Other Trashy Food: Pupusas

La Carreta
“My country has three main exports: street gangs, cheap labour, and pupusas,” explained my Salvadoran friend. “I used to think pupusas were the only good export until I went back to El Salvador for a year and gained 30 pounds.”

La Carreta

La Carreta
To be fair, pupusas are probably healthier than poutine as a national staple, but they are still a trashy fatty high-carb food. Think fried cornmeal cakes stuffed with beans, deep-fried pig skin, and cheese. They are a close cousin to the Venezuelan Arepa or the Mexican Gordita.

La Carreta
However, what makes pupusas different (and better) is the curtido: a mild lemony-sweet sauerkraut made of carrots, cabbage and onions. Curtido is smothered on top of the pupusa, which is then covered in salsa. The result is a heavenly blend of crunchy, sweet, salty, spicy and melty cheese goodness.

La Carreta
Thankfully, pupusas have been available in Quebec since the mass migration of Salvadorans in the 1980s. Montreal has more pupuserias opening up every year, particularly in Little Italy, Villeray, and Saint Michel. I’ve tried several, and the standouts are El Chalateco (which is often closed) and La Carreta (pictured). Both are located near Beaubien metro. Quebec City has a few places that serve pupusas but, as with most ethnic food in the provincial capital, standards are lower and prices are higher than in Montreal. I have tried them all and would not recommend any of them.

La Carreta
La Carreta

Pupusas are wonderfully cheap. They usually cost around $2-$3 each, and that includes unlimited salsa and curtido. Although they look small, two are generally enough for a meal (three if you’re famished).

This is a bargain compared to other latino corn-based concoctions. Montreal’s decent taquerias charge the same price for a taco, but you’ll be done in about two bites (though the taste of a decent taco al pastor is admittedly more refined). Areperas in town charge at least twice as much for a similar product, which makes me wonder how they can stay in business.

La Carreta. 350, rue Saint-Zotique E., corner Drolet.

El Chalateco. 520 Rue Beaubien E., in front of Beaubien metro.



Filed under Montreal, Other Trashy Food

10 responses to “Other Trashy Food: Pupusas

  1. Have you tried Pupuseria Los Planes on Bélanger?

  2. Mat

    I’ve been going to Las Palmas (Jarry, a few streets east of Jarry station) for a few years now, but I’ll give La Carreta a try later…

  3. Vero

    Do you know what the yellow hot sauce is made with? (besides crack of course) It’s the best thing i have ever had, I could drink buckets of it!

    • I’ve only ever had the red salsa. Seems like I’m missing out.

      • Vero

        OMG! You have to ask for it, it’s not too spicy but the best thing in the world! Go back there just to try that hot sauce. I’ve tried a bunch of other pupusa places but i keep on going back there just for the hot sauce.

  4. I have been going to get my fix for pupusas here: http://www.midnightpoutine.ca/food/2008/01/dinner_supermarche_andes_gloria/ (not my blog) I’m trying yours tonight and I am so excited!

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