Sunday, October 30, 2011

Greetings From Boulder: Pupusas Sabor Hispano

In my meager two years of blog-existence, I've yet to write anything about Boulder. I know Boulder is considered an important city when it comes to eating one's way around the Front Range, but for whatever reason--while not exactly avoiding it--it never seems to make it into my eating plans. Boulder is beautiful, of course, with panoramic views of the Flatirons and picture-perfect tree-lined streets. The people too are radiant, each seeming trimmer and younger than the one prior.
In fact it is so idyllic in this foothill fantasy-land that it has been given any number of silly labels and rankings from various media outlets, claiming tops in everything from America's "Happiest" City to its "Foodiest"; and of course it is everyone's favorite "Triathlon-running-ist" town. And if all that isn't sickening enough for anyone outside of its fit, contented borders it is also one of the "Brainiest" and "Healthiest" cities according to one magazine or another--meaning even with all that good food the average Boulderite is intelligent enough to enjoy it in moderation--or at least wake up early and do calisthenics.


I'm sure by now I've managed to piss off just about everyone in Boulder--or at least those without any sense of humor--but I digress (deeply and possibly regrettably so), because what I set out to write about is a speck of color and flavor in the otherwise snow white town (88% by last count) where once landed Mork. What I am  referring to is Pupusas Sabor Hispano, that I manged to fortuitously find while driving back from a wedding in Niwot.

Leaving said wedding (of my friend who conceived the name of this blog) and heading South on Highway 36, I joked to my wife that I was going to stop in Boulder--I believe these were my exact words: "To look for some tacos." I turned South on Boulder's Broadway despite her almost taunting laughter and within several blocks came to a screeching halt in front of Pupusas Sabor Hispano.


Granted, Pupusas are not tacos, but this I figured, was close enough. As the saying goes, when in Boulder, taco-seekers can't be choosers.

I have to say that I was not expecting great things. Again, we were on Broadway in Boulder not E. Colfax in Denver, and this part-Mexican, part-Salvadoreño restaurant was fully catered to the local population, replete with gaudy parrots, Diego Rivera replicas and even a mini-sized version of a yellow casa serving as entrance to another dining area that was intended, I imagine, to give one the pleasant illusion of dining in some idyllic tourist town like San Miguel de Allende.


But I will say that the staff was incredibly friendly (something harder to find at times on Colfax) and Spanish-speaking. And they did not roll their eyes given that we strolled in at five minutes to closing.

We ordered two pupusas with chicharron. Of course. The chicharron in a typical pupusa is pressed and grilled in a way that it becomes a delectable paste of twice-fried, smashed pork skin. (Those words sound so delicious that they merit re-writing: "Twice-fried, smashed pork skin.") It is amazing and undoubtedly the best way to enjoy pupusas, although at Sabor Hispano there was too little of it--either that or it was overwhelmed with the queso. Nevertheless it was a respectable pupusa, and I savored every bite, still smiling at my dumb luck in finding this place.


The rajas con queso also was heavy on the queso, and the rajas, or thin strips of green chile (or bell pepper of some sort) were not spicy in the least. Even doused in the traditional Salvadorean slaw and sweet tomato salsa, this was least favorite of the pupusas we had that night.


The calabaza, or zucchini pupusa was completely overrun with cheese flavor, but of the three was cooked the best, with bits of browned cheese on the edges and more crispy, browned spots on the masa itself. The over-cheesing, which seemed to run rampant that late night at Sabor Hispano, was especially unfortunate in this case because it completely drowned out the delicate flavor of the calabaza.

Calabaza in the top left corner. Apologies for the bad pictures.

I know the Boulder food craze is centered around its award-winning fancy foodie fare, but to me restaurants like Pupusas Sabor Hispano are at the heart of any town claiming a "food scene". And although these cheese-heavy pupusas were not the best I've had around Denver, it was at least a pupusa, which in the grand scheme of eating is in itself a good thing. I can't wait to see what I happen across next time I find myself wandering aimlessly (that is how I usually wander) again through the dark streets of Boulder.

Pupusas Sabor Hispano on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. I'm a Boulderite and not in the least offended. We know that Boulder is a pretty special place (even if not all of us are particularly special), and we do have a tendency to be smug -- which I suppose calls for an apology of some kind. But I lived in pre-gentrified Hoboken, NJ, for 14 1/2 yrs before moving to Boulder. I didn't apologize for Hoboken which made a lot of Worst lists and I won't apologize for Boulder because it's often on a Best list.

    But I digress. My husband and I ate at Pupusas Sabor Hispano several before it moved to the classy new digs you found. It opened as a real hole in the wall across Broadway and down a few doors. We always enjoyed the people & the food. I didn't blog every single visit in those simpler Pupusas times, but here are a couple of once-upon-a-time posts that you might enjoy: http://j.mp/tRe18S and http://j.mp/s59J9S. -
    Claire

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had trouble locating the chicharrons when I ate there. It was bad enough my mother in law questioned them if there was even any in the pupusa. Also next time you may want to try the empanada, it was pretty good.

    ReplyDelete

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