Bronx Eats: Seriously Tasty $1 Pupusas on 167th Street and Grand Concourse
Like all right-minded people, we here at Serious Eats love a good pupusa. Griddled corncakes, thick like a pancake, stuffed with a savory, waistline-be-damned filling—what's there to complain about? You'll find New York's most revered pupusas down at the Red Hook Ball Fields and plenty of good ones out in Queens, but the Bronx is no slouch either. There's El Atoradero in Mott Haven, Pupuseria Salvaderno in Castle Hill, and—now entering the ring—the East 167th Street pupusa stand.
I'd had these pupusas before, a little over a year ago, but the stand was smaller then, a one-griddle station, and the hours of its proprietor were more erratic. I'd forgotten about her in the intervening months until a recent stroll after an extended lunch. Now stationed on the northwest corner of 167th and the Grand Concourse, the cook has an older woman (her mother?) helping her out. Her digs have expanded, and she now sports a shopping cart stuffed with coolers and materials. As for those hours, you can safely assume that she'll be around on weekdays from late morning through the afternoon.
The pupusas are only available stuffed with chicarron con queso (fried pork belly and cheese), and at $1 they're the kind of cheap eat that makes you wonder why you'd pay double or triple the price for inferior versions elsewhere. Fresh off the griddle, with some black splotches and a seductively golden crust, they can compete with some of my favorites in the city. The pupusas are small, excellent for snacking, but more importantly they're perfectly formed: no ruptures in the side, no misshapen lumps, no spillage of filling. The melted cheese and shredded pork is salty, soft, and just rich enough. These are pupusas that are handled with love and care, a commitment you can see in the cook's eyes as she works.
Each pupusa comes with a generous heaping of curtido, a slaw of fermented cabbage that some would claim is the true star of the dish. Hers is so brilliantly magenta that you might feel some shame at eating it. But the bright flavor—tart and a little funky—and crunchy texture will make you forget all about those qualms. Say "yes" to hot sauce, which the cook's partner will squirt over your curdito. Fruity and invigorating, the chunky, habanero-centric sauce will leave a lingering, stinging heat on your tongue. It's excellent if uncomplicated, a hot sauce that won't define a dish but will add a tasty punch.
Despite all the foot traffic, there's precious little street street food worth eating around the Stadium. Besides the well-known Fauzia's Heavenly Delights, most of what you'll find are generic carts and hawkers pushing undistinguished alcapurrias and pastelillos. But these pupusas aren't just a consolation prize. They're ones we're happy to have, and are looking forward to having again and again. In fact, we spoke too soon when we declared the patties at Concourse Jamaican Bakery to be the best ultra-cheap eat near Yankee Stadium. These are.
167th Street Pupusa Stand (No Name)
Grand Concourse & East 167th Street, The Bronx, NY 10456 (map)
About the author: Chris Crowley is the author of the Bronx Eats column. Follow him on Twitter, if you'd like. In person, your best bet is the window seat at Neerob, or waiting in line at the Lechonera La Piranha trailer.