Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. – 20119 Miles Driven.  

During my stay in Washington, D.C. I never found myself intoxicated enough to indulge in a calorie-laden D.C. jumbo slice, and I’d eaten more than enough hot dogs to quash my desire to try a D.C. half-smoke.  What I hadn’t tried was a pupusa, and owing to D.C.’s large Salvadorian population I found myself becoming slightly addicted to them.

Pupusas are a simple sounding creation; a thick corn masa tortilla stuffed with a variety of fillings that typically include, queso, refried beans, and a vine flower bud called loroco.  They’re traditionally served with a mix of pickled cabbage, onions and carrots, topped with a fresh tomato sauce, and adding a splash of El Yucateco hot sauce is a must.  Pupusas may sound simple but making them definitely isn’t, I’ve tried.  For the sake of $2 to $3 leave it to the experts, and enjoy soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the interesting choices of background music at some of D.C.’s many Salvadorian restaurants.

El Rinconcito Café

The perfect plate of pupusas at El Rinconcito Café

Easily the most polished of the Salvadorian restaurants I dined at, with a great atmosphere that appeals to both Latinos and tourists alike.  Owing to popular demand, owner Maurizio bowed to pressure and upgraded his paper plates to china ones.  The recipes he uses are a combination of his mothers and the long-serving women who cook there.

The carne guisada or beef stew that I sampled was delicious, as of course were the pupusas and pickled cabbage.  Maurizio treated me to a selection of traditional Latin American drinks including, agua de tamrindo, agua de flor de Jamaica.  I’m not even going to attempt to describe them.

Background music – Traditional Mexican.  According to one helpful diner El Salvador doesn’t have any decent musicians.  You learn something new every day.

Ercilia’s Restaurant

This no-frills, paper-plate, plastic-cutlery kind of joint gets packed.  I’m pretty sure none of the staff speak English.  Miss when they call your order and you won’t get fed, so know how to count in Spanish.  I opted for pupusas de loroco y queso.  They were cheesy, doughy and delicious, and the little plate of pickled cabbage acts as the perfect accompaniment.

Background music – A bizarre Hispanic version of Bruno Mars.

Gloria’s Restaurant

When pink works best but tamales don’t

Gloria wasn’t working when I visited her very homely feeling and very pink restaurant.

All pupusas are a flat $2.  Normally I’d order two but I thought I’d mix it up a bit and replaced a pupusa with a $2 chicken tamale, it was a regrettable decision.  The tamale was watery and bland, though I did find out later they’re not homemade.  The homemade pupusa however, was excellent.  Traditionally pupusas are cooked by frying in a dry pan, but owing to how deliciously crispy they were on the outside, I suspect Gloria’s is a fine example when frying in oil is better.

Background music – No music, instead the audio of very dramatic sounding Hispanic TV show.

El Rinconcito Café is located at; 1129 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.  Telephone; +1 (202) 789-4110.

Ercilia’s Restaurant is located at; 3070 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010.  Telephone; +1 (202) 387-0909. 

Gloria’s Restaurant is located at; 3411 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010.  Telephone; +1 (202) 884-0105.

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