La Macarena Pupuseria & Latin Café
8120 Hampson Street
New Orleans, LA
Pupusas, a Colombian corn patty stuffed with meat or cheese fillings, are a rather new quantity to me. I first sampled a pupusa nearly a year ago, the very day I returned from four months in India, arrived in the gleaming terminals of San Francisco International Airport. We picked up our car and drove through the Mission to get something to eat, and I remember being struck by how few people were around - and I also remember being extremely happy to be somewhere where such as thing as Latino culture existed, back in a land that actually had Mexican food and Colombian food and everything in between. We stopped in at one of the neighborhood's many pupuserias and enjoyed a cheese and beef pupusa: as a life-time corn cake lover, I thought it was delicious. (I enjoyed the Colombian style garlic chicken just as much.)
In any case, I was happy when La Macarena opened up: what a convenient way to learn a little more about Central and South American cuisine. The owners also made an excellent tactical choice in serving corn-and-cheese filled concotions very close to two major universities. Well played.
These sun dried tomato and spinach pupusas were pretty tasty, although rather shrimpy compared to the specimens I've encountered in California. They're hand-made and griddled to order here, which means an order can take a while out. The melty texture and nice cornmeal flavor make a little extra time worth it. I also like the clear Colombian (?) slaw and spicy, slightly salty salsa served alongside.
This salad came with pulled beef brisket and plenty of slaw, along with olives, romaine hearts, and a variety of mixed vegetables. The brisket was definitely tasty and meaty, and had been cooked just long enough to fall apart but before toughness set in. I used the Colombian salsa instead of the provided garlic dressing and rather regretted my decision: things got pretty salty by the time I finished this not-inconsiderably sized beast. Still will order again.
The menu features a variety of entrees as well as pupusas: the garlic shrimp are humongo and looked very tasty indeed. This is a family run place and it shows, as service can be a bit uneven (if earnest) and food takes a healthy amount of time to come out. Brunch is offered on weekends with some interesting looking egg dishes. BE FOREWARNED: this place is cash only. Don't say I didn't warn you.