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Pupusa truck sighting [Fresno]

PolarBear Mar 13, 2008 08:49 AM

Need help here from all the eagle eyed hounds in the 'burg. Last night around 8 pm returning from another stellar mini-chowdown at Thai Royal Orchid, driving west on Herndon approaching Blackstone we came up on a big white taco truck with large blue lettering on the back and side with just the word "Pupusas" on it, nicely painted in blue letters with a darker outline. As we passed it I caught the name La Sabrosita on the front panel of the driver's side.

I'm still kicking myself for not listening to LadyPB's advice to follow him. I've googled the name with no luck. My guess is the driver may have been heading home to somewhere in the Pinedale area (NW of the intersection).

  1. paso_gurl_100 Mar 13, 2008 05:55 PM

    OMG, when you catch up with him - would you PLEASE send him to SLO county?! that is one thing I have YET to see up here! Yum, yum!

    4 Replies
    1. re: paso_gurl_100
      PolarBear Mar 13, 2008 07:21 PM

      You're so right, have yet to catch a glimpse of pupusas south of Seaside. I assume all would change entering the LA basin.

      1. re: PolarBear
        toodie jane Mar 17, 2008 10:12 PM

        There are pupusas in Santa Maria on W Main, one block west of Broadway in the old Brick's Cafe building. Santa Maria is the well for cocina centro americana on the central coast.

        1. re: PolarBear
          l
          liljan Mar 18, 2008 10:27 AM

          The new Burrito King in Madera at Gateway/north of the Fourth Street exit has pupusas on their menu. They've been open three months now and we just tried it last Sat night. I guess the name of the place was a turn off for me. We tried the carnitas sopes - wonderful and moist carnitas over homemade sopes. The abondigas soup was also tasty as well as the shrimp ceviche tostadas. Pretty decent martinis so we'll be back for happy hour later this week and maybe to try the pupusas. Oh...and we were suprised at the nice decor of the place - a definite improvement over most of the dive burritos places in Madera.

          1. re: liljan
            PolarBear Mar 20, 2008 09:38 AM

            Thanks for the heads up, liljan. I'll add this to my "Driving 99" list.

      2. KenWritez Mar 19, 2008 10:18 PM

        I saw the truck this evening going east on Herndon and memorized the address:

        La Sabrosita
        1639 W Orange in Fresno. (Might have been 1839, but I don't think so.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: KenWritez
          t
          tavmark Mar 20, 2008 05:57 AM

          Well if I happen to see something that looks like a convoy of cars following a big white taco truck, I'll know who it is. :))

        2. KenWritez Mar 20, 2008 04:33 PM

          The Sturdy Wench says there is a restaurant featuring pupusas in downtown, on Divisadero, If you travel from the jail to Julia's #2 on (Divisadero?), you pass it on the right. I now remember seeing this place, but have no info on it.

          6 Replies
          1. re: KenWritez
            PolarBear Mar 20, 2008 06:31 PM

            I think this was our favorite spot that closed not too long ago, NE corner of Fresno St. and McKenzie, at the light just past the hospital on Divisadero travelling north? Sadly, RIP, they did great pupusas and were wonderful people. Although my BIL just popped in and we wonder if the SW was heading NW on Van Ness or some such street, if so we may have a new candidate.

            I managed to drop by 1629 S. Orange today, in a nutshell, got a phone number for the boss there, it's a taco truck parking lot/catering center, will follow up manana.
            BTW, do you recall what time in the evening you saw the truck heading east on Herndon? Starting to appear that there might be a north Fresno E-W arrangement going.

            1. re: PolarBear
              KenWritez Mar 21, 2008 07:38 AM

              Hmmm, not recalling the exact time, but it was late afternoon.

              BTW, have you tried Julia's #2? It's one of the SW's favortite spots and I've enjoyed the food every time I've been there. The service is remarkably good; the waitress has always been friendly, willing to accomodate special orders, and does a good job of keeping an eye on your drink levels.

              1. re: KenWritez
                PolarBear Mar 21, 2008 08:02 AM

                Julia's is a favorite although I have to admit to being in a huevos rancheros rut whenever I go there. Must branch out and try more of the menu, what else have you enjoyed there?

                1. re: PolarBear
                  cocktailqueen77 Mar 22, 2008 03:26 PM

                  Interestingly enough, a coworker of mine walked into work with a t-shirt that said "Got Pupusas?"...so given that this thread has had me quite entertained and intrigued I asked him where he could find pupusas. He confirmed the place on Divisidero, and added another location which is located near Chestnut and Kings Canyon. After a little Googling I found this:

                  www.yelp.com/biz/vallarta-supermarket-fresno

                  Which sent me to this:

                  www.vallartasupermarket.com/

                  Mon-Sun 7:00 AM-10:00 PM
                  4831 E. Butler Ave.
                  Fresno, Ca. 93727
                  Phone: 559-455-0179

                  Hope that helps!!

