One of our favorite carb & filling combos is the Salvadorean pupusa, which just may be one of the ultimate comfort foods. Katerina’s Pupuseria (1409 Brookpark Rd., Cleveland, OH) is certainly located off the beaten path, and it seems to do double duty as a banquet hall and a bar. There is even a pool table, which was empty when we got there at 1 PM, probably a little before typical party time. The inside is very cute, filled with little seating coves, decorative blue and yellow tiles and Salvadorean trinkets.
Of course we had to order the pupusas (which were the bulk of the menu), our favorite little masa pockets filled with tasty fillings (including chicken, cheese, garlic, pork and zucchini). We each tried different pupusa varieties, L with her favorite loroco flowers and M with pork. The pupusas were only 2 dollars each and we found 2 apiece to be more than filling. The pupusas were tender and tasty and the fillings were generous. And of course who could forget the vinegary curtido slaw, necessary to give the pupusas a little kick.
This was also our first time trying Salvadorean horchata, which is different than the Mexican version, and is made from morro seeds, instead of rice. It reminded us a bit more of the nut-based Spanish horchata instead of the Mexican rice-based version. The pupusas and horchata were the perfect cheap lunch and had us remembering some of our favorite classic meals in Chicago. definitely make a stop at Katerina’s for pupusas, and maybe even a game of pool.
824 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33130
When we are in Miami, we feel spoiled for choice at all the Latin American options we have. We were especially happy to try some restaurants that make food from countries that aren’t really available in Chicago. One among these is Honduras. When we were searching for Honduran options in Miami, Paseo Catracho bubbled up as a favorite (the “Catracho” in the name is a nickname for people from Honduras). One of our good friends who lives in Miami who is of Honduran heritage said it was her favorite place to get Honduran food in the city. When we walked in, we were impressed by the bustling atmosphere, and the cute touches like straw hats hanging from the ceiling as lamps.
Hats as decor!
As we perused through the menu of this comfortable mom and pop place, we noticed that everything was a little cheese and carb heavy, just the way we like it! The specialty of the house was pupusas – which we know as El Salvadorean food – however, Honduras puts its own little spin on this as well. Of course we had to have the pupusas! (3 for $6.99). The pupusas came with a side of chismol (a cabbage slaw), and were filled with quesillo cheese. These were pretty similar to the Salvadoran pupusas. We also got a stuffed plaintain / maduro relleno: absolutely filled with beans, cheese, and cream. This was a nice combination of salty and sweet. To finish we got a hot dip similar to a queso called anafres. At its most basic, anafres is a refried black bean and cheese fondue. The food at Paseo Catracho is definitely delicious, but by the end of the meal you could roll us home. If that weren’t enough they even have huge family platters with 10+ pupusas and toppings for your next family outing.
The elaborate anafres presentation.
The service was decent, if a little distracted, but we still had a pleasant time. We wished this place was closer so we could try some of the other unique Honduran options, many of which we had never heard of before. People also particularly rave about the baleadas, a tortilla filled with refried beans. Paseo Catracho is definitely not a place for those on a diet… but that’s not why you go there! However, it is a great place for good food at a reasonable price. Definitely a family kind of place.
Our favorite: Pupusas
I am crazy about pupusas – it’s no secret! What could be better than a pocket of carbs filled with cheese and other fillings? Nothing, I tell you. When we heard that the pupusas were on point at Brianna’s Restaurant (4911 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625) we knew we had to visit! Brianna’s advertises itself as having Salvadoran and a Guatemalan cuisine, with a small selection of Mexican dishes.
I got two pupusas, one with the emblematic Salvadorean loroco flower and one with Guatemalan chipilin ($2.25 each). I could hear the “pat-pat” of pupusas being made fresh and griddled after I placed my order, which is always a sign that you are going to get something good! As predicted, the pupusas came out hot and fresh with melty cheese fillings and a vinegary slaw. The loroco flowers were tasty and subtle and the chipilin leaves, which I had never tried, before tasted like a herby spinach. If Now 2 ‘small” pupusas was really enough to make me feel super full, but if you are well and truly ready to stuff yourself consider a “pupusa loca” a large pupusa with five ingredients. Fortunately, the vinegary slaw helps all those carbs go down.
M went the more substantial route with a main dish. He was torn between several dishes. He ended up going with the hilachas, shredded beef with potatoes simmered in Guatemalan creole sauce, served with a side of rice ($10.95). The runner up was another Guatemalan dish – Pulique – beef rib stew with potatoes and squash ($10.95). The hilacha, the Guatemalan take on ropa vieja, was tasty with a pungent tomato sauce, more akin to Sunday gravy than a salsa.
As a side, M also sampled his first atole, a warm, sweet corn drink. I went with the cooler passion fruit juice. If we were less full we would have sampled the Guatemalan bread pudding, which sounded delicious. The restaurant itself was very simple, but the service was friendly and pleasant. But most importantly, everything we had heard about the pupusas was true. Brianna’s makes a mean pupusa, and the price is right (less than $2.50) for each pupusa, making one of the tastiest and cheapest meals around.
Pupuseria y Restaurante Cuscatleco
Formerly 7109 N. Clark, now 3125 W Lawrence Ave.
I think we found our new favorite lunch fix. The pupusa. Pupusas are traditional stuffed cornmeal (masa) patties from El Salvador, and are the stock in trade at the Pupuseria y Restaurante Cuscatleco on North Clark. The menu itself is divided between Salvadoran and Mexican dishes. On the Mexican side there are favorites like burritos, tortas and tostadas ($2.50 – 6). The Salvadoran side boasts more unusual dishes like Tamal de Gallina (Hen Tamales, $2) and Yuca con Chicharrón ($7.25).
The king of the Salvadoran dishes however, is the pupusa, and Cuscatleco has several varieties including Chicharrón (pork rind), queso fresco cheese and beans. One of the more unusual choices is the loroco, which is an aromatic green flower, used often in Salvadoran cuisine. At 2 dollars a piece you can try a few – we went with the cheese and loroco. However, don’t think these are tiny little tortillas, three pupusas more than filled two hungry eaters.
Upon ordering, the cooks prepare your pupusas to order and grill them right there on the plancha. The space itself is pretty spartan, with some booths and high tables. The kitchen is right out front, so we could see (and smell) our pupusas in production. As we waited for our order, we took in the daytime delights of “Escándalo TV” (Showbiz TV), which was blaring from a TV in the corner.
In mere minutes our order was ready. The pupusas came with 2 thin salsas – a mild red and a spicy green and a bowl of traditional vinegary slaw, called curtido, which is typically eaten on top of the pupusa. The pupusas themselves were chewy and golden brown and brimming with queso fresco and the bright green herby loroco. We devored our lunch and were completely satiated. We just might become regulars here. I can’t think of a better lunch than watching some bad Daytime TV with a friend and some tasty, tasty masa.