>> Usulteka Pupuseria | Eat the World NYC

22 May 2019

Usulteka Pupuseria


When you are merrily walking east down Jamaica Avenue on the first actual warm day in spring, through a few block stretch that is mostly auto repair and smog check shops, a pupusa stand with outdoor seating may just be the only thing in the world worth a detour. Who cares that you were on your way to other meals? This demands your attention now, so get to the counter and order as many of these Salvadoran snacks as you see fit. You can think of an excuse why you are not hungry while sipping on their homemade horchata.

From the look of their Facebook page, the stand has grown up a bit since it's birth last summer. In three photos uploaded from what can be presumed was around the opening of the operation, an open air grill was right at the corner. This year they have taken over a larger chunk of the auto body shop's real estate and fenced in a small seating area. A colorful tourist bus much like the party wagons found in some Latin American cities provides a boundary, and the cooking has moved to a permanent and sheltered structure.

Like Sunset Park's Usuluteco restaurant, the name here is a reference to someone from the southeastern Salvadoran city of Usulután. This visit took place shortly after noon, but a short conversation with the proprietor revealed that despite being open at 10am every morning, the real business is to be had in the evenings and late at night. On weeknights you can eat pupusas here until 2am and on Friday and Saturday the stand remains open until 5am. She pointed out a couple places that have crowded bars in the area, and since Jamaica also has a thriving and growing population of Central Americans coming home at all hours, the stand serves both types of hunger.

On a warm summer night, after a few drinks, there must be few places more comfortable and satisfying than the benches here at Usulteko. Pupusas ($2.25 each, below) are perfect for filling your belly with something heavy and greasy to counteract the effects of alcohol, but to be honest they did just as well perfectly sober on this day.

Most of the standard options are available, and each of the corn (no rice versions here) discs is stuffed and prepared to order with ample filling. A tomato salsa and curtido, the fermented cabbage used liberally to top each bite, are added by the house, but certainly more could probably be obtained if necessary.

While pupusas are meant to be eaten by hand, a plate arrives piping hot so be careful. The chicharrón and frijol versions seen here, both with cheese, were excellent and some of the most delicious eaten in the city. Did this have anything to do with the excitement and environment found here on the corner of 180th Street and Jamaica Avenue? Certainly possible, but this is all part of what makes eating so wonderful to begin with.

Waiting to cool.


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