                  1. re: PolarBear
                    KenWritez Mar 23, 2008 06:51 PM

                    The chile colorado is muy excellente, it's what I get when I go. I know, I know, I need to branch out same as you.

                2. re: PolarBear
                  glazebrookgirl Mar 26, 2008 12:18 PM

                  Rincon Salvadoreño was at Fresno and McKenzie, back in the day. RIP. I think they did not only the masa pupusas, but also the rice pupusas.

                  Edited to add link:
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/323056 (PB's report)

              2. PolarBear Mar 24, 2008 04:02 PM

                I spoke with the boss man on S. Orange today, according to him the truck can be found at the Cherry Auction on weekends (Sat-Sun). He also said they have a restaurant somewhere on Belmont, couldn't recall any names or more specific location.

                2 Replies
                1. re: PolarBear
                  KenWritez Mar 26, 2008 08:41 AM

                  What or where is the Cherry Auction?

                  1. re: KenWritez
                    PolarBear Mar 26, 2008 08:48 AM

                    It's a flea market that's been around as long as I can remember at the NE corner of S. Cherry and American Aves. just east of Easton and the new Hwy 41.

                    http://www.cherryavenueauction.com/

                2. glazebrookgirl Mar 26, 2008 12:16 PM

                  Hey PB, I don't know anything about the place on Belmont you are looking for. However, I have a small note in my food file regarding a potential spot for pupusas, Ambiente Tropical. I have no idea if they are good or not or any real info, only that at one point in time they did serve pupusas along with some other Latin favorites. Might be worth a look.

                  Ambiente Tropical
                  4422 East Kings Canyon Road, Fresno, CA 93702
                  559-251-0053

                  Edited to add: just called them and they are open every day from 9am until 8:30pm and they do serve pupusas. Hmmm, I think I am getting hungry!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: glazebrookgirl
                    glazebrookgirl Mar 26, 2008 12:32 PM

                    Random googling brought up this recent article in Fresno Famous regarding pupusas at Broadway and Divisadero St. A new spot called Laurita's.

                    http://www.fresnofamous.com/pupusodro...

                    Ok, I'll stop googling now...

                    1. re: glazebrookgirl
                      PolarBear Mar 26, 2008 02:41 PM

                      Thanks for digging that up gbg. The time I went by they were closed and I really couldn't tell if it was just that day or permanently. Good to hear we have a number of places to explore, Laurita's is at the top of my list.

                    2. glazebrookgirl Mar 29, 2008 12:18 PM

                      Hubby and I went on a mini-pupusa crawl yesterday and went to Laurita's and Ambiente Tropical. Both of these spots featured hand-made pupusas and other Salvadorean goodies. Laurita's had the smaller menu and the smaller restaurant and seems to be more a homespun type of place. A piece of advice, get there early! We arrived for early dinner (5:30pm) and they were out of Salvadorean tamales, chicken, and beans. So we ordered one pupusa queso and a plate of yuca served with tomatoes, pork (chicharon?), with jalapenoes. Even though they were out of many of the dishes we would have liked to try, the service was very friendly and it looks as though the mom runs the kitchen and the son, Eric, takes the orders. They had run out of take out menus, but Eric thoughtfully wrote down his name and the phone number so we could call ahead if we wanted to. We watched the mom make the pupusas by hand and pretty soon could smell the grilling masa. Everything is made to order, so it isn't speedy, but it is worth waiting for. The yuca came out and it was delicious! Cubes of yuca had been boiled in some kind of stock or sauce and then fried on the grill so they had the texture of potatos on the inside with a crispy skin on the outside. The tomato sauce and pork was spooned on top and it was served with a traditional garnish of pickled cabbage mixed with other veggies. It was very tasty,and filling, with a comfort food feel. The pupusa was thin and crispy with a nice layer of cheese. It came with the tomato sauce, slightly spicy, and the pickled cabbage/veggies. The pupusa was not greasy at all, and I especially enjoyed the grilled corn taste from the masa. Hubby is not a big bread person, so I don't really think it is his thing, but I love carbs and cheese so what is not to love when those things come together? With two cans of soda our bill was around $8, so you can't really beat that.

