The familiar jangle of the convenience store bells fills the air as you push through the double doors. It’s a signal that a good meal is on its way. You’re beelining to the back of the store, through the bodega’s aisles, to the wall-bound menu that’s wrapped in ever-blinking lights. This is where good things are happening at the Kwick Save Mart.
Banquet chairs surround tables lined by vinyl tablecloths with leftover bowls of pickled cabbage and squeeze bottles of hot sauce on top — two more signs that you’re about to eat better than most.
Then, pupusas crackle on the flat-top. Two with chicharrones, seasoned pork and rich beans and cheese, please, to begin. They are $2 apiece at Pupuseria Yoselyn. All you'll ever need are a styrofoam plate, a plastic fork and endless pupusas — thick corn tortillas with bubbling cheese and pork (or loraco, an edible flower bud) — stacked like pancakes before you.
Fire the squeeze bottle, filled with a light pinkish-red salsa, into the curtido, a pickled cabbage condiment, and over everything else because life’s challenges disappear after the application of hot sauce. Whether it’s blazing outside or apocalypse frigid, all is right with a plate of these heavy gems.
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Just before noon at the start of the week, the flat-top crackles louder as the cloud-soft dough meets hot steel. The family team running Pupuseria Yoselyn’s tiny kitchen is busy. They shave half a cabbage head over a mandoline slicer and walk steaming bowls of chicken broth, a Monday special, out to customers. It entrances you. I ordered and paid so fast that I had to double check which bills I handed over.
Forking into the pancake stack of pupusas, each radiating with heat, molten cheese flowing from the breaks in the crust, is like tossing back a vial of concentrated comfort potion. The saddest pupusas on Earth are soggy as dishcloths. The best have a blistering crust and the intense summer flavor of corn and cheese. Yoselyn’s family pupusas are the greatest kind. The kitchen’s been firing them out for seven years, a hidden-in-plain-sight gem off of Park Lane and Greenville Avenue.
Behind the Yoselyn’s tables, the refrigerated air roars as the glass doors of the bodega open. Pro tip: Grab a cold Topo Chico before you sit down, and you’ll be right as rain. Despite the noise of the bodega — the video gambling’s success boops and failure bleeps and the hum of the air conditioner — you’re sitting with a soulful, quiet meal in the back of the store.
Pupuseria Yoselyn, 7015 Holly Hill Drive, No. 100A