“I take cabs all the time, and noticed that most cab drivers love to talk about food. Many are recent immigrants with distinct memories of food in their home countries; cabbies cover enough ground to eat pretty much anywhere they want,” explains pane. “For the past couple of months I’ve been asking for specific recommendations about restaurants and dishes and then eating as directed.”

One cabdriver told him that the Salvadoran restaurants around didn’t seem right. “He said that most Salvadoran places seem too fusion to him: it’s Salvadoran food cooked by Mexicans who know how a pupusa is constructed, but don’t know how it should taste.” So the driver recommended two places.

First is El Salvador Restaurant. It’s a pupuseria. The pupusas are quite good, with nice, crisp, browned exteriors, says pane. The curtido is very nice—quite tart and a bit spicy. Two pupusas, chips, and salsa run $4.50, but the chips are pretty unexciting, actually.

Second is Los Planes de Renderos, which is the cabdriver’s absolute favorite. He eats there every week. It’s small, it’s bustling, there are families everywhere, and it does a lot of takeout. And the food is exceptional. “I am no tamale expert,” says pane, “so take this how you will: this was the best tamale I’ve ever had. The dough was fluffy perfection. The filling was a combination of dark meat chicken, green olives and potatoes. I had a piece of bone and one olive pit in the tamale, but the deliciousness was well worth the choking hazard.”

El Salvador Restaurant [Mission District]
2278 Mission Street (between 18th and 19th streets), San Francisco

Los Planes de Renderos Restaurant [Excelsior]
12 Persia Avenue (near Mission), San Francisco

Board Link: Taxi Cab Recs: Salvadoran Food

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