                      Next up was Ambiente Tropical and we were feeling slightly full from Laurita's, so we went for small plates only. Too bad we were so full because Tropical has an extensive menu. They have five different kinds of pupusas made to order and you can watch the girls making yours in the back. There is the revueltas (beans, cheese, and pork), chicharron (pork and cheese), queso con loroco (cheese and squash blossom), frijoles y queso (cheese and beans), and de ayote y queso (cheese and a zucchini type veggie). We ended up ordering the revueltas, the loroco, and frijoles y queso as they too were out of the Salvadorean tamales (we must return for those!). I think my favorite one here was the queso con loroco as it had a nice flavor that offset the richness of the cheese quite well. The pupsas were slightly more greasy than at Laurita's, but not off-putting. They were all served with the tomato sauce (more spicy than Laurita's) and pickled cabbage/veggies. They were all delicious and we had no problem finishing them off. We perused the menu at Tropical and we decided we needed to come back. They also have the the yuca plates, several different kinds of Salvadorean tamales (including tamales de elote con crema con queso), Salvadorean enchiladas, various empanadas, fried plantains, and combo plates that combine pupusas and tamales with fried bananas, beans, and creama. They also serve breakfast, fried chicken, cream with chicken, and pork chops. They also have an extensive soup line-up including a cat fish soup, shrimp soup, albondigas, and beef feet Salvadorian style. Now I am just sounding like a broken record and I haven't even got to the seafood dishes, so I will report back as we explore the place more.

                      Both of the people who took our order in each restaurant were very nice and patient and had no problem explaining the various options to us. I have a feeling we will go back to both places for different reasons.

                      Laurita's
                      619 Divisadero
                      266-5968 (call ahead and ask for Eric)
                      Broadway/Divisadero

                      Ambiente Tropical
                      4422 E. Kings Canyon Rd
                      251-0053
                      (the sign outside just says Pupusas, I think)

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: glazebrookgirl
                        PolarBear Apr 1, 2008 06:41 PM

                        Hit Lauritas for lunch today around 11:45, pretty quiet with one couple waiting for their togo order. Decided on the #2 pupusa, which I was told had everything, queso, larocca, and puerco (2.00), and the Yuca dish (4.99). Sadly shortly found out that the Yuca wouldn't be ready for about 45 min. so opted for an extra pupusa and the pork Salvadorean tamale, again a few minutes later learned that only the chicken was available at the moment. Fine, no big deal. The tamale was a revelation, wrapped in parchment paper and then banana leaf, it was moist, full of flavor and plenty of chicken. Must note that I'm hypercritical of tamales that are dry, heavy on masa and short of fillings. This tamale made me a believer.

                        The pupusas (I got a second one as a replacement to my original order) were excellent, and I don't think it's because I have become jaded due to the downhill slide of my former source, El Miguelena in Seaside, or the closing of El Rincon on Fresno St. The filling to masa ratio was perfect, the curtido while minimal was just the right amount for two, the tomato sauce was actually richer than all my other experiences, though lacking any discernible heat which I made up for by having Erci bring me a little bowl of their verde salsa, which I liberally applied to the tamale as well. Hound heaven!

                        This is a true hound destination, run don't walk, let's keep this wonderful family in business.

                        An aside, en route I accidently drove into the place on the south side of Divisadero called El Cazuelitas (iirc), mainly because there were at least a dozen vehicles parked in the lot prior to the noon hour. Picked up a menu to take with me, looks like a worthwhile houndly investigation. GBG, thanks much for you and Alan's work in the trenches, we all are eating so much better for it.

                        1. re: PolarBear
                          glazebrookgirl Apr 1, 2008 10:32 PM

                          PB, glad you enjoyed Laurita's, it seems as though they run out of things really early! I wonder what time one must get there to get the pork tamale!

                          In the last paragraph, when you said you drove into the El Cazuelitas, I thought it was pretty funny, because I imagine you actually driving INTO the restaurant. Hopefully that wasn't the case. And of course, we always look forward to your reviews!

                          1. re: glazebrookgirl
                            alanstotle Apr 2, 2008 08:11 AM

                            Great! Now we'll have to wait a few weeks before we can eat at El Cazuelitas because they'll need to fix the large hole in their wall from where PB drove into the restaurant.

                            Oh...wait...April Fool's Day was yesterday!

                            BTW, is the name really EL Cazuelitas instead of LAS Cazuelitas?

                            1. re: alanstotle
                              PolarBear Apr 2, 2008 05:12 PM

                              Au contraire, mon frere..... the upside is they now have a take-out drive through, no labor costs or those pesky construction permits.

                              And yes, you are correct:

                              Las Cazuelitas de Tijuana
                              2013 Broadway
                              442-0019

                              The menu isn't as large as some places, but there was a hand written sign out front called attention to their pulled pork, hmmmmm.

                              1. re: PolarBear
                                d
                                dimsumgirl Apr 3, 2008 07:42 AM

                                Sounds like you Fresno hounds have discovered some more good chow!

                        2. re: glazebrookgirl
                          alanstotle Apr 4, 2008 01:27 PM

                          A couple more additions to our pupusa report.

