El Salvador isn’t only teeming with jungly hills, painted streets, and swell – filled beaches, and your visits wont solely have you stuck on the roar from the waterfalls, the steep volcano you just trudged up, or the terrifying zipline run you recently flew down. In El Salvador, your fixation will be food.
With palletes evolving from the ancient Mayan and Aztec foodie foundation, the Salvadorian people have built upon simple recipes to create authentic, fresh, filling dishes wrapped in a whirlwind of sauces, spices, and exciting ingredients. Let's eat!
Various types of seafood are used in most Salvadoran dishes. Coastal town piers stuffed to the brim with fresh catches wait patiently for local restaurant and home buyers, containing variations of fish, calamari, shrimp, clam, crab, lobster, and more. There are an immense amount of authentic seafood dishes to try in El Salvador, and with ceviches, fried stuffed fish, lobster and shrimp cooked in butter, and paella dishes being among the most popular.
ceviche de camarones - mixed bowl of typically lime, lemon, avocado, tomato, onion, chili pepper and lime-cooked shrimp.
pescado renello de camarones – stuffed fish with shrimp, usually used with a cream sauce and breaded or grilled, usually al ajo (with garlic).
paella – rice dish made with seafoods such as lobster, shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels, sea crab, and spices.
Soups are a popular lunch or dinner meal, and include many variations of hearty beef mixtures. Sopa de pata is made from tripe, cow’s feet, yuca, corn, plantains, beans, tomatoes, and cabbage cooked with lemon juice and cilantro.
Mariscada – seafood soup containing fish, clams, octopus, squid, shrimp, and crab.
Sopa de res - made from beef shank, beef bone with meat, carrots, plantain, corn, potatoes, zucchini, and many other ingredients.
Opa de gallina india - chicken broth with vegetables, sometimes containing lorocos and cream.
Pupusas could very well be the main reason to visit El Salvador. With recipes stretching back to ancient Pipil tribes, these savory, stuffed maize-flour pancakes are the most affordably delicious meals you’ll come across. Mixing quesillo (a soft cheese), refried beans, and variations of different meats, combinations of pupusas will have you stuffed. These dishes are served with a type of slaw called curtido, made of cabbage, vinegar, and chili, as well as typically accompanied by a fresh salsa. Pupusas are so good that El Salvador and Guatemala both fought for them as the originator of these tasty morsels. In case you were wondering, El Salvador won.
Pupusa Revuelta - the mother lode of pupusas - a mixture of the cheese, refried beans and chicharrones (specially-prepared pork).
Pupusa de queso y loroco - contains cheese and also loroco - a vine flower popular amongst Salvadorians.
Pupusa de queso - cheese-filled, typically accompanied by green chilis.
Fruits and bases with sugary accompaniments are main drinkable delicacies in El Salvador. Horchata, the sweet, creamy beverage made from rice milk and cinnamon, is prevalent throughout the country, as well as fresh-cracked coconuts from street-side stands. Also popular are your everyday sugared sodas, tamarind juice, which can be made from the dried pods grabbed from beneath flourishing tamarind trees, and minutas – shaved ice with fruit flavored syrup.
Must – try
Atol de Elote – warm, sweet, thickened drink with corn as main ingredient. A staple drink of the holidays.
Vinagre de piña - drink or vinaigrette mixed with piloncillo (pineapple trimmings) and water.
Ensalada – chopped fruits ground to a creamy, drinkable treat.
But Wait, There's More
There are so many traditional dishes to cover in El Salvador. The pan con ajo is one of our favorites, chicken sandwiches smothered in gravy served with tomato and watercress. Or the yuca fritas, the Salvadorian version of a French fry. We recommend that you try everything, and everything below!
carne guisada - beef smothered in sauce with potatoes and carrots
pacaya planta - palm flowers breaded in cornmeal, fried and served with tomato sauce
lomo entomatado - beef with tomatoes
yucas fritas - fried cassava root, Salvadorian-style fries
carne asada - grilled steak typically accompanied by chimol (Salvadorian salsa)
pasteles de carne - meat pies
pollo guisado con hongos - chicken with mushrooms
pavo salvadoreño - roast turkey with sauce, often eaten for Christmas
What's your favorite Salvadorian dish? We want to know! Leave a comment below, and if you have any questions, recommendations, or just want to say what's up, contact us and we're happy to talk about all your burning desires.