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El Chinaco – Delicious Pupusas in Costa Mesa

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see full review with pics: www.lauhound.com

Pupusas are an El Salvadorean dish that is a thick corn tortilla (think way thicker than a regular tortilla) that is filled with various things like cheese, meats etc that is totally closed (i.e. there is no opening to the interior). They are grilled on a griddle with a little bit of oil. When you drive around Latino areas of LA and Orange County you see places selling these all over the place as I believe they’re pretty popular. Many years ago I first tried them at El Chinaco and I was really surprised at how good they are. I recently stopped by here after Tacos & Tacos on my latest trip to show my GF what a pupusa is because she’s never seen nor heard of them (I’ve never seen one in NY although I’m sure they exist somewhere in NY).

El Chinaco is on 19th Street where most of the good Mexican / Latino food is in Costa Mesa. Unlike most other restaurants in the area, it’s not a complete dive. The interior looks like an upscale fast food type of place; it’s very clean and new looking. The staff is friendly and the service is pretty decent. The clientele is all over the place, but mainly a Latino clientele.

Chicharron Pupusa: this is filled chicharron which is not the fried pork rind you normally think of, but is a paste of ground pork that is very tender and delicious. It’s pretty self explanatory, but the exterior is really good, slightly crispy from being grilled on the griddle and the interior is awesome. You eat it with a type of salsa that is more of a thicker tomato paste than a normal salsa and it is sweeter than normal salsa, but it goes really well with the pupusa. They also give you a cold pickled shredded cabbage on the side that is a really nice complement to the pipping hot pupusa. Be careful as it’s served so hot it melts the plastic forks you get. Also they have free fried chilis with some salt on them you can pick up, they’re really flavorful and good, but be forewarned they are quite spicy. Really good, definitely recommend.

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El Chinaco
560 W 19th St Unit D, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

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  1. I used to go there a long time ago when they were a little stand down the street. They have always had some good food, I'm glad to see it mentioned.

    1. Chinaco is ok. Have you tried Pupeseria San Sivar on Harbor? I think theirs are better in every way.

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      San Sivar Restaurant
      1940 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

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      1. re: Professor Salt

        i haven't been there, but i will def check it out next time i'm at home...i'm not an expert in pupusas, but i've had enough to know that i definitely like them