                          As gbg mentioned, we thoroughly enjoyed the yuca plate, & I think I liked this even better than the pupusa. The yuca itself was (as gbg mentioned) boiled & then grilled so it was like a potato. I thought its texture was like a cross between a potato & a fried plantain, but with none of the sweetness you normally get with a plantain. The pork on top was also quite good. The menu called it "pork" but it had the texture of chicharon. When we got to Ambiente Tropical the menu said the yuca was served with chicharon, so, if that's a traditional way to prepare yuca, then the pork at Laurita's probably was chicharon, too. The pork was not at all fatty, just bite-sized pieces of pork that were nice & chewy (like a jerky that's been cooked a little bit).

                          After my first couple bites of the yuca plate I was not that impressed with it: it didn't taste bad, it was just uninteresting. But the more I ate of it the more it grew on me. That is, perhaps, because I stopped eating each individual part by itself & start mixing the various foods together: a little piece of yuca with some of the tomato sauce with a bit of curtido & finally a piece of pork. All of that together was delicious: the yuca was soft but with a crunchy shell, the curtido was very crispy with a sour bite to it, the tomato sauce was acidic & smooth, and the pork was meaty & chewy. All those contrasting flavors & textures made the dish a joy.

                          At Ambiente Tropical I thoroughly enjoyed my pupusa revueltas--the pork was finely chopped or maybe ground & the beans were also pureed or finely chopped; it had a nice meat & starch flavor. The pupusa loroco was a close 2nd, though: interesting flavor & a nice texture with the flowers.

                          I agree with PolarBear's assessment of the tomato sauce at Laurita's, which was rich but not necessarily spicy. The tomato sauce at Amb. Trop. was a bit spicier (though still not very hot) & served in squirt bottles you get out of the fridge by the front door. I wonder if Salvadoran food (& food from Central America generally) is typically less spicy than Mexican food.

                          The curtido at Laurita's was served in a small bowl with some of the tomato sauce in the same bowl. At Amb. Trop. there is curtido in large plastic food storage containers (with Asian soup spoons!) on every table. I watched as other patrons piled on the curtido on top of their pupusas, along with a healthy dose of tomato sauce, & then ate them with forks & knives, & in some cases with their hands.

                          Wow! I'm thankful for PB's initial posting that got this thread started. PB, I hereby honor you as "Fresno Chowhound of the Month!" So, onward to another set of delicious places to eat!

                          1. re: alanstotle
                            KenWritez Apr 4, 2008 02:41 PM

                            PB, I congratulate you on your "Chowhound of the Month" award! As you are doubtlessly aware, it's customary for the winner of this coveted award to host interested fellow 'hounds to a dinner of the winner's favorite cuisine within a week or two of the award.

                            Where shall we be eating?

                            1. re: KenWritez
                              PolarBear Apr 5, 2008 08:02 AM

                              It is indeed an honor having this CH fame thrust upon me, thank you all, but we need to keep in mind the recon efforts of gbg and Alan, and your own astute observations, Ken. With that in mind and recalling gbg's preference for avoiding most meat based dishes, and my strong gravitational pull towards Mexican food as of late, I propose we all meet at Oaxaca on E. Belmont for some heaping platters of chapulines, ummm... crispy tacos, I'll bet they'd even put them on some clayudas for us.

                              1. re: PolarBear
                                glazebrookgirl Apr 5, 2008 11:29 AM

                                PB, I think you mean "hopping tacos", right? (Well, I guess they aren't hopping by the time they are on the taco.) And I have never had clayudas, but would love to try sometime.

                          2. re: glazebrookgirl
                            alanstotle Apr 5, 2008 07:40 PM

                            gbg & I were down in southern Fresno this afternoon (looking for tasty treats at the Mennonite fundraiser at Fresno Pacific Univ.). Since we were in the area, we stopped by Ambiente Tropical for a little dinner-snack on the way home.

                            gbg ordered a #1 combo which included a pupusa, a tamale (chicken, in this case), a fried banana, a side of beans, & a side of crema (Salvadoran style would be my guess). I don't remember the price, but I want to say maybe about $7.

                            The tamale was fabulous--perhaps even a revelation (though I worry about the overuse of that word). We think it may have been layered instead of stuffed. There was a thin layer of masa, with a layer of potato on top, topped with a layer of chicken. We're guessing here based on the way it looked when we unwrapped it from the banana leaf, but layered is the way it appeared. The tamale was so moist & flavorful that no sauce was needed. I haven't had too many Mexican-style tamales I can say that about.

                            The banana (I'm pretty sure it was a banana & not a plantain) was deep-fried, a little crispy on the outside & soft & banana-y on the inside.

                            The beans were full of tiny pieces of pork, & if you like pork-flavored refried beans these are delicious because of their pork-ness.

                            I ordered a pupusa chicharon, but because I said "yes" when she asked if I wanted beans, I think I got something like a pupusa revueltas, which we reported on before.

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