Having recently and temporarily moved to the Mission, I've commenced a thoroughly unsystematic survey of the basic local foodgroups. My findings thus far in the pupusa category:
Balompie: I love this place, especially on Sundays at lunch, when it's full of huge families eating enormous platters of fried stuff with sides of beans. The pupusas were delicious. Neither as crispy nor as greasy as the ones at Antojitos Salvadorenos, below, but plenty toasty on the outside with deep flavor from the fillings and a nice, crisp, vinegar-heavy curtido. I had one cheese and bean and one cheese and chicharron, and would be hard-pressed to say which I liked better.
Antojitos Salvadorenos: these were good too, and they came out hotter and crunchier than the ones at Balompie. The fillings (same as above) struck me as slightly less "round" tasting, but that might have been because the outsides figured so much more prominently in the total experience. Curtido was drier and more fermented than Balompie's--still good, but I missed the vinegar hit--and the red salsa was particularly great. Tangy and complex, with a little kick. This is the only one of the three where it seemed like it would be possible to order a single pupusa.
Usulutan: these were fine (again, same fillings), but distinctly less exciting than the others. Neither particularly crispy, nor particularly flavorful, and the curtido was mixed in with the red sauce, which significantly flattened the overall effect.
Prices at all three were about the same: around $4 for two, with the atmosphere at Balompie being, in my mind, a cut above.
Antojitos Salvadorenos Aminta
2578 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
3349 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
2990 24th St, San Francisco, CA