(Tied!) No. 3: Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar

Loroco and cheese pupusa at San Sivar
Loroco and cheese pupusa at San Sivar
ProfessorSalt.com

For my final pick of this year's 100 Favorites list, I chose an old favorite that I fell in love with at first try. I keep returning to Costa Mesa's Pupusería y Restaurant San Sivar because they make the best pupusas in Orange County.

These Salvadoran street-vendor snacks aren't generally described as "delicate" because the masa can be rather thick and clumsily formed, and their fillings greasy or uninspired. But at San Sivar, skilled hands pat out the dough into an impossibly thin, crisply-griddled case that delicately contains its filling of cheese, meats or vegetables without leaking.

Comparing them to a quesadilla, gordita or mulita isn't exactly wrong, but neither is it accurate. Where those Mexican dishes are typically dosed heavily with fillings, this pupusa uses just enough to flavor the dish and tie the crispy, chewy, meaty and gooey textures together. Topping each piping-hot bite with the chilled, crunchy, red-pepper-flecked cabbage slaw called curtido adds yet more contrasts: that of temperature, and of slightly sweet-sugared vinegar tartness cutting the richness of ground pork and melted cheese.

You'll have a choice of classic fillings like cheese, chorizo, chicharrón, squash blossom, and another flower-blossom vegetable called loroco, and different combinations of these. You'll have the option to have your pupusas made with the usual corn masa, but get at least one pupusa de arroz, made with rice flour dough. The rice pupusas cook up even crisper and have even more texture contrast.

But eat them right away. Like a thin-crusted pizza napoletana, a pupusa has a half-life of two minutes before its own steam heat sends the fleeting, crispy crust irretrievably downhill.

Click here for our 100 faves from 2010!

The list so far this time around:

No. 4: Deep Dish from Tony's Little Italy Pizza
No. 5: Taquiza from Soho Taco
No. 6: Osso Bucco Pasta at Cafe Hiro
No. 7: Barbacoa de Borrego at Los Chilangos
No. 8: Prime Burger at Morton's The Steakhouse
No. 9: Sesame Chicken Salad at Sage Cafe
No. 10: Hawaiian Sausage And Eggs at Break of Dawn
No. 11: $4.95 Breakfast at Da L'uau
No. 12: Nem Nuong Cuon at Dat Thanh
No. 13: Cupcakes from Island Cupcakes
No. 14: Pork Chop Bun at J.J. Bakery
No. 15: Chilaquiles at Taqueria Zamora
No. 16: Crispy Fried Chicken at Pizza & Chicken Love Letter
No. 17: Antipasto Sandwich at A Market
No. 18: Pâté Chaud at Au Cœur de Paris
No. 19: The O.C. Burger at Burger Parlor
No. 20: Chicken Pie at La Palma Chicken Pie Shop
No. 21: Mac and Cheese at Ecco
No. 22: Almond Croissant at Layer Cake Bakery
No. 23: ABC Burger at Peter's Gourmade Grill
No. 24: Tripas Tacos at Alebrijes Grill
No. 25: Happy Hour Pho at Pho Thanh Lich
No. 26: Longsilog at Manila Groove
No. 27: Paletas from Nevería Flor de México
No. 28: Any Bánh Mì at Bánh Mì Cho Cu
No. 29: Cheeseburger at TK Burgers
No. 30: Peanut Butter and Jealousy Burger at Slater's 50/50
No. 31: Beef Noodle Soup at Twin Dragon at the Block
No. 32: Bun Cha Hanoi at Pho Quang Trung
No. 33: Blintzes at Moscow Deli
No. 34: White Pizza at La Rocco's
No. 35: #4 at Pieology
No. 36: Veggie Special with Chicken at Chicken Dijon
No. 37: Foie Gras Nigiri at AnQi
No. 38: Short Rib Grilled Cheese at A Restaurant
No. 39: Garlic Artichoke Croissant at Blackmarket Bakery
No. 40: Nuco Mia at New Duc Huong
No. 41: Mantu at Chili Chutney
No. 42: Dipped Italian Beef Sandwich at Portillo's
No. 43: Spicy Wontons at A & J Restaurant
No. 44: Saffron Rice Pudding at Wholesome Choice
No. 45: House Special Pork with Sauteed Kimchi at Koba Tofu Grill
No. 46: Seared Artichokes with Lemon Aioli at Il Garage
No. 47: Green Curry With Pork at Papaya Thai Bistro
No. 48: Mongolian Hot Pot at The Red Pot
No. 49: Beef Rolls at 101 Noodle Express
No. 50: Tlacoyo at El Borrego Sagrado
No. 51: Hard-Shelled Taco at Avanti Cafe
No. 52: Special-Events Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Old Vine Cafe
No. 53: A Big Ol' Plate of Rice With Must-o-Musir at Wholesome Choice
No. 54: Pork Souvlaki at Kentro's Greek Cuisine
No. 55: Toum at Sasoon Chicken
No. 56: Bacon Hash Dog at Berkeley Dog
No. 57: Blueberry Donut at M & M Donuts
No. 58: Tempura Fried Poached Egg at Break of Dawn
No. 59: Mulitas from Tacos Y Mulitas Ruben Truck
No. 60: Pho Ga from Pho Quang Trung
No. 61: Panuchos from Conde Cakes
No. 62: Sandwich and Egg Cream from Benjie's
No. 63: Margherita from TJ's Woodfire Pizza
No. 64: Macaroon at Disneyland
No. 65: The Sputnik at Rick's Atomic Cafe
No. 66: Corn Dog from Disney California Adventure's Corn Dog Palace
No. 67: Bacon Fried Rice at The Loft Hawaiian
No. 68: Charcuterie and Cheese at SideDoor
No. 69: Burger (With Duck Confit) at Watermarc
No. 70: Korokke Pan at Cream Pan
No. 71: Chorizo and Quail Egg on Toast at Sol del Sur
No. 72: Fried Brussels Sprouts at 320 Main
No. 73: G-Style Fries at G Burger
No. 74: Fried Cuttlefish at Benley
No. 75: Roti at Bangok Taste
No. 76: Wet Burrito at 301 Cafe
No. 77: Pork Curry at Miyabi-Tei
No. 78: Bánh Tieu at Bánh Mì So 1
No. 79: Any Sandwich at the Crosby
No. 80: Fish Pho at Pho Vinh Ky II
No. 81: Quesadilla Chilanga at Alebrije's Grill
No. 83: Nem Nuong Cuon at Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
No. 84: Wild Boar Balinese Sausage at Valhalla Table
No. 85: Comida Corrida at Taquería La Raza
No. 86: Breakfast Burrito at Troy's Drive-In
No. 87: Mandoo at L&M Liquor and Deli
No. 88: Chicago Dog at Chicago Harv's
No. 89: Sweet Potato Tater Tots at Pee Wee's Famous
No. 90: Kaya-Stuffed French Toast at Chomp Chomp
No. 91: Egg Breakfast at Rick's Atomic Kitchen
No. 92: Sticky Rice With Chicken at Quan Hy
No. 93: Beef Koobideh at Hen House Grill
No. 94: $5 Fish Bento at Bentoss
No. 95: Milanesa Sandwich at Piaggio's Gourmet on Wheels
No. 96: Samurai Burrito at Wafu of Japan
No. 97: Carnitas Gordita at Bodega R Ranch Market
No. 98: Spam Musubi at k'ya Street Fare
No. 99: Tortilla Andorra at Anepalco's
No. 100: Lemongrass Chicken, Extra Spicy at Vietnam's Pearl

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Pupuseria San Sivar

1940 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

949-650-2952

www.san-sivar.com


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