Tag Archives: pupusa

Los Sartenes

taco trucks columbus

901 S. James Road
614.439.5308
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@lossartenes 

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Through our experiences with taco trucking, we’ve learned to be concerned for anyone that debuts in the cold seasons. Sad truth is, they don’t often last long enough to see the food truck friendly months. Los Sartenes opened a month or so ago – in the dead of winter – but we’d wager that they’ll experience a much kinder fate.

First off, this isn’t a low-budget operation.  It’s slick in the best sense of the word. From the tidiness of the kitchen to the conspicuous newness of the trailer to the impressive clarity of the menus (both posted and takeaway), it’s clear that much planning has occurred and that plans have been executed skillfully.

taco trucks columbus

At first glance, it almost spooked us a bit – we don’t often find the unadulterated flavors of Mexico coming from trucks with this level of refinement. Thankfully, the only sense in which our instincts were right were that, in addition to fine Mexican, Los Sartenes is also putting out some fine renditions of Central American fare as well. We started off with a couple of tacos – they passed our lengua test with flying colors – and then moved on to the following:

Traditionally a Salvadoran dish, the pupusa kicks off our exploration of the Central American side of the menu. Essentially a thick corn tortilla pancake filled with any of a variety of ingredients, a good pupusa is a great thing. We tried their cheese version and it was no exception.

salvadorean food

For a truck that defies expectations, their yuca dish epitomizes it. We’ve previously thought of yuca as a Brazilian root vegetable side dish, and something that’s mushy, starchy, and kind of inert. But then again, we’d never seen it served with generous chunks of fried pork belly, curtido, and sauce. They’ve upped the yuca game, folks.

interesting taco truck dishes

We were excited to see empanadas de platanos on the menu; they’re a favorite Salvadoran snack of ours, and hard to come by locally. Los Sartenes’ version didn’t disappoint – the empanada shell consists of a thick layer of mashed sweet plantain filled with a sweet soft cheese, and the whole shebang is fried and dusted with sugar. Don’t let the use of ‘sweet’ and ‘sugar’ deceive, though – while these are certainly dessert-worthy, they’re nonetheless fairly tame on the sweetness spectrum. And, they’re really good.

los sartenes taco truck

The menu is unusually extensive, and the fine folks that alerted us to their location (thanks Jeff & Pablo!) have mentioned a few other dishes that we need to try (the carnitas torta being first among them). Check these guys out, and let us know what you thought!

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Las Gaviotas Pupuseria & Taqueria

honduran food truck columbus

552 Norton Road
(in the Sunoco gas station lot)
Columbus, OH 43228
Usual hours: Thursday-Monday 11am-10pm

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Las Gaviotas (which means ‘the seagulls’) is a Honduran-owned truck serving pupusas alongside standard taco truck fare. We thought that the truck looked familiar and indeed it was – it’s the old Chapis taco truck in a new incarnation.

pupusa truck columbus

There is a choice of four flavors of pupusa and all were made from scratch upon ordering. They were the plumpest pupusas we’ve come across in Columbus and were dubbed the ‘double-stuffs’ of the pupusa world. We tried the cheese and bean and the cheese and chicharron. The cheese and bean filled pupusa was universally popular. We couldn’t find much evidence of pork skin in the chicharron pupusa but that may have been a good outcome.

honduran food in columbus

We really liked the curtido (pickled slaw). It was milder in flavor than some renditions and was a refreshing accompaniment on a hot day.

taco trucks norton road columbus

We tried the al pastor and buche tacos. The buche was very good, mild in flavor which suggests it has been carefully cleaned and prepared. The al pastor was pretty average. One notable thing is the tomatillo salsa looks fairly innocuous but is made with habanero peppers; delicious but not for the heat averse. Next up was a lengua gordita. The shell was prepared to order and was much less greasy than is often the case, but conversely the lengua was the greasiest we have had and the flavor suffered as a result.

