Celebrate the New Year — 2020 AD — with yummy foods and all at very reasonable prices. You don’t even have to travel out to the wide, open plains to get a real kick to your palate and a thumbs-up to your wallet: Pupusas Express in Herndon is a must destination, particularly if you love Latino fare.
(Note: It’s located on a side street in a modest store front. Parking is somewhat limited…but worth the escapade.)
Although inspired by Salvadoran recipes, many of the offerings will have a familiar ring. Take, for example, among the appetizers: yuca con chicharron, or deep-fried cubes of pork served with fried strips of yuca, makes a universal appearance in many Mexican, Tex-Mex, and South American restaurants that feature Honduran and Guatemalan dishes. The serving is ample for two, and though it is classified as an appetizer, it can well become a main course at lunch or dinner. Other appetizers include ceviche, fried plantains, chicken nachos and chicken quesadillas, and chips and guacamole.
For main fare, sample some of the pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish using two corn tortillas that sandwich a filling of your choice: shredded pork and beans with cheese; just cheese; just beans and cheese; and loroco flower (an edible flower from a Central American plant) and cheese, among others. Typically, the thick tortillas are corn, but the kitchen also offers a choice of flour tortillas.
Soups, as starters or main course offerings, include beef tripe stew; beef and beef bones cooked with yucca and other veggies; a seafood combo; and a country chicken soup. You might want to add on a salad as well, which is simply romaine lettuce and veggies topped with your choice of chicken or steak.
Traditional main dishes include several types of tacos; fajitas; beef stew; Salvadorian rib steak with sausages; chicken and shrimp; and a grilled chicken or steak burrito, among several other offerings.
But if you are a pupusa fan, order several with the fillings of your choice; these will provide an ample meal. Sides include rice, refried beans, tamales, fried tortillas with such add-ons as refried beans, grilled steak or chicken, and avocado.
Desserts: flan; tres leches cake; arroz con leche; and Salvadorian empanadas, or fried sweet plantains filled with corn flour and milk. But no meal here would be complete without its stunning hot drink, the atol de elote, or sweet corn drink—this is much like sipping on a creamy corn custard with bits of corn kernels inside. Order several for take-home enjoyment.
Pupusas Express, 720 Grant St., Herndon, 703-383-0025. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Sundays. Order online or ask for delivery with a 4-mile radius. www.pupusasexpress.com.