Taqueria La Fogata on Hillcroft, just past Bissonnet, offers Mexican and Salvadoraan favorites in the heart of southwest Houston. This was my first time trying a pupusa (lame, I know), El Salvador’s most popular and well-known dish. After my first bite, I knew I’d made a mistake only ordering one. 

My bean-and-cheese pupusa came with a complimentary container full of curtido, Salvadoran cabbage salad. Much like sauerkraut or kimchi, this peppery cabbage salad added a refreshing kick to every cheesy mouthful.  The thinly sliced cabbage, carrots, and onions were tossed in vinegar and oregano with a little chopped chile. I ordered a second before I even finished my first.

Pupusas look a lot like Mexican gorditas, but they're different. To make a gordita, you fry a moist disc of masa until it forms a air pocket in the middle, then you cut across one end and stuff your fillings inside. A pupusa is a masa ball that's hollowed out with a thumb and filled with ingredients ranging from beans and cheese to carnes revueltas (mixed meat), then squashed into dumpling shape, sealed, and flattened with the palm of a hand or a rolling pin. The pupusa technique definitely takes some practice. 

La Fogata
7826 Hillcroft
713-773-2112

We also sampled pasteles de carne, a crescent-shaped corn-dough "empanada" stuffed full of ground beef and vegetables, fried and served piping hot. These wonderfully filling and savory pastries, common to Central American and Cuban cuisine, also come with the cabbage slaw.

I dunked every bite of my pupusas in a spicy salsa verde that came in a squeeze bottle. I would’ve drank this stuff through a straw if no one was looking. If you’re a fan of tart, flavorful green salsas, give this one a shot.

 

 

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