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Aug 9, 2010 11:09 AM

Pupuseria & Cafeteria Centroamericana (Tampa)

This weekend I went with some friends so they could experience pupusas for their first time (a rare meal to have in Florida). We headed to the pupuseria at around 10am. The location might throw you off a bit because its a blue & white building that is easy to miss when you're driving up Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd if you don't pay attention. Once we got inside we found a bunch of booths and sat ourselves. The place has expanded a bit since when I last visited years ago.

They came up right away and gave us our menus and took our drink orders. Friend #1 ordered horchata and friend #2 ordered a coke (they give it you by the bottle). I stuck with a water (unfortunately I'm on a budget at the moment). After a few minutes of explaining how the entrees worked and the basics of pupusas we were ordering. Friend #1 ordered a ham breakfast which includes sour cream, cheese, refried beans, plaintains, tortillas, and two eggs. Friend #2 ordered their steak breakfast #40 ($7.50), which includes everything Friend #1 had minus the ham. In addition both of them ordered a pupusa with cheese and refried beans mixed.

I stuck with pupusas ($2.00 each) and ordered one of just cheese and one of cheese and refried beans mixed with a side of refried beans ($1.75) and sour cream ($1.00). When the orders came out man did they smell good! They devoured their breakfast and when the pupusas came out they loved the taste of it and wished they had just had that all along instead of ordering a regular breakfast before (but I wanted them to play it safe just in case they didn't like pupusas).

My pupusas were excellent, I couldn't tell the difference between the pupusas from here and those in California. They were that good. The cheese was excellent and the refried beans weren't your typical canned refried beans you have in Tampa but had a fresh homemade taste.Everybody left stuffed and happy. Mission successful.

Oh and FYI they are closed on Thursdays. Otherwise they are open from 9am to 8pm regularly.

Pupuseria & Cafeteria
2504 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607

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  1. Thanks for the post. I have driven by that place many times and wondered about it. I haven't had pupusas since I lived in CO. I loved them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Old E.

      I really like this Pupuseria. It never occurred to me to go for breakfast. Now, I know better.

      1. re: CFishman

        They have a breakfast menu as well CFishma its located here

        The huevos rancheros were catching my eye but I didn't get to try them. Maybe next time.

      2. re: Old E.

        Old E.: Ah man I hope you get to check it out then. It had been a few years since I had pupusas until I recently went back to California in March. I found myself wanting some again after that visit and finally made it out to this place. Hope you like it :)

      3. Thank you for furthering my food education and selecting my lunch spot for manana! I will be nawing on some pupu asap. Anyone care to join?

        1 Reply
        1. re: askdrtodd

          askdrtodd: I hope you like it! I'd love to go, but have to save money during the week so I can hopefully try a new place this weekend and keep my Carlos Eats food writing blog up.

        2. Thanks so much for the rec! I love pupusas, but have not had any Salvadoran food since moving to TB. I will definitely check it out.

          13 Replies
          1. re: laurie

            Laurie: It's hard to find actually in TB so I hope it won't disappoint :]

            1. re: blitzchamp

              I could probably go tomorrow, but I'm out today. Now I'm dying to go.

              1. re: Old E.

                actually I think Bill and I are going for lunch friday if you can make it?

                1. re: askdrtodd

                  Still on...

                  I gotta say tho--- I've been there once before, about a year ago, and I'm looking forward to my own second opinion, Todd's, and the impressions of whoever else comes along...

                  I may not have ordered right the first time...
                  I'm gonna ask the waitress to set me up with their most delicious and most popular items...

                  What I got last time was sparse, plain, basic, unimaginative, & boring to the point of jaw-dropping amazement...

                  I watched the few ethnic families eating there at the time like they were crazy...
                  Antojitos on Columbus was a billion times better I thought...
                  One place didn't care, it seemed----- and I tasted Abuela's love in the other...

                  Still----- seriously----- I'm looking forward to trying it again on Friday---- with complete enthusiasm...
                  Any time I can visit with bloodbrothers / bloodsisters & fill my belly with inexpensive ethnic food, I'm happy...

                  I just wanted to document my initial impression first, for some reason...

                  1. re: Mild Bill

                    I was going to add that they make the pupusas by hand, so the wait can be a bit long. Since you have been there, Bill, you probably know that firsthand. I think the pupusas are great (make sure to put the cabbage on top), but would they win out against buche huaraches, probably not. What do you order at Antojitos, Bill? I am stuck on the bandeja paisa and the mojarra frita (and, of course, antojitos).

                    1. re: CFishman

                      Please, Lord, let them have hot sauce :)

                      1. re: askdrtodd

                        askdrtodd: They had hot sauce when we visited =)

                      2. re: CFishman

                        I've been to Antojitos three times... First time, I ordered the Lengua... It was creole saucy, stewed it seemed with peppers, onions, tomatoes, & potatoes...
                        A generous portion-- and I was surprised that it was sliced lengthwise, so it really looked like something... It was so soft, and with the other juicy components on the plate, and the potatoes, it blew me away....
                        Like I said before, it felt like someone's grandmother made it for me...

