Pupuseria Doña Azucena


pupusa, el salvador, salvadoran food, pastel de carne, pupuseria dona azucena, salvadoran food dcEven though we’re not in El Salvador yet, that doesn’t mean Kail and I can’t experience Salvadoran culture — particularly Salvadoran food. Specifically, the pupusa.Seeing as how there’s a national holiday in El Salvador dedicated to the pupusa, its national food, I thought it best to familiarize myself with this all-important dish. (Also, I consider it part of my all-of-the-above strategy in learning Spanish.)So we recently headed to Pupuseria Doña Azucena in Arlington for a true immersion experience.We didn’t actually order in Spanish or communicate with the staff in Spanish (see: embarrassment factor, getting over it). But we did talk to each other in Spanish. In hushed tones, in a table in the corner, so the other clientele wouldn’t laugh at our terrible accents and stumbling grasp of the language.But this post is about food, not language. Behold:pupuseria dona azucena, el salvador, salvadoran food, pupusa, chicharron con queso, salvadoran food dcPupusas: Chicharron con Queso. (Pork with cheese.)I actually have been to Pupuseria Doña Azucena twice recently, once by myself for lunch after school and a second time with Kail. So I’ve had the opportunity to sample different items on the menu, including three types of pupusas: chicharron con queso, queso con ayote and loroco con queso (pork with cheese, cheese with squash and loroco (a Salvadoran plant) with cheese). Lots of cheese.Kail had pupusas also: chicharron con queso, queso con frijoles and chicharron con frijoles (pork with cheese, cheese with beans and pork with beans). We also shared a side of rice and beans. The pupusas are served with curtido, a traditional Salvadoran cabbage cole slaw, and a mild red salsa.Each pupusa only costs $1.50. Same with the sides.The time I had lunch by myself, I tried a pastel de carne, which sort of reminded me of an empanada:

pupuseria dona azucena, empanada, pupusa, salvadoran food, el salvador, salvadoran food dc

This bad boy set me back a whole $1. It was good, but the pupusas really are the star of the show. True story: Despite having grown up in the Washington, DC area, home to one of the country’s largest populations of Salvadorans, I ate my first pupusa only a couple years ago, at Tortilla Cafe near Eastern Market (the one featured on the Food Network program “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives”). And I was not that big of a fan: Tortilla Cafe’s pupusas are very doughy.I wanted to give the pupusa another chance though, given the whole moving-to-El-Salvador thing. And I’m glad I did, because the pupusas at Pupuseria Doña Azucena are tasty.There are a couple other menu items that looked interesting, so we’ll probably be returning prior to departing for El Salvador. I would be worried about getting tired of pupusas given that we’ll be living in El Salvador for two years, except how can you get tired of fried corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and other delicious things?The Details: Pupuseria Doña AzucenaAddress: 71 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Va.Phone: 703-248-0332Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sat. 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sun. 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.Price Range: Very inexpensive ($1.50/pupusa)Good for Kids: Sí (Yes)Tips: If you dine-in, you will emerge smelling slightly of fried foods. Particularly if you sit at the counter, directly in the path of smoke wafting over from the stove. They do offer carryout.

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

9 thoughts on “Pupuseria Doña Azucena

  1. Yum, it all sounds wonderful. It must be deep friend because I was just thinking that if I stuffed a tortilla withe cheese and meet and pan friend it, it would turn out like a quesadilla.We’ve lived in Arlington since 2004 (when we aren’t overseas-and actually I guess we’ve lived overseas longer than actually living in Arlington!). Anyway, we own a house in South Arlington right by Bangkok 54 and Lost Dog Cafe, in the old neighborhood behind the Drug Store. There are some great South American cuisine in that area but we’ve never tried much. I look forward to doing that some day. If we ever head back to that area. As of now, we’ve completely outgrown our little 950 sq ft townhouse!


    1. Well it’s not healthy, I can tell you that! Ooh I love Lost Dog. Yeah, I imagine after living in Embassy-provided housing overseas it would be hard to adjust back to “normal” U.S. housing, particularly if your family has grown!


  2. Natasha, I’m so jealous of your papusa-eating adventures! I think papusas are one of my very favorite foods, but of course, Arlington/DC has many more places to indulge than NYC. In fact, there are no papusarias (that I’ve been able to find, after extensive online searching!) in Manhattan, and the only place to get them is a food cart that we can (sometimes) locate in Brooklyn. I got hooked on papusas after a month-long service trip to El Salvador as an undergrad, and I’m sure you will love the country and the people that you meet!


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