>> Van Nuys Pupusa Stand (Isabel) | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 16 December 2019

Van Nuys Pupusa Stand (Isabel)

EL SALVADOR 🇸🇻

Los Angeles is a city that certainly does not make it hard to find pupusas. Salvadoran enclaves are spread out in many parts, from north to south, making restaurants and sidewalk stands readily available to hungry folks. The latter can be found especially prevalent on weekends, when from early morning hours in South Los Angeles or near MacArthur Park the familiar and comforting sound of fresh pupusas being patted out is like a siren song.

And while they have differences, Central Americans are no strangers to eating tacos as well, something of a national dish of Los Angeles. As you can find any night over at the Guatemalan night market in Westlake, fresh tortillas are thicker and often have big cuts of just-grilled meats. This style of taco is more common with Salvadoran vendors as well, and following a friendly lead to Van Nuys turned up the three nights a week operation of Isabel, who cooks both pupusas and tacos on Victory Blvd in front of an apartment complex.


The corn flour masa mix is ready on standby, but the rest of its birth must take place after ordering to ensure the best result. At some high volume pupusa stands they might have many going so that wait times can be lower, but it is really worth it regardless. That aforementioned "pat pat pat" almost works as a direct signal to the stomach, with hunger pangs shooting back up in return.

Beans and cheese are added before flattening out and then the pupusa is thrown on the charcoal comal. Quite a few flips and about ten minutes later your order is ready, the temperature hovering somewhere around that of the surface of the sun.


An entire table is dedicated to toppings and salsas for everything. The two traditional toppings are pickled cabbage (curtido) and a slightly sweet and non-spicy tomato salsa, as seen above. There are plenty of other vegetable and salsa options as well, mostly to accompany orders of tacos, but to be honest there are no rules so go to town. The only pro tip is that pupusas are meant to be eaten by hand. This of course can be tricky given how hot it is and how hungry you are, but it is unlikely you will be heckled for using a knife and fork.

Even more popular than the pupusas and seemingly the reason the other patrons had come was for tacos and other plates of all grilled meats. Chicken, pork, ribs, sausages, intestines and more are available, all to be hacked up when ready and placed on nice thick homemade tortillas.


Back on the condiments table there are pickled cucumber slices and other vegetables, limes ready for squeezing, and a selection of salsas to find just the right combination. You could come here for three nights straight and make different tacos for yourself. Thick cuts of meat are seen below with nice marinades and a layer of char from the grill.

Life does not get much better than taking your bounty to the provided table and sharing it with other neighbors who have brought their families to eat here. The stand is currently open three nights a week, Friday through Sunday, from 16:00 to 22:00.



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