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$7 at El Cuscatleco

Where: El Cuscatleco, 6041 Bissonnet, 713-666-2690

What $7 gets you: A tall stack of pupusas.

Driving through southwest Houston earlier today, we started wondering something about all the random little restaurants that seem to appear at every intersection. How do you choose a place where a) you know the food will be good and cheap, and b) you know you won't be eating dog food?

There's no easy way, we decided, besides the trial-and-error method, so we were excited to stop at the redlight at Bissonnet and Rampart streets and see two restaurants that looked promising in the same strip mall. If the first was no good, we thought, we'd simply walk 15 feet and try something else.

Our first selection was El Cuscatleco. After being handed a menu from the woman behind the counter, we thought we already might have to head two doors down to Taqueria El Alteno No. 2, because of the selections in our $7 price range, we had only heard of about three.

But after scanning the menu, we quickly ordered a pupusa revuelta con frijoles ($1.45) and a pupusa revuelta con loroco ($1.65) and sat in a booth, a little unsure of what we had just ordered.

We're not sure how to describe the taste of the pupusas, but it starts out almost bland, followed by a flavorful kick of gooey cheese and some kind of meat. With a little dash of sauce, these pupusas were excellent.

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Our total bill came to $3.46, so we could've sat there and eaten pupusas all day. But after barely being able to finish two, we decided it was time to move on and save the Taqueria El Alteno for another day.

We definitely plan on coming back to El Cuscatleco too, to try something off the lengthy breakfast menu, like the desayuno ranchero ($4.75), which we almost ordered before the pupusas. Plus, there are Christmas lights, wood-paneled walls, music pumping from a jukebox, and posters of different Latin countries, circa 1973, hanging on the walls, so we consider this a fun spot.

Recommended: Yes, and be sure to hit up the jukebox for a selection from Los Tigres Del Norte.


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