Salvadoran pupusas are specialty at tiny restaurant near Midway

Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Salvadorean quesadillas star of menu at Pupuseria
Pupuseria in Clearing serves dozens of flavors of pupusa including pork, steak, cheese.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In the Clearing neighborhood - just West of Midway Airport - two best friends have been combining their own recipes, creating a dish so popular in El Salvador, they named their café after it.

The slap-slap of wet corn masa between the cook's hands can be heard back in the kitchen of Pupuseria pretty much all day.

The tiny-yet-quaint cafe sits in a mini restaurant row about a mile or so west of Midway.

Maritza Claros and her friend Laura run the show there, making sweet crepes, thick, cake-like Salvadoran quesadillas and the star of the menu - pupusas.

"A pupusa is basically a dough - masa - and then inside it has different fillings. It originally comes from El Salvador, and we can use different fillings we can use pork, steak, cheese," Claros said.

The masa dough is fairly wet, filled with a palm-sized portion of savory filling like beans, cheese or poblanos, then quickly sealed, patted into a stubby disc and then quickly slapped down on the flat top, where it cooks for about 10 minutes, constantly being flipped and checked. It's essentially a Salvadoran stuffed pancake.

"They always come with the salsa and the curtido on the side. Curtido comes with salt, vinegar, carrots, onions and the coleslaw. If it doesn't come with it, it wouldn't be a pupusa," she said.

Those salsas are fantastic, and the quality and texture of the pupusas is also worth noting.

Claros said she's been making them since she was 12, so she's learned a thing or two.

"To make the best pupusas would be having the best ingredients and also I make it with passion and the right skills," Claros said.

There are about a dozen flavors to choose from on the regular menu, but the nice thing about the pupusas here is you can also customize your flavor. If you find something on the menu that looks interesting, create your own.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Be sure to try one of their agua frescas or even their horchata, which is quite a bit different than the usual recipe you'd find in a Mexican restaurant.

6533 W. 63rd St.