The interior of this Salvadoran landmark, a former residence on the fringes of East Hollywood, is as frumpy as Grandma’s house. The cooking, fortunately, is just as homey. Pupusas—the stuffed corn patties that are the national comfort food of El Salvador—are heavy here, big sloppy disks of oozing cheese and fried maize dough. For more oomph, order them spiked with loroco, the caper-ish Central American flower bud. Cash only.
Best Pupusa, December 2007
The pupusa, El Salvador’s national comfort food, might be the most undervalued dish in town. A disc-brake-size patty of corn masa—which is kneaded by hand, cooked to order, and served with a tub of piquant cabbage slaw—can be had for $2 or less at hundreds of pupuserías across Los Angeles. Most are good, a few are great, none are as formidable as those at Atlacatl, the carpeted, green-tablecloth bastion of the Salvadoran American middle class. The benchmark is the pupusa with loroco, an aromatic flower which hints of artichoke and asparagus. Streaked with griddle marks, oozing salty tendrils of cheese, the Atlacatl version is dense and chewy—substantial enough that to-go orders are wrapped in foil, bagged in paper, then slipped into a plastic sleeve.