Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Panchitas #2 Restaurant Review


Pupusas are El Salvador's most popular snack. A real comfort food, it's hard not to fall in love with them at first bite. And like Heidi at 101 Cookbooks says, it's hard to just say the word "pupusa" without smiling.

Like a quesadilla or an arepa, a pupusa is a thick corn pancake made of corn flour or masa. Inside is meat or cheese or both. They are sometimes stuffed with more exotic fillings like loroco buds and blossoms. But even the plain cheese ones are really good. Chewy and slightly crisp on the outside, and tender and fluffy on the inside, they come oozing with mild melty cheese. So good! As long as you're saying pupusa, say curtido as well. Curtido is the pickled cabbage and carrot slaw that is required to be served on top of a pupusa.

In San Francisco there are three Panchita restaurants which serve pupusas. Lee and I finally got to try out Panchitas #2 this week, which is not as upscale as Panchitas #3 from what I've been told. But the service is friendly and the pupusas and the fried plantains with crema and a dab of refried beans will fill your tummy and your soul. While I suppose you can make this at home, pupusas at Panchitas #2 only cost $1.50 each, minimum order is two and a huge plate of fried plantains and crema is about $4.50. With prices like that, eating out is hard to beat.

Panchitas #2
3091 16th St. @ Guerrero
San Francisco
415.431.4232
Sun - Thurs 9 am - 11 pm
Fri & Sat 9 am - 3 am

Panchitas #3
3115 22nd Street
415.821.6660
(note: slightly more upscale and expensive than the other branches)

Panchitas (#1)
3316 17th @ Mission
415.431.8852