Sunday, February 13, 2005


the front window at Los Planes
Originally uploaded by ajkinik.

We'd been in search of a good pupuseria ever since our previous favorite (La Carreta on St. Zotique) burned down, tragically, back in 2003. Last Saturday, I spotted Los Planes while making my way west along Bélanger from the St. Hubert shopping district. The bright sign with the long list of "jugos" (juices) caught my eye, and a quick look through the window convinced me that this was a pupuseria (a restaurant specializing in the stuffed patty-like tortillas that are the national specialty of El Salvador) worth revisiting. The next day I took Michelle there and we sat down to sample the goods. We were just looking for an afternoon snack so we ordered a platter that came with two pupusas, a tamale, and a coffee or juice. We ordered one cheese pupusa, one black bean pupusa, and a coffee, and Michelle also asked for a glass of horchata. When we'd placed our order we took a look at the massive jar of "curtido," the pickled cabbage salad typical of Salvadoran cuisine, and decided to give it a try. We both decided it was the best we'd ever had--nicely herbed and spiced, with just the right vinegariness to it. A few minutes later one of our waitresses returned with a couple of hermetically sealed serving utensils for the curtido and the jar of tangy red sauce that sat beside it. A moment or two later she returned with our two pupusas. As soon as they arrived we could tell they were going to be good--they looked lovingly handmade and they had that lightness to them that sets the best pupusas apart. Our hunches were confirmed as soon as we bit in. The cheese pupusas, which were also filled with scallions, were delicate and delicious, while the bean pupusas featured black beans that were absolutely outstanding. The tamale was of a sweeter variety that I'm used to, with a filling made with a mixture resembling creamed corn, but it, too, was fantastic, and the crema it was served with gave it just the sourness it needed to offset its sweetness.

Sunday afternoons are a good time to visit Los Planes. Sunday is traditionally the day that Salvadoran families go out to their favorite pupuseria together on an outing. They pick up a dozen or so, gather outside, and eat their pupusas with beers, juices, or sodas, while socializing with family and friends. When we showed up at Los Planes there were only a few tables taken, but a half an hour later, by 2:30 or so, the restaurant was packed with Salvadoran families and children clamoring for pupusas.

We'd found our new pupuseria. Both of us can't wait to go back and give the rest of the menu a try.

[Los Planes is located at 531 Bélanger E., between St. Denis and St. Hubert. It is very inexpensive.]


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