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Taqueria y Pupuseria Salvadorena

In the parking lot of Monaco’s Palace & Catering
(now at the parking lot of 2400 E Dublin Granville Road)
614.622.2678
Open 3 pm-10pm Sunday to Thursday
Open 11 Am to “late” (2 AM or later) Friday and Saturday

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There is a growing number of non-Mexican food trucks (8th Taste, El Manantial, Pupuseria y Taqueria Usulateca, and Las Catrachas). The newest of these can be found on Cleveland Avenue, just North of Morse Road. The speciality is pupusas and there is a choice of six different fillings. Pupusas are $2 each. They take a little longer to make than tacos, as each is made to order, but they are worth the wait.

We tried the rebuletas pupusa. It had a nice crust and the filling was a steaming hot mix of meat, beans and cheese. As is traditional the pupusa came with a side of curtido, a spicy cabbage slaw. We could smell the vinegar when we approached the truck, but the flavor was not overpowering. It was some of the best curtido we have had.

The special weekend menu will feature tamales, plantains and some other Salvadorean specialities.  We’ll return soon to check out some of these as well as the rest of the daily menu.

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Pupuseria & Taqueria Usuluteca

987 E. Dublin-Granville Rd (Advance Auto Parts lot)
Open 7 days/wk, 11am-8pm(ish)

614.930.8219

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Note: Pupuseria & Taqueria Usuluteca is back from beyond, and they’ve upgraded to a new, fully mobile truck.  As the owners, operators, and menu remain unchanged, the vast majority of what we originally wrote about them below still remains true (our taste test today verified it).  Probably the most noteworthy change is the inclusion of both loroco and chicken & cheese options for the pupusas.

Elida and family were eager to inform us that last year, after having posted their truck here initially, they was tickled by all of the people (some apparently coming from as far as Cleveland) who visited after having read about them ‘on the computer’.  If you’re in the mood for trying Salvadorean cuisine, stop by PTA and let Elida whip up some pupusas for you (always from scratch).

There seem to be a couple of set approaches that taco trucks take towards developing their menus – one is to provide as much variety as possible, and the other is to specialize in a small number of offerings done unusually well.  This, of course, is not to say that the ‘jack of all trades’ trucks necessarily provide lower quality items, but rather to observe that it is imperative that the ‘minimalists’ do everything they do to a high level.

Enter Pupuseria Y Taqueria Usuluteca.  With their scant three options: pupusas, tacos, and quesadillas, they epitomize the ‘do a few things and do ’em well’ approach.

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For example, the pupusas – hand made to order, these Salvadorian corn cakes are filled with beans and cheese, grilled till crisp on the outside and served with a side of the traditional cabbage salad (called curtido).  The initial crunch gave was to a soft, chewy inside, and the subtle flavor scored well with all who tried it.  The curtido was dressed with a vinegary, slightly spicy red sauce and paired nicely with the rest of the dish.

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The tacos were equally satisfying, and revealed several differences that may be reflective of the Salvadorian origins of the owners. Unlike almost every other taco we’ve tried, the ingredients were placed on a single (though seemingly thicker than usual) tortilla, and were topped with a freshly made chunky salsa instead of the usual onions and cilantro.  We tried them with asada and pastor, and found all kinds of taco contentment in each.

PTU’s operators are friendly and eager to please, give ’em a visit if you’re in the area.

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Mr Grill Tacos

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1060 Georgesville Road (near SSA Office) and Growing Solutions Garden Center.

near Georgesville Road and Clime Road

614 732 2773

Open 10 am to 9 pm. Closed Wednesdays

The owners have had a truck here for 3 – 5 years but June 18th they upgraded to a new and bigger truck.

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Winter specials

Specialties include carne asada tacos, popusas, and migadas. There is a good choice of pickles and sauces. They also have a good range of agua frescas (tamarind and pineapple the day we were there) and excellent horchata.

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Chorizo and egg, pastor and lengua tacos

This is a busy truck and interestingly they serve Popusas (aka -pupusas -a Salvadorean dish) on the weekends. The pupusas come in cheese or meat and cheese and have a really good corn flavor. This is the only truck we have found that serves them and they are worth trying. Very satisfying and good value. The coleslaw is also really good. Light and refreshing and again this is something rare.

Mr Grill was one of the first places we noticed that offered corn or wheat tortillas and the price for the wheat (harina) tortillas is double that of the maiz.

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Popusas

For nostalgia sake – the old truck

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