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Friday, March 11, 2011

No. 47: Pupusas Revueltas at La Santaneca

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM

click to enlarge La Santaneca's pupusas: So cheap you have to order five. - ALBERT LAW/PORKBELLYSTUDIO.COM

SFoodie's countdown of our 92 favorite things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

Ordering too many pupusas is a perpetual problem, even though SFoodie knows that we only have the physical fortitude to down two. The order always starts with one pupusa revuelta (at La Santaneca, that means cheese, pork, and refried beans), and of course one with queso and loroco. Then momentum takes over ― they're only a couple bucks a pop ― and we add on a zucchini pupusa, and for good measure, a rice-flour pupusa filled with chicharron. Pretty soon we're staring at a platter of fat, griddle-browned corn cakes covered with a head's worth of shredded, pickled cabbage. (Ordering extra curtido: no shame.)

It's especially hard to order in moderation at La Santaneca, one of San Francisco's oldest and best Salvadoran restaurants, because the meal has to include fried yuca con chicharron, a couple of tamales ― they taste as if the masa was whipped to the consistency of a meringue ― and a glass of its horchata made with ground sesame and squash seeds.

Why is the pupusa revuelta our baseline? Because the chicharron ― shredded carnitas rather than pork skin ― is too powerfully meaty to eat on its own, and because it seems a shame to order a pupusa without releasing a flow of molten cheese once we begin cutting in. Do the cooks here bless the masa in some way to make it extra-savory? Hard to tell. Perhaps the cabbage slaw is so vivid that it sets off the deep, almost toasty flavor of the corn cake in brighter relief. It's hard to imagine a more satisfying $5 dinner. At least, it would be a $5 dinner if we could only control our impulses.

La Santaneca: 3781 Mission (at Richland), 648-1034.

Dishes in our series so far:

92: Goat tacos from El Norteño

91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu

90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha

89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar

88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline

87: Outerlands' levain bread

86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt

85: Gyro King's spinach pie

84: Tandoori fish from Lahore Karahi

83: Braised oxtail and daikon from Namu

82: Golden Gate Bakery's custard tarts

81: Commonwealth's cured foie gras with umeboshi purée

80: Star Stream's Liège-style waffle

79: Mexican hot chocolate from La Oaxaqueña

78: Meatball sandwich from Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe

77: Cheesecake from Zanze's

76: Chicken pepian at San Miguel

75: Macau iced coffee at Vega/Special Xtra

74: Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch

73: Hai Ky Mi Gia's duck leg noodle soup

72: Sauerbraten at Walzwerk

71: Boudin noir at Cafe Bastille

70: Blackstrap molasses gingerbread at Lotta's Bakery

69: Plow's crispy potatoes

68: Prospect's Catcher in the Rye

67: Pork banh mi from Little Vietnam Cafe

66: Nakaochi at Ippuku

65: Sidekick's chocolate spritzer

64: Farmhouse Culture's horseradish-leek sauerkraut

63: Destination Baking Co.'s challah

62: Cotogna's roasted carrots

61: Hard Knox Cafe's chicken and waffles

60: The Rebel Within from Tell Tale Preserve Co.

59: The Slanted Door's Whiskey Cocktail

58: Carnitas burrito from Taqueria San Francisco

57: Sakura mochi from Benkyodo

56: Birria at Gallardos

55: BBQ pork skewers at Fil-Am Cuisine

54: JapaCurry's katsu curry

53: Vegan flan at Gracias Madre

52: Cinderella Bakery's pelmeni

51: Locavore's maple andouille sausage

50: Lumpia from Hapa SF

49: Moonlight Brewing's Reality Czeck

48: Filetti pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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