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Street food junkies on the hunt in El Salvador: Pupusas

Street food junkies on the hunt in El Salvador: Pupusas

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

El Salvador does not have a variety of street food, especially dearth are the vegetarian street food options. In fact there is really only one, single type of street food worth eating in El Salvador: The Pupusa. These magical little filled dough pancakes more than make up for the lack of options.

Pupusas are like very thick corn tortillas are stuffed with the below ingredients and flattened down by hand before being heated on the grill.

What’s in the best El Salvadorian street food treat?

• Cheese (vegetarian)

• Refried Beans (vegetarian)

• Cheese and refried beans (vegetarian)

• Chicharrones (pork meat)

• Pollo (Chicken)

• Chicharrones / pollo & cheese / beans

Where can you find pupusas?

Pupusas are on every menu in every restaurant, but it’s best to belly up to a table at a pupuseria, which is a very local restaurant dedicated entirely to serving up steaming hot pupusas. No hemming and hawing over what to eat, no menu to peruse. Instead, just walk in, indicate how many of which type of pupusa you want and enjoy a cool beer while you wait. There is even a special flat grill dedicated to pupusa-making which is for sale in every appliance/home store in El Salvador. We considered shipping costs for one of these more than once, but alas, to what home would we send it?

How to eat a pupusa on the streets of El Salvador.

Once your stack of pupusas has arrived, top them with curtido, a pickled cabbage salad similar to coleslaw bur marinated in vinegar (actually tasty!) and pour on a medium hot red salsa. The ingredients can vary slightly, but are almost always identical. In El Salvador, the default dough is made from corn, but there is also a rice dough version. Stick with corn, we advise, unless you – like us – gorge so often on pupusas that you really need the change up.

Should you ever find yourself hungry on a bus in El Salvador, do not worry, as waves of women with baskets or trays of pupusas will constantly jump aboard and squeeze and shimmy towards you squealing ‘puuuupuuuussaaaaas”.

Not only have the Salvadorians dedicated an entire type of restaurant to these delicious doughy disks, they have also dedicated an entire day to honor them: National Pupusa Day on November 13th. We were lucky enough to be in El Salvador on this holy celebration. However, because we took to downing 3-4 at least once a day, every day we spent in El Salvador was our Pupusa Day.

The best part about pupusas is that they are not only tasty, they are cheap, varying between 25 cents and 50 cents depending on where you get them. The best price meets best quality at about 40 cents per pupusa. Even the biggest eaters need no more than four to fill up, which means lunch or dinner for around $1.60.

Pupusas are best sampled in El Salvador

Throughout Central America you will see street food stands with ladies preparing pupusas, and there is usually at least one pupuseria in any medium-sized city. In Guatemala they were too large, and the cheese was decidedly not delicious. In Honduras they were lackluster; their makers were not dedicated to art of the pupusa. Salvadoran pupusas are definitely the best, with just the right amount of dough combined with a much more delicious cheese, called Loroco, than found in other Central American countries.

Tip: We had our best Pupusas at a professional pupuseria in the small mountain town of Alegria. Next best were the two stands nearest the church on the central square in Suchitoto. The pupuseria next to the café had the best rice pupusas we sampled while in El Salvador.

Read more about these two towns in this article: Go Beyond El Salvador’s Beaches: Suchitoto and Alegria


Sunday 5th of February 2023

Lorocp is actually a type of flower that grows on a vine. They are diced and mixed with the cheese.


Saturday 27th of April 2019

There is so much street food in El Salvador that you missed aside of just pupusas by the way. We offer quite the variety, from yuca frita, pasteles, elote locos, nuegados, atol de elote, enchiladas, atol chuco thats just to name a few theres so much more!!!


Thursday 28th of April 2011

So, randomly chanced about this post when I was on your site and I just tried pupusas for the first time at a Salvadorian restaurant in Asheville, NC of all places. Oh goodness me. So good! They had a squash pupusa that was absolutely ridiculous though my favorite veggie one was the cheese. Love these pictures! You make me want to go to El Salvador.


Saturday 30th of April 2011

Hi Akila! Glad you have now joined the pupusa fan club! Your pupusas sound amazing, and we will have to try them when we head to North Carolina hopefully later this year. We'd love to know what you pay per Pupusa in the US, since these things are SO cheap in El Salvador! Also - what's the name of the place you had them?

Samantha Dermot

Thursday 24th of February 2011

I enjoy eating street foods. There are so many choices and skies the limit. Considering that street foods are much cheaper too. I want to visit el salvador too for me to experience a breathe taking view and to taste wonderful food!

14 things we love about El Salvador | Globetrottergirls

Wednesday 23rd of February 2011

[...] Pupusas – We could eat these lovely little things morning, noon and night. [...]