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La'S Best Pupusas In Los Angeles For Any Food Lover, Sarita’S Pupuseria

Pupusas are cheap and cheerful, exceptionally hearty, stuffed and griddled disks of slaked cornmeal or rice flour that originated in El Salvador. They invariably cost less than $3 in even the most stylish restaurants, and are most likely available somewhere near you.

We learned three very important things when sampling them across L.A. The first is that there are five standard fillings to choose from: beans, cheese, minced pork (chicharrón, which is ground pork in this case, and not fried skin), loroco (a type of vine flower) and revuelta, which consists of beans, cheese and pork. And while the beans will for sure have lard, the masa itself won't, so this is a perfect vegetarian meal if you order correctly.

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Second, and really most important, is that they do not come quickly, ever, so just put that out of your mind; this isn't fast food. The third lesson is that a pupusa is an incredibly formulaic thing. Variations on the theme are nuanced at best. Every spot will serve you a plate with your pupusas, some Tapatio hot sauce, a squeeze bottle of mild pureed salsa rojo and a help-yourself container of curtido, which is a slightly pickled cabbage slaw with carrots and oregano. For our list, we obviously took in to consideration taste and then the general atmosphere of the pupuseria, the assortment of fillings offered, and the accompaniments. Turn the page.

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Los Cocos; Credit: Rachael Narins

1. Los Cocos Panderia y Pupuseria:

The flawless 6-inch pupusas from Los Cocos are served redolent with the scent of corn, absolutely brimming with cheese in some and smoky pork in the others. The cheese sometimes spills over onto the grill, adding an extra dimension of crispiness. There are at least 14 varieties listed on the wall-mounted menu, including several vegan options which we tried and were duly impressed with. The curtido is chopped and has a hint of purple cabbage that stains it a charming light pink color. The salsa rojo is exactly like every other place we tried — but the additional brick red salsa brings it all together. Does it take 15 minutes to get to you? Yes. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely. 4804 1/2 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 636-1043.

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We know that there are at least 200 pupuserias in the greater Los Angeles area, so we would love to hear where you get your fix. Not that we care to eat one again for a long, long time — unless you're buying.

Be sure to download our Best Of mobile app for more of this sort of thing. Cupcakes, burgers, dim sum, tacos, coffee shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, burritos, milkshakes, etc.

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