Eating Vegan at Salvadoran Restaurants

By Lucia Rivera,
VRG Intern

Pupusas, beans,
yuca, plantains, and more await vegan eaters at Salvadoran restaurants. While
most restaurants that serve cuisine from El Salvador offer options with meat,
vegetarians and vegans can also have delicious options to try.

     One of the staple dishes of Salvadoran
cuisine are pupusas, thick tortilla-like griddle cakes filled with a variety of
mixtures, ranging from beans to loroco (an edible flower). Pupusas are the
national dish of El Salvador and can be the main meal when dining out at
Salvadoran restaurants.

For vegans eating
at Salvadoran restaurants, one can order bean pupusas, or pupusas filled with
other vegetable options. Some Salvadoran restaurants, like Chévere in
Sacramento, California even offer especially made vegan pupusas with jackfruit
and vegan cheese filling. As a topping to pupusas, vegans and non-vegans alike
can enjoy curtido, a pickled cabbage slaw topping.

The beans in pupusas are usually cooked with vegetable oil, but some restaurants might use lard. To make sure, it is always best to check with the chef to inquire about what ingredients are in their bean pupusas.

     Besides pupusas, there are several vegan
side options that are commonly served at Salvadoran restaurants. One of these
is fried yuca, also known as cassava in other parts of the world, which is a
white starchy root. Fried yuca is a great vegan option as it is usually fried
in vegetable oil. While you can always check with the chef of a restaurant to
make sure, yuca is generally fried in vegetable oil throughout Central America
because vegetable oil is much more easy to transport and cheaper to buy in
large quantities than lard.

     Additionally, fried plantains are a great
side to go with yuca and pupusas! Plantains are also generally fried in
vegetable oil. Even if one ordered bean pupusas, a side of black beans can be a
perfect final addition to one’s meal at a Salvadoran restaurant.

For more
information on Latin American eating, see

https://www.vrg.org/journal/CookingAndRecipes.htm#cr-ethnic-cuisine