The first time I enjoyed the pupusas at Pupuseria Katarina, I did so in a small, spare dining room soon after the restaurant opened in 2014. The experience and the food were wonderful, but within a year the restaurant had closed. Fortunately, fans quickly learned that the closure was merely temporary as the owners prepared to reopen in a new location. Less than a mile away, the new setting, in the former home of Mexican Village, offers up the same great pupusas, but also an expanded menu of offerings dished up in a larger, more comfortable location.
Naturally, Pupuseria Katarina
(1409 Brookpark Rd., 216-331-6624) excels at El Salvadoran pupusas, thick corn pancakes stuffed with various fillings and fried on a griddle. They offer a full slate of options, from simple cheese ($2.50) to “Pupusa Loca” ($9), which is kind of like the kitchen sink version stuffed with every filling on the menu. Simpler is better, in my opinion, with cheese or maybe cheese, beans and pork rising to the top. Fried to order, the pupusas arrive hot, crisp and corny. As is customary, they are served with curtido
, a cool, bright and crunchy cabbage slaw, and salsa roja
, a thin, mild tomato sauce.
As good as those pupusas are, do try and venture beyond them when visiting. Pupuseria Katarina serves breakfast all day, and it puts to shame the typical diner-style meal. One hunger-busting version combines housemade chorizo scrambled eggs ($12), seasoned rice, refried beans, a wedge of fresh farmer’s style cheese and a pair of warm, thick tortillas. Others swap in plantains and cheesy pupusas for the rice and tortillas.
The restaurant offers hearty main courses like shrimp in tomato sauce, grilled steak and onions, fried chicken, and whole fried fish, all of which include rice, salad and corn tortillas. On weekends, special items like menudo (beef tripe soup), hen soup, and beef stew make appearances. Wash it all down with one of the kitchen's refreshing housemade beverages ($2.50) made from tamarind, hibiscus, pineapple or mixed fruit.
Pupuseria Katarina is open every day but Monday.