El Tazumal certainly beats El Zocolo and out shines Balompe.
I know, I know, Ive said this SO many times before, but, truly the best pupusas Ive ever had. These are in a whole different class.
Last summer, I went on a pupusa crawl and after about seven restaurants I burnt out on pupusas. NOT another pupusa, I think. However, I walk in, and there are huge jars of curtido, that slaw for pupusas on every table. This tells me try the pupusas.
And on that first visit, my head is snapping left and right as these amazing dishes are being set on tables.
This San Pablo restaurant is always packed with families on weekends. I learned that Richmond has a large community from El Salvador. El Tazumal does a healthy business during the week as well with lots of take out orders. Last weekend they celebrated their anniversary with mariachis.
The pupusas are lighter in texture than others Ive tried and absolutely greaseless. The interior melted in my mouth and at last a loroco pupusa that had the artichoke taste of these Salvadoran flowers. You could remove as much of the mild fresh curtido as you wanted from the jar with black plastic tongs. The curtido flavor was a perfect combo with these pupusas. No salsa rosa, that thin tomato sauce. However nice chips came with smoky chipotle salsa.
I highly recommend a drink called Ensalada. This is a bright yellow fruit drink that has minced fresh fruit like orange, mango, papaya, etc. This is the first excellent version Ive had of this drink. Other places Ive tried this at had canned fruit cocktail in the drink, ick. El Tazumal has fresh fruit.
They also do a Salvadorian horchata which looks like an iced coffee with cream. Looking around the web it seems that Salvadorian horchata can contain ground, toasted nuts, seeds and spices, like sesame seeds, Salvadoran pumpkin seeds, peanuts, cashews and cinnamon. Dont know the actual ingredients, but, I didnt like it as much as regular horchata. The Arrayan aqua fresca, which is made from a Central American guava like fruit, was the best I have tried.
On another visit I had the Bistec Salvadoreno, a large thin steak stewed with tomatoes, onions and green and yellow bell peppers. Also the best version Ive had of this dish. It comes with a fluffy saffron colored rice with carrots, smooth, almost chocolatey refried beans, two thick plump tortillas, hot off the griddle and a forgettable salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
Again ... the best version of chilate con nuegados. Chilate is a hot drink made of masa that always seems to be served in a coconut shell. The Nuegadoes are crispy pancakes made of yucca and they sit on top of a yam/plaintain mixture cooked in a maple syrup type of sauce. Usually the sauce is too sweet and disgusting.
At El Tazumal, the soft plantains and yams were mixed with whole cinnamon sticks and cooked in a lightly sweet syrup which gave the fruit a mahogany color. The killer was that yucca fritter, the size of a regular pancake, wonderfully golden, crusty and crisp outside and fluffy and almost nutty in the center. I dont think Im ever going to like chilate though. It always reminds me of thick dishwater.
The chilate was one of those dishes that caught my attention as I saw it pass by. Another dish I never intended to try again, but it looked so good.
I havent yet tried the plump golden Salvadoran tamales yet, but they are next on my list. Oh and the tostadas amazing looking cd sized discs piled high with meat, lettuce, beans sour cream, guacamole and salsa.
Surprisingly, the French fries looked excellent. They also have regular sandwiches like club sandwiches (with jalapeño). They also had a teriyaki chicken sandwich with jalapeño. They even have salads like chef, cobb and Caesar. Based on the little side salad, Id say skip the salads.
Theres a whole Mexican menu. Of course there are the usual Salvadoran dishes. There are daily soup specials. What can I say, these huge bowls look tasty too. Breakfast is served which includes Huevos Rancheros with fresh ranchero sauce.
The special today was consume of garrobo. I thought, Ill just look it up on the web. Well, it is either carob or an iguana type of creature. Anyone have a clue which of these El Salvadoran would make into a consume?
It looks like the restaurant was at one time a fast food place (there is an abandoned drive thru window). The décor seems to have changed little. There is a large screen tv that has played Latin music videos. My goodness those Latino girls can samba. I tell you, they seem like a whole different gender.
There is a huge flag of El Salvador in the kitchen. I thought it was sweet that the place was also decorated with red, white and blue Fourth of July decorations.
El Tazumal is El Salvadors largest pyramid. A picture of it is on the take out menu. They also do catering.
14621 San Pablo Ave
San Pablo, Ca.
Horas de Servicio
Lunes a Viernes 10 am 9 pm
Sabados y Domingos 9 am 9 pm
While looking up descriptions of Ensalada, I found links to these three El Salvadoran places I dont remember seeing mentioned on Chowhound. One is a fairly new Snack place in Sunnyvale.
1449 Fruitvale Ave. (at International Blvd.), Oakland.
They have semita, a pineapple-filled coffee cake
907 E. Duane Ave. No. 3, near Lawrence Expressway, Sunnyvale
IMO, the best to worst pupusas in the Bay Area.
El Tazumal (San Pablo)
Kaliente (El Sobrante)
Rincon Lation (tie -corn pupusa)
El Zocolo (tie - rice pupusa)
El Zocolo - corn pupusa
Los Planes de Renderos in SF
La Pechangueria taco truck (yuck)