Pupusas fall into the same category for me as pizza and fried chicken: Even when they're bad, they're still pretty good. That said, no matter their quality, they are best eaten in bulk. Pupusa Buffet, with two Gulfton locations, has that concept more than covered.
The small, colorful restaurant is not a typical buffet that allows diners to claw at the offerings willy-nilly. Perhaps realizing that the excitement of all-you-can eat pupusas for $7.86 would be simply too great for guests to contain themselves, diners instead wait in line and ask a young girl in a plastic apron to unwrap their choices from foil one-by-one. When I visited today, there were six varieties on the buffet, though two of them were relative bummers; plain cheese and cheese-and-bean.
I didn't mind too much because I was already on a high from having discovered my new favorite type of agua fresca. I've long been a believer that cashew juice is the best part of a churrascaria meal—you know, other than the cheese bread and meat and dessert—but I'd never had it in any other form. And this was my favorite juice in the light, watery form of an agua. Pretty cool.
It was just right for wetting my whistle along with the trio of pupusas I tried. I was particularly curious about the first option, which paired cheese and loroco, an edible flower bud. They tasted a bit like nopales, which is to say bland and vegetal and slightly slimy.
I much preferred the combination of chewy cheese and stringy ayote (squash) within the golden brown corn jacket. The revueltas con frijoles, with chicharrones, cheese and beans was a close second, even if the pork was all but undetectable.
And frankly, anything would taste good bathed in the spicy tomato-based salsa on top, especially paired with the well-cured curtido. The slaw had a kick of its own thanks to the presence of what appeared to be whole Thai bird chiles.
I was a little embarrassed that I could only manage a short stack, but fewer pupusas at once just means more varieties to try in the future.