Primo pupusa in the heart of White Center
"It's just better at the Salvadorean Bakery. " That's what my friend (a pupusa connoisseur) says every time she samples a pupusa made anywhere...
Special to The Seattle Times
1719 S.W. Roxbury St.; 206-762-4064
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
Drinks: No alcohol.
Cards: All major credit cards.
Access: No obstacles.
Itemized bill, meal for two
Caldo de pollo (chicken soup), small $5.95
Extra pupusa $2.00
Salvadorean Platter $11.50
Atole de elote $3.50
"It's just better at the Salvadorean Bakery." That's what my friend (a pupusa connoisseur) says every time she samples a pupusa made anywhere else. While my pupusa exposure is a tad more limited, I'd have to agree.
The national dish of El Salvador consists of round, thick, stuffed cornmeal tortillas with varied fillings like cheese, chicken, pork, refried beans and loroco blossom (a palm flower).
A pupusa is best eaten hot, accompanied by cool curtido (like a spicy, pickled-cabbage slaw) and hot sauce. The coolness, crunch and spice of the curtido amplifies the warm, soft texture of the rich pupusa.
But there's more to love at this White Center bakery, which is also a ministore, as well as a restaurant. The store section reminded me of my youth in Chicago. Bright yellow tins of Cafe Bustelo and my old favorite, obleas con cajeta de leche: thin discs of caramel, sandwiched between rice paper and made with goat milk. They literally melt on the tongue.
Don't neglect other menu offerings: eggs with cheese, red beans, rice and tortillas ($6.95, or $7.95 with chorizo); tamales ($2.25 and $2.50); carne asada (grilled beef with red beans, rice and tortillas ($13.50).
Our chicken soup was fantastic, and the small was filling enough ($5.95). Get the large ($7.50) if you want to get really full.
The bright, airy restaurant section filled up fast at lunchtime, and kids ran right by the sign saying "Please don't let your child run" in both English and Spanish. An archway into the bakery section is graced by a hanging row of dolls with braids. Service was friendly if slow, but once the food arrived, it was well worth the wait.
You can even take some frozen tamales home for a quick midweek dinner, and did I mention those pupusas? They are better here.
Chicken soup: This was perfection — a cold-cure-in-a-bowl. A rich broth was made heftier by chunks of chicken, carrot, zucchini, a bit of potato, rice and mint. I suspect I'll be trying to duplicate this soup at home all winter long.
Extra pupusa: This pupusa was my favorite, stuffed with loroco blossom and a tangy cheese whose flavor was somehow reminiscent of saganaki (that Greek-American invention, flaming cheese), of all things. Gringa that I am, I ate it with my knife and fork. I should have done it properly, in my hands, with the curtido and hot sauce on top, and folded like a taco.
Salvadorean Platter: There's a lot going on in this platter, and that's just why we ordered it. Salty, chewy hunks of fried pork over fried potatolike yucca. Better (to me) than bacon, I want bowls of this chewy stuff to gnaw on when I get a salt craving. A moist tamale satisfied, flavored with shreds of tender pork and tiny bits of carrot, surrounded by the fragrant corn tamale. Refried beans were rich and gooey. The fried plantain with them was of the standard sort. A revuelto pupusa on the platter was top-notch, stuffed with pork, beans and cheese, its requisite curtido served in a bowl on the side.
Atole de elote: A sweet, slightly cinnamony corn drink, served warm with a spoon to scoop up hunks of corn shaved right off the cob. Different and good.
Budín: A very moist, rectangular sweet cake, with raisins and a hint of rum; reminded me of Christmas.
Leigh Haddix: email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.