You’ve seen signs all over the Valley, but what is a pupuseria? It’s a restaurant that specializes in the pupusa, a traditional dish from El Salvador and Honduras. Some think of it as a sibling of the taco, but a pupusa is its own splendid creation, a piping-hot, pillowy disc of masa dough filled with salty and chewy cheese, plus meat or vegetables of your choice, then topped with a thin tomato sauce (salsa roja) and a lightly fermented cabbage slaw called curtido.
Pupuserias have been popping up all over in recent years, and at $2 or less per, you can get a filling meal for a few bucks. If you haven’t tried them yet—or suddenly have a serious craving—here are four spots to hit.
Oloculita This little restaurant stands up to its popular next-door neighbor, Tacos El Gordo, with the equally addictive pupusas revuelta, filled with refried beans, smoky chicharrón and cheese. But don’t confuse this chicharrón with the crispy pork skin version; in Central America, chicharrón refers to shredded pork fried in fat, then minced into a paste with tomatoes. Another must-try: pupusa queso con loroco, with cheese prepared with a mild flower bud from the loroco plant of Central America. 1756 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-383-6909.
Esmeralda’s Cafe This favorite serves up savory pupusas, tamales and soups (caldos), alongside Mexican fare like tortas and enchiladas. Try the pupusas de camaron (shrimp) or the traditional revuelta with a side of platanos and refried beans. 1000 E. Charleston Blvd. #101, 702-388-1404.
Las Pupusas A popular and friendly shop with six locations around the Valley, Las Pupusas serves great pollo con queso (chicken) and calabaza y queso (zucchini) pupusas. Order a basket of hot, just-fried tortilla chips with salsa as an appetizer, and you’ll have enough food for lunch and dinner. laspupusasrestaurant.com.
Rincon Catracho If you went to UNLV, you should have visited this pupusa haven at Pioneer Plaza. Not only is Rincon one of the best for Honduran- and Salvadoran-style pupusas, it serves an authentic Central American breakfast with scrambled eggs, refried beans, tortillas, avocado and plantains. 4110 S. Maryland Parkway #31, 702-699-9579.