The Mexican-American style cantina has been around for decades in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t until the 90s that we saw a more refined version combining both traditional Mexican food as well as pocho-style. Even more recently, a new phenomenon arose: Central-American restaurateurs started to adopt the trend. Puchica Guatemalan Bar and Grill—a hybrid cozy family restaurant and Latin-American sports bar—is serving typical dishes like pepian (pumpkin seed based stew) alongside snacks like shucos, a fully-loaded Guatemalan take on the hot dog.
A mixed crowd comes in for a massive sampler of antojitos stacked with garnachas (ground meat served on tortillas), enchiladas (a tostada with beets and ground meat), chuchitos (tamales), and fried plantains, served on a large plate crowded with unnecessary garnishes. What the afternoon crowd is really here for is that glorious multi-colored hot dog.
Shucos are a star attraction near the Liceo Guatemala campus where vendors compete with one another along Avenida La Reforma. They usually come in a special toasted bun filled with mayo, ketchup, mustard, guacamole, split hot dogs, sauerkraut, and even sliced ham or bacon; at Puchica they add onions and peppers on the hefty bun. Puchica also serves mixtas, which are the ingredients of a shuco on a tortilla. Yup, that’s right—it’s a hot dog taco. So pass the Famosa cervesa, because I’ll drink to that!