Pupusas are the unsung heroes of Latin cuisine. Their crisped exteriors may not entice like a taco filled with pork, pineapple, and cilantro, but this humble exterior belies a rich and meaty filling that is nothing short of magical. Corn masa is shaped into a pocket, filled with meats, cheese, and other hopefully fresh ingredients, then fried to crispy perfection on a flat-top grill.
Most commonly you'll find Salvadoran chicharron inside pupusas, which looks nothing like the hard-fried pork cracklings you're used to. In El Salvador, chicharron is pork that has been slow-braised, fried in its own fat, then mixed with traditional spices, onions, and tomatoes. Salvadoran cheese, which is mild but slightly tangy, is also a common fixture. A spicy, fermented cabbage slaw, similar to Korean kimchi, is typically served alongside pupusas, and adds nice crunch and a little tang.
Unlike taquerias, you won't find a pupuseria on every corner in most Dallas neighborhoods. But anyone who is a fan of great street tacos and tamales should head out to one (or all) of these pupuserias in a hurry.
1. Taqueria la Pasadita Y Pupuseria (above) 205 N. Carroll Ave Most of the pupuserias in Dallas are also taquerias, so you're really getting the best of both worlds when you go to places like Taqueria la Pasadita. Order a few tacos, but don't sleep on these pupusas. Watching the staff here grill them with precision is fascinating enough, but don't fawn for long. This greasy goodness has a pretty short shelf life.
2. Gloria's (multiple locations) Gloria's is probably the most upscale place in Dallas to find pupusas, but that doesn't meant that they aren't worth exploring. You won't find a variety of fillings here, only pork and cheese, but the tortillas are handmade and almost as good as the more authentic pupuserias in Hispanic neighborhoods.
3. Pupuseria Los Gemelos 116 S. Carroll Ave
If you're looking for a really quick option for pupusas, try Pupuseria Los Gemelos on Carroll in East Dallas. It's sort of the McDonald's version of pupusas, and you can load up on the cheap. The cooks stuff and grill the pupusas to order, ensuring that they come out to your table at the appropriate (read: mouth-scorching) temperature. The cabbage and carrot slaw was particularly spicy, but there is plenty of rich and melty cheese to keep your mouth from really igniting.
4. Tienda La Campina Salvadorena 1408 W. Davis St.
This secret gem was suggested by a City of Ate commenter as the best Salvadoran restaurant in Dallas, so I had to drive down to Oak Cliff and see what the fuss was about. Situated inside a small market full of Salvadoran sweets and snacks is a small and unassuming pupusa counter where there is no full menu on display. A large seating area held plenty of hungry patrons for lunch, especially since the World Cup was on the TVs. An order of two pupusas and a Topo came to only $4.75, meaning that pupusas may even be a more perfect cheap lunch than tacos.
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5. Rosi's Pupuseria 1910 S.1st St., Garland Of all the pupuserias on this list, Rosi's in Garland is likely the best regarded. Alongside traditional Salvadoran dishes like whole fried tilapia and yucca fritas, you'll find some of the best pupusas in the metroplex. Gringos will definitely enjoy a chicharron (roast pork) and cheese pupusa, or the even more mild fajita steak and cheese option. If you're feeling more adventurous, order the plato tipico, which comes with a pupusa, a Salvadoran tamale, and fried cassava and plantains.
6. Santa Rosa Restaurant 3720 Walnut Hill Ln #109 Dallas doesn't have a lot of great sit-down options for pupusas, but Santa Rosa Restaurant is the key exception. The pupusas platter, served with plantains, black beans, and rice, is huge, and the flavors come together to create what could possibly be a perfect meal for only $10. The salsa here is deceptively spicy, but balances well with a big pile of that cabbage slaw.