Sanctuary for Salvadoran Food

Give me your tired, your poor, but most definitely your pupusas.

Los Panchos, a colorfully decorated Mission hangout, slaps together an especially fine chicharron pupusa ($2 each); the shredded pork is rich and hearty, and mingles deliciously with the melting queso blanco. The plain queso pupusa isn't as successful, however, and the house curtido is without merit: bland, chewy, watery, and flavorless.

Get those pupusas hot off the griddle and just a little charred.
Jen Siska
Get those pupusas hot off the griddle and just a little charred.

Location Info

Map

Sub-Mission Art Space (Balazo 18 Gallery)

2183 Mission
San Francisco, CA 94100

Category: Community Venues

Region: Potrero Hill

Details

Antojitos Salvadorenos Aminta
In the Mission Market mall, 2590 Mission (at 22nd St.), 648-4737. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: possible. Muni: 14, 49. Noise level: cheerful.

El Balazo
2183 Mission (at 18th St.), 522-0845, www.elbalazo.net. Open daily 6 a.m.-3 a.m. Amex, MC, Visa. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: doable. Muni: 14, 33, 49. Noise level: varies.

Balompié
3349 18th St. (at Capp), 648-9199, www.balompiecafe.com. Open daily 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. MC, Visa. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: conceivable. Muni: 14, 33, 49. Noise level: lively.

Los Panchos
3206 Mission (at Valencia), 285-1033. Open Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-3 a.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 a.m. AmEx, MC, Visa. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: feasible. Muni: 14, 26, 49, 67. Noise level: serene.

El Patio
3193 Mission (at Valencia), 641-5056. Open Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thu. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-midnight. Amex, MC, Visa. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: manageable. Muni: 14, 26, 49, 67. Noise level: jovial.

La Santaneca de la Mission
2815 Mission (at 24th St.), 285-2131. Open Mon.-Thu. 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Cash only. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: viable. Muni: 14, 49, 67. Noise level: pleasant.

El Zócalo
3230 Mission (at Valencia), 282-2572. Open Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 a.m. Amex, Discover, MC, Visa. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: plausible. Muni: 14, 26, 49, 67. Noise level: buoyant.

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The curtido at Balompié, by contrast, is terrific, a bright, citrusy tangle of cabbage, carrot, and spice. It's an ideal match for what may be the city's most corpulent and pillowy pupusas ($2.25 each). The chicharron is robust, spicy, and ribboned with loroco; the camarón features big chunks of plump pink prawns and oozing cheese; the vegetariano is verdant with corn kernels and zucchini slivers. There's even a surprisingly simpatico Italian version with shards of prosciutto and sweet earthy basil, a light and lovely variation on calzone. They come with a deep, smoky salsa roja and a bowl of crisp, ultraspicy pickled carrots, onions, cauliflower, and jalapeños — splendid accents for this up-and-coming millennia-old taste treat.

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