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10 Essential Salvadoran Restaurants Around DC

It’s not just about pupusas, though there are plenty of those

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Salvadorans represent the largest group of Hispanics living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area explains why there are so many options when it comes to Salvadoran restaurants in the city and the ‘burbs.

From barebones family operations in Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights to a restaurant that found fame on the Food Network, there’s no reason you shouldn’t chow down on something beyond pupusas, those popular and flavorful Salvadoran trifectas of meat, dough and cheese.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

La Casita Pupuseria & Market (Multiple Locations)

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Fans of this 14-year-old restaurant can’t get enough of its chicken tamales and the el pan de pollo sandwich that’s filled with pollo Guisado, curtido blanco, hard egg, mayo-mustard, tomato, beets, radish and cucumber. And for $6.35, it’s a steal. With additional locations in Germantown and Gaithersburg.

Pupuseria El Comalito (Multiple Locations)

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Pupuseria El Comalito prides itself on slinging authentic Salvadoran cuisine including 18 different kids of pupusas — all under $2. Other specialties include plantains served with Salvadoran sour cream, Salvadoran tripe soup and grilled chicken served with a side of Salvadoran chorizo, Salvadoran fresh cheese, rice, beans, diced tomatoes and avocado slice. Additional locations are in Riverdale Park and Gaithersburg.

Las Placitas (Multiple Locations)

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Named after a tiny plaza on the site of an active volcano in San Miguel, El Salvador, this pupusa spot serves up a variety of Salvadoran specialties, including the $16.95 puerco al horno — roasted pork bites sautéed with onions and plantains. The highly recommended La Placitas sampler at the restaurant’s 14th Street location offers grilled shrimp, steak, chicken, and one pupusa served on sautéed veggies.

Las Placitas [Photo: Gary T/<a href="https://foursquare.com/v/las-placitas/4a4eae6ff964a520ecae1fe3?openPhotoId=51f1c5f9498e002c0c022c59">Foursquare</a> Gary T/Foursquare

Gloria's Pupuseria

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A list of Salvadoran restaurants wouldn’t be complete without a this Columbia Heights hotspot. Fans crave Gloria’s pupusas and its curtido (a Salvadoran cabbage slaw). And yes, get both — they will not disappoint.

Don Juan Restaurant

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Don Juan, a Mt. Pleasant fixture since 1978, offers some interesting fare, including Salvadoran enchiladas and a Salvadoran egg platter with plantains, rice, black beans, cheese, avocado and tortillas.

El Tamarindo

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Pupusas are the name of the game at this funky Adams Morgan restaurant, which serves up nine different types with curtido and salsa until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The most popular pupusa fillings? Beans with cheese and pork with cheese.

El Rinconcito Café (Multiple Locations)

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Spanish for “little corner,” this no-frills eatery specializes in chicharrones fritos — fried pork served with white rice, refried beans and veggies in homemade corn tortillas — for under $13. You have four different meats to savor, including multiple varieties of steak, shrimp, beef and chicken. Besides that, there are two locations for your pleasure — one in Mt. Vernon and the other in Columbia Heights. (see facebook for photos)

Tortilla Café

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Eight years after celebrity chef Guy Fieri highlighted the Eastern Market eatery on the Food Network’s “Guy’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” Tortilla Café is still riding the wave. That’s why its tamales and pupusas are STILL the most popular items — they were featured on the show.

Pupuseria Doña Azucena (Multiple Locations)

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Don't let the name of this local chain fool you — pupusas are far from the only Salvadoran fare dished at this no-frills restaurant. You’ll also find fried plantains with fried beans and Salvadoran cream as an appetizer, traditional breakfasts like Salvadoran sausage with eggs, onions, tomatoes and green peppers, which is served on the weekends and pineapple pie for dessert. You’ll find other locations in Laurel, Herndon Manassas and Woodbridge,

Sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) at Pupuseria Doña Azucena
M B./Yelp

La Union Restaurant

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Ever since it opened in 1998, La Union has been highlighting traditional Salvadoran dishes born out of family recipes that go back to 1922. Its specialties include shrimp grilled in the restaurant’s signature butter sauce with capers and served with rice and veggies, as well as marinated pork grilled skewers.

