Guasalmex, 150 W. Holt Ave. (at Garey), Pomona
A pupuseria, a word that by the way is great fun to pronounce, is a restaurant that specializes in pupusas, a dish from El Salvador in which a doughy corn tortilla is filled with one or more items and cooked on a griddle. Pupuserias are rare in this area, but one that has some longevity is Guasalmex.
It’s been ensconced on Holt for at least a decade. The owners are a couple who hail from Guatemala (him) and Mexico (her), and the menu reflects those two cuisines as well as that of El Salvador, hence the combo name Guasalmex. (Their website and menu can be found here.)
I’ve eaten there a few times over the years and recently had dinner with two first-timers. It’s an unprepossessing place, small but comfortable. The menu is divided into three pages, one for each cuisine, as well as a beverages page.
Despite there being three of us, we only ordered off the Guatemalan and Salvadorean sections. From the former, the Atitlan Special ($10), a sampler of chorizo, tamale, plantains, beans and tortillas. From the latter, Special No. 8 ($8, pictured below), with a pupusa (pork, beans and cheese), plantains, rice and beans, and the pollo encebollado ($9), a plate of chicken sauteed with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes.
We liked everything to one degree or another, but the pupusa was the big hit. I think my friends would come back just for more of those. We also enjoyed the ball-sized bites of chorizo. The tamale, thick, a bit sweet and with the consistency of cornbread, was fine if you like that style but was our table’s least favorite item.
We also had and liked a couple of beverages, a strawberry mango smoothie ($4) and an ensalada, which is a Salvadorean fruit punch ($3).
One word of warning: They close at 7 p.m. most nights, although the staff didn’t say a word as we chatted obliviously until close to 8.