The pupusa is a thick griddle cake made of corn flour that can be filled with cheese, beans, and meat and gets paired with curtido, a fermented cabbage slaw. Unsurprisingly, pupusas can often be found at Pupuserias, as well as Salvadoran restaurants and Central American restaurants. Not only is it El Salvador’s most famous dish, but it is actually also their national dish. Whether you’re already a huge fan of this Salvadoran item or you want to try it for the first time, we’ve rounded up some spots in Essex County + the North Jersey area for you to get a high-quality pupusa. Read on to discover where you can find some of the best pupusas in Montclair + Beyond.
What is the Pupusa?
In addition to being the national dish of El Salvador, the pupusa is also common in Honduras and other Central American countries. Similar to an arepa, a traditional pupusa is made from masa flour — which originates from corn, though some versions can also be made with rice flour. The typical fillings of a pupusa can include cheese, beans, chicken, vegetables, and pork. The pupusa is paired with curtido, a fermented cabbage slaw similar to sauerkraut and kimchi. This dish is typically eaten by hand.
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Through archaeological research, it was determined that the pupusa has been in existence for roughly 2,000 years and is linked to the Pipil people. Before contact with the Europeans, the pupusa was a vegetarian dish, as corn flour provided the Natives with substantial protein. By the 1570s, meat started to be incorporated as well.
The pupusa has not always been widespread, but as people began to migrate from the countryside to more urban areas in the 1950s, it grew in popularity. In the 1980s, the Salvadoran Civil War forced many Salvadorans to migrate — and they took the pupusa with them. Diaspora communities have settled in Washington DC, California, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, opening restaurants and pupuserias to share their culture and cuisine.
Where to Get Pupusa in Essex County
Anthony’s Cheesecake | 71 Washington Street, Bloomfield
Anthony’s Cheesecake, though most notable for its cheesecake and desserts, also has a pupusa dish. We recommend ordering off the brunch menu to try the Garlic Shrimp and Egg Breakfast Pupusa. This is a griddled corn cake topped with black beans, garlic-roasted shrimp, an egg, cheddar, peppers, onions, and chimichurri sauce. If you are not stuffed after this hearty meal, we suggest ordering the Coconut Flan, Tres Leches Cake, or Tiramisu to finish off the meal.
El Nuevo Centro Americano | 1404 Springfield Avenue, Irvington
(Photo credit: @elcentroamericano1404)
El Nuevo Centro Americano serves a variety of Central American food, ranging from pupusas to quesadillas and tacos. This family-owned business has been in operation for over 10 years in Irvington. In addition to dining, it also has takeout and delivery. One of the best items here is Pupusas con Todo, which is filled with pork, beans, and cheese — and you can pair this with a side of Tostones.
El Salvador Restaurante | 107 S Day Street, Orange
(Photo credit: El Salvador Restaurante’s Facebook)
El Salvador Restaurante, started by Marcos Monroy, may just serve some of the best pupusas in the Garden State. Just minutes from the Orange Train Station, this location is perfect for those looking for any type of Salvadoran food. The menu includes nine different flavor variations of pupusas stuffed with ingredients such as ground pork, zucchini, mozzarella, and refried beans. This restaurant also serves Mexican tacos, shrimp dishes, soups, and more. In addition to home-cooked meals, it also serves fruits such as sliced mango, jocotes, mombins, and many other foods and snacks from El Salvador.
La Casa de Las Pupusas | 139 Passaic Street, Passaic
La Casa de Las Pupusas offers a variety of Salvadoran food to the Passaic community. This restaurant serves several varieties of pupusas stuffed with cheese, beans, spinach, chorizo, onion, chicken, mushrooms, and more. It also has soup, tamales, and enchiladas. We suggest ordering a pupusa with mozzarella cheese and a side of platano frito and rice.
La Villa Mexican + Salvadoran Food | 261 Irvington Avenue, South Orange
Since 2020, La Villa Mexican and Salvadoran Food in South Orange has been serving up Mexican and Salvadoran dishes. This is a great spot to visit, relax, and enjoy a plethora of delicious food such as tostados, empañadas, and pupusas. The pupusas come in four flavors: beans and cheese, loroco and cheese, and lastly pork, cheese, and beans. Each is served with a side of pickled cabbage and tomato sauce. La Villa is located just a few minutes from Downtown South Orange and Seton Hall University. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and is open every day of the week except Sundays. When you dine, we suggest trying an order of the cheese pupusas and pairing it with a side of yuca frita.
Pupusas to Go | 388 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield
Just a short walk from Watsessing Station and along Bloomfield Avenue, Pupusas to Go is a classic pupuseria in Bloomfield. It offers several varieties of pupusas stuffed with cheese, loroco, beans, chicken, and more. It’s open every day aside from Saturdays. Plus, if you’re having a cozy day in, there’s delivery on Grubhub.
Restaurante Salvadoreno Las Canastillas | 326 Broad Street, Newark
(Photo credit: @restaurantelascanastillas)
Since 1993, Restaurante Salvadoreno Las Canastillas has been serving authentic Salvadoran food to Newark and the greater area. Open seven days a week, it offers dining and take-out. Here, you can find traditional pupusas made from corn as well as an option made from rice flour. These pupusas include cheese, beans, chicken, fried pork, and more. For a fun night out with friends or a date night, the drink menu includes numerous beers and a variety of cocktails such as Piña Coladas, Mojitos, and Sangria.