La Casita Pupuseria & Market (Multiple Locations)

Fans of this 14-year-old restaurant can’t get enough of its chicken tamales and the el pan de pollo sandwich that’s filled with pollo Guisado, curtido blanco, hard egg, mayo-mustard, tomato, beets, radish and cucumber. And for $6.35, it’s a steal. With additional locations in Germantown and Gaithersburg.

Pupuseria El Comalito (Multiple Locations)

Pupuseria El Comalito prides itself on slinging authentic Salvadoran cuisine including 18 different kids of pupusas — all under $2. Other specialties include plantains served with Salvadoran sour cream, Salvadoran tripe soup and grilled chicken served with a side of Salvadoran chorizo, Salvadoran fresh cheese, rice, beans, diced tomatoes and avocado slice. Additional locations are in Riverdale Park and Gaithersburg.

Las Placitas (Multiple Locations)

Las Placitas [Photo: Gary T/<a href="https://foursquare.com/v/las-placitas/4a4eae6ff964a520ecae1fe3?openPhotoId=51f1c5f9498e002c0c022c59">Foursquare</a> Gary T/Foursquare

Named after a tiny plaza on the site of an active volcano in San Miguel, El Salvador, this pupusa spot serves up a variety of Salvadoran specialties, including the $16.95 puerco al horno — roasted pork bites sautéed with onions and plantains. The highly recommended La Placitas sampler at the restaurant’s 14th Street location offers grilled shrimp, steak, chicken, and one pupusa served on sautéed veggies.

Las Placitas [Photo: Gary T/<a href="https://foursquare.com/v/las-placitas/4a4eae6ff964a520ecae1fe3?openPhotoId=51f1c5f9498e002c0c022c59">Foursquare</a> Gary T/Foursquare

Gloria's Pupuseria

A list of Salvadoran restaurants wouldn’t be complete without a this Columbia Heights hotspot. Fans crave Gloria’s pupusas and its curtido (a Salvadoran cabbage slaw). And yes, get both — they will not disappoint.

Don Juan Restaurant

Don Juan, a Mt. Pleasant fixture since 1978, offers some interesting fare, including Salvadoran enchiladas and a Salvadoran egg platter with plantains, rice, black beans, cheese, avocado and tortillas.

El Tamarindo

Pupusas are the name of the game at this funky Adams Morgan restaurant, which serves up nine different types with curtido and salsa until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The most popular pupusa fillings? Beans with cheese and pork with cheese.

El Rinconcito Café (Multiple Locations)

Spanish for “little corner,” this no-frills eatery specializes in chicharrones fritos — fried pork served with white rice, refried beans and veggies in homemade corn tortillas — for under $13. You have four different meats to savor, including multiple varieties of steak, shrimp, beef and chicken. Besides that, there are two locations for your pleasure — one in Mt. Vernon and the other in Columbia Heights. (see facebook for photos)

Tortilla Café

Eight years after celebrity chef Guy Fieri highlighted the Eastern Market eatery on the Food Network’s “Guy’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” Tortilla Café is still riding the wave. That’s why its tamales and pupusas are STILL the most popular items — they were featured on the show.

Pupuseria Doña Azucena (Multiple Locations)

Sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) at Pupuseria Doña Azucena
M B./Yelp

Don't let the name of this local chain fool you — pupusas are far from the only Salvadoran fare dished at this no-frills restaurant. You’ll also find fried plantains with fried beans and Salvadoran cream as an appetizer, traditional breakfasts like Salvadoran sausage with eggs, onions, tomatoes and green peppers, which is served on the weekends and pineapple pie for dessert. You’ll find other locations in Laurel, Herndon Manassas and Woodbridge,

Sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) at Pupuseria Doña Azucena
M B./Yelp

La Union Restaurant

Ever since it opened in 1998, La Union has been highlighting traditional Salvadoran dishes born out of family recipes that go back to 1922. Its specialties include shrimp grilled in the restaurant’s signature butter sauce with capers and served with rice and veggies, as well as marinated pork grilled skewers.

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