Emporium Latino is a tiny, unassuming grocery store in Kensington Market that flies way under the radar, unless you're Latin American. Walk directly past the imported aliments and you'll see an older lady clasping her hands together to form a little piece of Salvadorian heaven.
If you've been living under a taco your entire life, the pupusa is a thick, handmade corn tortilla stuffed with your choice of filling and served with curtido, a tangy cabbage relish similar to coleslaw.
While you may be tempted to over think it, I often stick with the classic frijol y queso filling (cheese and refried beans), $2.99. You can't go wrong with the delicious combination of warm cheese and refried beans simultaneously dissolving in your mouth.
If a meal isn't a meal without a little meat, try the Revuelta (pork, cheese and refried beans), $2.99. It's just as tasty as the previously mentioned, but more flavourful thanks to the finely ground pork known as chicharrón.
Now there are two ways to eat a pupusa, with your hands or with a fork and knife. If you prefer the latter, chances are you'd be called a fresa (a snob) if we were in El Salvador. Luckily we're in Canada, so feel free to get your cutlery on.
Pupusas aren't the only thing this place does well. There's also the fried plantain with cheese ($2.99). It may sound odd, but the taste is anything but. The sweetness of the plantain works wonders with the layers of gooey cheese, which bury the starchy banana almost to non-existence. Just be sure to wash it down with an ice cold Jarrito or a Mexican Coke. You know, the kind made with cane sugar.
If your looking for perfect presentation or plates that aren't made from Styrofoam, you've come to the wrong place. Emporium Latino is all about the flavour. And just a little forewarning before visiting, they take their time here, so leave your North American values at the door.
Okay, so I've never been to El Salvador, but I once had a Salvadorian roommate and amidst all the drinking and late night salsa dancing, dude loved pupusas. And he loved them specifically at this place. It's not hard to see why.
Photos by Ike Ford