Pupusas are an all-day love affair for the mouth, and there’s no better place to get the thick, griddled corn cakes than La Pupusa Factory in the heart of Hialeah.
Native to El Salvador, the patties are stuffed with cheese, beans, loroco flower buds, shrimp or meats and eaten for breakfast, lunch or antojitos (“little whims”). Homesick Salvadoreños flock here for a fix along with Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Guatemalans.
Owner Andres Garcia was born in Chalatenango and grew up in the town of Aguilares 20 miles north of the capital, San Salvador. He is of Pipil Indian descent and learned to cook from his mother. During the civil war in the 1980s, Andres joined his brother in Miami, working his way up in a Spanish restaurant to cook Iberian dishes.
The brothers opened a Spanish café, but after hiring a Salvadoran cook decided to specialize in dishes of their homeland. They moved 14 years ago to the current space, where Andres does a bit of everything, including cooking.
Pupusa is from the Pipil word pupusaw, meaning “swollen.” Masa harina dough is rolled into a ball, flattened slightly and an indent is made for the filling. Once it is added, the dough is rolled to encompass the filling and patted into a disc. It’s slapped on a griddle, turned several times until flecked with golden brown, and served with curtido, a cabbage slaw, and thin tomato salsa.
There’s also a crispy pupusa made from rice flour originally from the town of Olocuilta. Tamal de elote are tamales made from ground fresh sweet corn served with crema. Atol de elote is a hot, creamy corn and milk drink with cinnamon served in a gourd bowl as dessert.
The place may be called a factory, but everything here is made by hand.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.