Best Pupusas (2001)

El Venado

This Central American hangout has a unique Houston/Salvadoran decor. The booths sport custom-crafted vinyl upholstery in metallic candy-flake turquoise with silver candy-flake trim. A namesake deer head hangs from the wall in the dining room with some straw sombreros and other kitschy Central American bric-a-brac. Kind of a tropical hunting lodge motif with art car upholstery accents. But the wacky little joint has got some great pupusas. These stuffed homemade tortillas are a Salvadoran favorite; they're grilled to order and served with a sort of cabbage-and-pepper slaw. Try the cheese-and-loroco for $1.60. Loroco is a Salvadoran green that grows wild and tastes like chocolate spinach. The cheese seems to be mozzarella; long, gooey strings of it follow every bite. To make it a real meal, get an order of fried plantains on the side. They come with refried beans and sour cream for dipping.

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