoes. We asked for chile, the hottest they had. We got a greasy bottle of Tapatio, the king of hot sauces granted, but far from hot. Our overall experience was a 5 out of 10 (and I was dining with a Salvadorian so...I'm coming with a tiny shred of credability). We are hoping, nay praying that Balompie lives up to the reputation it has earned here in town. And yeah I'd nibble on some garrobo legs if I had the opportunity. Is Niman Ranch supplting those now?

                1 Reply
                1. re: zameloy
                  Atomica Oct 17, 2006 02:01 PM

                  It's ridiculous for them to be out of so many things. A lot of those items can be had cheaply at several markets just steps from their restaurant.

                2. n
                  niki rothman Oct 11, 2006 12:09 AM

                  I am an addict of Panchita's #2 at 16th. east of Valencia. Your 2 fat, fresh made to order pork & cheese pupusas with unlimited curtido, fresh fried chips and smoky salsa lunch (all I can eat) will cost you $3.25!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: niki rothman
                    chaddict Oct 11, 2006 12:29 AM

                    They have loroco pupusas, too.

                    1. re: chaddict
                      zameloy Oct 11, 2006 02:15 AM

                      ohhhh and that is even CLOSER! I'm running out the door right now!

                      1. re: zameloy
                        chaddict Oct 11, 2006 02:57 AM

                        Please do let us know how they rate. These were the only ones I have tried so I have no basis for comparison. That said, I thought they were ok and very filling. An interesting taste but don't know if I would crave it.

                  2. a
                    AmySherman Oct 9, 2006 10:58 PM

                    Yes! Loroco is very common in El Salvador, it's used in pupusas and with scrambled eggs.


                    1. j
                      Jefferson Oct 9, 2006 10:37 PM

                      The two branches of Taqueria La Bamba have queso con loroco (or lorocco?) pupusas. I asked about it once and they showed me a plastic back of flower buds, similar to those bags used for pre-washed lettuces. Does that sound right?

                      1. a
                        AmySherman Oct 8, 2006 04:52 PM

                        El Patio has amazing specialties from El Salvador including terrific pupusas. They come in two different styles, one which is made from rice flour. The filling are cheese, pork, zucchini or loroco. Their black beans, platanos fritos and crema are also outstanding.

                        El Patio
                        3193 Mission St about a block or so past Army
                        (415) 641-5056

                        menu available here:

                        1. l
                          lainielou Oct 7, 2006 11:37 PM

                          The best pupusas with loroco I've had were at La Santaneca . . i've only ever been to the one up Mission Street near Daly City. . .their curtido is very good as is their licuado de guayaba. The loroco in the pupusas is abundant. . more than I've ever had in a pupusa - very good.

                          1. zameloy Oct 7, 2006 06:01 PM

                            They sell lizard here?! I had to pass on the lizard because they were being dangerously over-hunted but would jump at the opportunity if it arose. Locals called it chicken of the trees. Have you tried it? I'm curious.

                            I did have a Loroco pupusa around the corner on Mission and I too found that more than anything it tasted like green chile. Still, I can't complain. A mediocre pupusa beats no pupusa!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: zameloy
                              rworange Oct 7, 2006 06:17 PM

                              It's the Bay Area ... it's organic ranch-raised lizard. I'm such a wuzzie and haven't tried it. However, here's an post with a link to an East Bay Express article where the reporter tried it and, uh, it tasted like chicken.

                              Actually people started eating them because it was effective pest control. Then they liked them so much, the lizard started to go extinct. So they saved the day with lizard farms ... ok, I'll stop being lazy and use the right word ... garrobo.

                              You can find it canned in some markets selling Salvadoran foods. Of course, requests for canned lizard recipes should go on Home Cooking.

                            2. rworange Oct 7, 2006 05:52 PM

                              I hope you'll report back about what you try in SF and how it compares to El Salvador.

                              Oddly enough, the only place I've tried to date where the loroco pupusa has any loroco taste is Montelimar Restaurant on Mission Street.


                              At the time, I just thought the taste was off. Then I had a loroco pupusa at probably one of the best Salvadoran restaurants in the Bay Area, and there was that taste again (sorry, this place is in the East Bay in a remote location ... but if you need a lizard meat fix ...


                              Balompie is often cited as one of the better pupusa places in SF. There is a link about my visit to Balompie in the above link.

                              The best pupusa/curtido I've had in SF has been at Rincon Latino

                              My visit

                              I've since found out that some Mexican market sell Salvadoran cheese with the loroco in it. Maybe why that's why the flavor of loroco doesn't come through often.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: rworange
                                Atomica Oct 8, 2006 03:49 PM

                                Is the lizard you're talking about iguana? I just remember Tony Bourdain, who will try just about anything once, thought that iguana was about the worst thing he'd ever put in his mouth. Or maybe it was just a really bad preparation?

                                1. re: Atomica
                                  rworange Oct 8, 2006 03:59 PM

                                  yep ... maybe not all iguana is the same

                                  1. re: rworange
                                    Scrapironchef Oct 9, 2006 08:43 PM

                                    You've got to get the free range organic, kosher, montessori schooled stuff, those farm raised ones just don't have the same flavor.

                                    BTW, Central Market on Appian carries the cheese with Loroco in it.

                                    1. re: rworange
                                      coolbean98 Oct 11, 2006 08:31 PM

                                      I also thought the iguana at Tazumal tasted like chicken! I would like to see this iguana that they use with my own eyes to make sure I'm not just getting canned shredded chicken.

                                      1. re: coolbean98
                                        rworange Oct 11, 2006 09:19 PM

                                        Well, that's encouraging ... sort of ... that it really, really tastes like chicken. This just cracked me up though ... show me the iguana, por favor.

                                        1. re: rworange
                                          coolbean98 Oct 11, 2006 09:41 PM

                                          Once I've confirmed it's really iguana, I'll be faced with a different problem...still wanting to eat it after having "met" it! Aye!

                                2. Robert Lauriston Oct 7, 2006 05:43 PM

                                  I don't know if they get fresh loroco. Balompie reportedly does:


                                  1. zameloy Oct 7, 2006 05:41 PM

                                    Wow, that's close. Who knew I was only just around the corner from wonderful. Thanks.

                                    1. Robert Lauriston Oct 7, 2006 05:34 PM

                                      The best curtido I've had is at La Santaneca, 2815 Mission near 24th St. I always ask for extra when ordering as their standard portion's only about half as much as I want.

                                      There's another branch in the outer Mission but I've never been there.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Mari Oct 7, 2006 11:05 PM

                                        La Santaneca is my favorite, especially because they have pupusas made with rice flour and the best horchata. The second location is on Mission Street past Cortland (about 2-3 blocks south of Cortland). That's the one I usually go to.

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