Simply put, pupusas are Salvadoran comfort food. These handmade masa cakes are usually stuffed with cheese, beans, pork, or some combination of the three.

What are pupusas?

If you like cheese or yummy fried things, you'll probably love pupusas. They are stuffed corn-based cakes made with a simple batter of masa (corn flour), salt, and water, then fried on a hot griddle. Unlike tortillas, they are kept a bit thick to fully envelop a savory filling before being cooked. 

The perfect bite is a good-sized piece of fresh, warm pupusa topped with some salsa roja (a thin tomato sauce) and some crisp curtido, a spicy pickled cabbage slaw. 

Photo by Sarina Petrocelly

Where can I find them?

The great thing about pupusas is that they're EVERYWHERE in the DMV. Thanks to the rich food culture of El Salvador and our increasing base of Salvadoran residents, they have become as commonplace as grilled cheese sandwiches all across the region. Search for pupusas near you, and at least a handful of options will pop up around your town. The Washington Post did a great writeup on the best pupusas in Maryland, along "the pupusa highway." 

In Woodbridge, my favorite place for pupusas is King Pollo on Route 1. That perfect bite pictured above is their pupusa revuelta, filled with cheese, beans, and shredded pork. At just $2.25 each, they're a great side for a larger entree like the carne asada. Lucky for you, they have several locations all over Northern Virginia (Woodbridge, Alexandria, Reston, Chantilly, and Sterling) and one in Silver Spring, MD. 

Courtesy of SeriousEats

If you'd like to try and make them at home, there are several good recipes online. Fine-grain masa flour is readily available at DMV grocery stores. The biggest variable will be your fillings. Try them with just cheese, refried beans, and cheese, or add some leftover shredded meat for pupusas revueltas.

What are some of your favorite places to get pupusas? Do you have a favorite recipe for making them at home? Let us know in the comments below!

Let's keep learning about cultural foods! Here's where to find Hanukkah's traditional "sufganiyot" in the DMV.