clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A pupusa sits on a styrofoam plate, with a plate of cabbage and spicy sauce on top.
Pupusa Restaurant stays true to its name, pumping out hundreds of pupusas daily.
Brittany Britto Garley

Filed under:

Houston’s Hillcroft Avenue Is Pupusa Paradise

This 8-mile-stretch is peppered with El Salvadoran restaurants and pupuserias serving up hot discs of masa filled with cheesy goodness

A benefit to living in Houston is that when a craving for a certain dish or cuisine hits, it’s likely that a quick search will yield a result, somehow, somewhere in the city. A true testament to this was after a recent hankering for pupusas. Considered the national dish of El Salvador, these hot, steamy tortillas made of corn or rice flour are filled with gooey cheese and other stuffings, like pork, refried beans, or locoro flowers, then fried and/or grilled, and served with a healthy heap of tangy cabbage and spicy salsa. Luckily, they weren’t hard to find.

A visit to my go-to spot Mama Rosa’s and a search of places nearby yielded a decent-sized cluster of Salvadoran restaurants on Hillcroft Avenue, and pupusas were on nearly every menu. With its various cultures and cuisines, Hillcroft, an 8-mile-stretch from Beltway 8 to Westheimer Road in western Houston, has already proven to be a microcosm of Houston as a whole, and with residents from El Salvador being the second largest Central American community in Houston behind Mexico, it was delightful though not surprising to see how many pupuserias and Salvarodan restaurants peppered the area.

Though it’s likely impossible to visit all of Hillcroft’s Salvadoran restaurants in one day, here are four stellar places to start — a food crawl, if you will — that will give you a taste of just what Hillcroft Avenue’s Salvadoran scene and its pupusas have to offer.

Stats from this food crawl:

Number of stops: 4

Distance: 4.6 miles

Number of pupusas ordered: 10

Number of hours spent on food crawl: 2.5

Mama Rosa’s Pupuseria

3631 Hillcroft Street, 77057

Two pupusas sit in a to-go box, with a bag of cabbage and two containers of salsa.
For here or to-go, Mama Rosa’s are made-to-order and piping hot.
Brittany Britto Garley

The most Northern stop on this crawl, this no-frills mom-and-pop restaurant is a solid place to begin your pupusa journey. The restaurant serves reliably steamy pupusas made-to-order with stretchy cheese and traditional ingredients like pork and beans, plus traditional Salvadoran breakfast plates, and soups that will make you feel like you took a trip back to El Salvador.

Buffet de Pupusas

6451 Hillcroft Street, 77081

Three pupusas sit on a plate beside a clump of cabbage, a bowl of chicken soup, a glass of horchata, and a container of spicy sauce.
Opt for the buffet and order as many pupusas as your heart desires at Buffet de Pupusas.
Brittany Britto Garley

A restaurant and market in one, Buffet de Pupusas is a great introduction to El Salvadoran cuisine and pupusas if you’ve never had one. The $14 all-you-can-eat option offers unlimited bowls of flavorful chicken soup with meat that falls off the bone and a wide selection of agua frescas, including horchata, watermelon, and passion fruit — a perfect place to start while you wait for your pupusas. Take advantage of the buffet-style situation, and order one of each pupusa, which is made-to-order with your choice of cheese and chicken, squash, pork, beans, or loroco — an edible, fragrant flower popularly used in pupusas and other foods in El Salvador. If you’re interested in branching out beyond those cheesy discs of goodness, check out the restaurant’s full menu that offers a host of Central American flavors in dishes like tamales, carne asada, and caldo de pata or cow feet soup, an especially popular order on weekends, or browse the Buffet de Pupusa’s stocked shelves for snacks and various food items from Central America to take home.

El Pupusodromo

5902 Renwick Drive, 77081

Two pupusas sit on a plate, with a side of cabbage, spicy sauces, and a glass of fruit punch.
Enjoy a pupusa with an agua fresca at El Pupusodromo.
Brittany Britto Garley

Just a short detour from Hillcroft Avenue proper, El Pupusodromo offers some of the cheesiest pupusas in the area, with all the expected ingredients and then some. Find pupusas priced around $3, which are stuffed with your choice of cheese and loroco, beans, squash, and pork, or less typical proteins, like fajita beef, chicken, shrimp, and chorizo for an additional cost. The experience only gets better with its homemade drinks, with some of the favorites being its El Salvadoran horchata and the fruit punch, a combination of fresh juices mixed with diced fruit.

Pupusa Restaurant

7909 Hillcroft Street, Suite A, 77081

Open at 7 a.m. daily, this bustling restaurant, labeled simply “Pupusa,” is a popular spot for people in the area, particularly for breakfast, with platters made up of eggs, refried beans, potatoes, and proteins like chorizo, ham, and pork franks served until 8 p.m. The appetizer menu or antojitos, which translates to “little cravings,” offers a variety of snacks like tamales, sweet plantain empanadas, pastelitos de carne, yuca fries with chicharrones, and more, but the pupusas being the namesake are the most popular. Undoubtedly the largest of this specific crawl, the pupusas are made with corn or masa flour, but you can also experience the crunchier bite of the pupusas de arroz, or rice flour pupusas, for an extra charge.

Airport Dining Guides

Everything You Need to Know About Dining and Drinking at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

These Houston Nigerian Chefs Are Bringing West African Cuisine Mainstream

Six Houston Food and Drink Events You Won’t Want to Miss This Fall