                        I also ordered a baseball size corn fritter ball that was a gift from heaven...
                        I love corn, and corn fritters...
                        This was the fritter mothership--- crusty exterior, puffy, moist, corny, & mildly sweet on the inside...

                        When I went in the second time I went in looking for the lengua again, but it wasn't available, so they recommended a carne con papa type stew and it was just like the lengua only beef beef... Loved it...

                        The third time it was bitter cold outside and I ordered a chicken soup, (knowing how Colombians do soup) and a side of rice...
                        Wow! I love good chicken & rice soup...
                        Also ordered two beef empanadas and I adored the taste and texture of the cornmeal masa they use instead of the standard pastry shells or discs...
                        The filling had a mild sweetness that was a treat...

                        1. re: Mild Bill

                          That was fun to read. It felt like I was almost there with you. The lengua sounds great. I had the liver once there and wasn't crazy about it, but I think it was me more than the liver. From the description of what you enjoyed at Antojitos, I do think you will like the stews (and everything else) at Mi Pueblo. It also has that home-cooked taste and look.

                          3090 S Jog Rd, Greenacres, FL 33467

                    2. re: askdrtodd

                      What time are y'all headed over there? I may be able to make it.

                      1. re: Old E.

                        Todd usually likes to target 11:30--- on the earlier side of lunch to beat the crowds, and that's OK for me....

                        Mildbill58 AT gmail DOT com

                        if you or anybody needs a cell phone number to help identify who the Chowhounders is in case there are multiple gringos in there at the same time... ;-)

                        1. re: Mild Bill

                          11:30 is the goal, looking forward to it.

                          Side note- ate at Stone Soup today for lunch, not bad but quite underwhelmed. Chili - good & meaty but no where near spicy enough (and no options to increase the heat), same with the Thai soup, tasty but somewhat thin, came out with a 3/4" (no joke) layer of oil on top of it (which didn't really add much to it), and although described to me as too spicy for some people (apparently people have sent it back) I couldn't detect any spice at all. Both my buddy and I had a panini too, which again were good but not worth ordering again, I've had better paninis at whole foods. They were served on cuban bread - which was quite tasty cuban bread, but really made me miss the typical grill pressed panini bread/shape/taste. I would eat there again if in the neighborhood, but wasn't super impressed this time. Owner was a super nice guy though, and the service was good.

                          1. re: askdrtodd

                            10-4. I may shoot y'all an email in the morning.

              2. Ate there with Bill and Old E today, was a good time. We had:

                (3) Pupusa Loca's (the big'uns that have all the available ingredients stuffed in them) $3.50/ea
                (1) Enchilada (pretty big too) looking thing with eggs and steak in it. I forget how much, maybe $6.75?
                (2) Tamal's, one corn, one chicken, with a side of the refried beans, a side of the sour cream, and a drink (it was a lunch special for $5.99)

                The Tamals came out first, the corn one was delicious, reminded me of cornbread casserole, probably the star of the lunch. The Chicken one was just OK, somewhat bland, but tamals usually are. The refried beans were excellent, great consistency and just a hint of peppery smokiness that I really enjoyed. The sour cream was also fun, a bit milder than typical sour cream, and much thicker, almost like mayo.

                Then we got the Enchiladito thingamabob (Bill, what the hell was that thing called?), which was a somewhat thin flour tortilla with (not very tender) steak, fried eggs, refried beans, and something else in there. Bill called it "stoner food", which I thought was both funny and probably accurate. good but not worth ordering again.

                Finally we got our Pupusas locas, and we excitedly dug in (oops, they were still pretty hot). They came with a mildly pickled cabbage, like a cole slaw that used vinegar instead of mayo? Along the lines of something vietnamese but not as pungent, more mild. Also it was served with a tomato sauce that (in my humblest of opinions) was thin and didn't add much to the dish. The Pupusas needed a bit of salt, and for a pancake sandwich with everything but the kitchen sink in it, it wasn't the most flavorful thing ever. Not bad by any means, but it was pretty mushy (lacked textural contrast) and was void of any dynamic flavors.

                I'd go back to try the standard pupusas (perhaps ordering that big abortion of a pupusa was where I steered awry) but other than the amazing value of the meal, not much is compelling me to return...

                3 Replies
                1. re: askdrtodd

                  i'm still full... but I had a great time.

                  I think I liked the chicken tamale better than Todd and Bill, but I too enjoyed the sweet corn.

                  I think that crazy thing we had second may have been my favorite.

                  Definitely need to try the individual pupusas. It was good, but a little too much going on with the Loca...

                  I think I would really like to go back for breakfast.

                  1. re: askdrtodd

                    Enchiladito thingamabob = Baleada....


                    1. re: askdrtodd

                      Yeah def. try the standard pupusas. My favorite is refried beans mixed with cheese. The pickled cabbage is called curtido and its standard to eat that with pupusas.

                      My pupusas were pretty hot when they came out too, probably due to the wait since they are handmade in the kitchen.