This was one of the more price diverse eating weekends I’ve had in a while. Our dinner on Friday night cost us about $120 per couple and my dinner on Saturday night rang in at a whopping $13 for two and to be perfectly honest we way over ordered at our $13 dinner.
So, where does one have a delicious dinner for less than $13? While we weren’t eating off the Micky D’s Dollar Menu, we were eating right across the street from it at Pupuseria Doña Azucena on Glebe Road in Arlington. This local Salvadorian joint located in a strip mall next to a pawn shop is unassuming but definitely worth a visit.
I’d been reading about this place a lot and decided I needed to see what all the talk was about. I would like to start by saying I have no idea what a papusa is supposed to taste like but I thought these were pretty darn good. We started off by ordering 3 papusas ($1.50 each) to share along with a pork and cassava dish. I would not order the pork dish again. It was bland and the pork was dry. The good news is, the papusas totally made up for it.
We ended up ordering one zucchini and cheese, one cheese and loroco (vine flower) and one with beans, pork and cheese. I thought for sure I would like the pork on the most but the zucchini was the clear winner for both of us. While I’m still not totally sure how one makes a papusa, they seemed to be nicely grilled on the outside and filled with zesty cheese and fillings on the inside. The zucchini one was so good we each ordered another one halfway through our meal.
One of my favorite parts about this Salvadorian treat was the curtido (cabbage salad) and salsa rojo (mild red sauce) that came with the dishes. Cabbage is one of my favorite veggies and I love that every culture seems to have managed to develop a fantastic accompaniment from it. Whether it is pikliz in Haiti, kimchi in Korea and now curtido in El Salvador, I’m hooked. I think I may have confused the waitress when I asked for a second bowl of curtido. I’m pretty sure most people just eat it straight but I have no shame!
One thing to note is that they do not serve alcohol. Not a big deal considering you are not really there to hang out and they have a wide range of slushy horchata drinks to choose from. I’m kicking myself for not trying one but I’m sure I’ll be back soon!