Under $10: Carolina’s Mar Y Sol, Highland Park
Nestled in a strip mall; in picturesque Highland Park, sandwiched between what I suspect to be a rub and tug massage parlour, a laundry mat overrun by savage rogue children and an El Pollo Loco, is Carolina’s Mar Y Sol Restaurante. I don’t know a whole lot about Salvadorean dishes, but a sign outside promises $1.60 pupusas everyday, and I like pupusas. Also, I like a bargain even though I am always hesitant to try things that have not been previously recommended.
A pupusa is like a sope, except stuffed with meat/cheese/bean mix
The little restaurant was dead, aside from the belligerent man loitering out in front asking me why I was taking pictures of the place. (Questioning which prompted me to order my food to go and not take pictures of the inside of the joint.) The place is small but has seven numbered sitting sections, a picture menu above the ordering window with no prices listed, and mirrors on both flanking walls. Overall, it is nice and clean. Carolina will gladly take Visa and MasterCard but will charge you an extra dollar for the service, so bring cash. The Menu for $1.60 pupusas includes 3 options: Revueltas, Frijol con Queso, and Mixtas. I ordered one of each, and for a little over 5 bucks and a 10 minute wait, I got a side of curtido, tomato sauce and a satisfactory meal.
Now the thing about curtido, like anything, it’s not always good. (This one was not, it smelled like feet, and not in a good way like a good aged cheese). It’s like sauerkraut or kimchi, the general idea of a pickled product is achieved but some are far better executions of the intended product than others. Also, most if not all Salvadorian dishes are not spicy. So the tomato sauce is just that, a watery non spicy tomato sauce. As for the pupusas. I was betting that the Frijoles con Queso/Bean and Cheese was going to be the winner, I was dead wrong. The Mixtas/which includes meat(pork) and cheese was by far the best. Revuelta which is a mixture of beans, cheese and meat was a close second and the beans and cheese were my least favorite. But oh boy did I love that Mixta! Next time I’m down there getting my “neck” massaged, I am going to pick up 3 mixtas pupusas.
SIDE NOTE: I picked up a printed menu for this Salvadorian/Mexican/American restaurant, and the regular prices for other pupusas are $2.25. Most combination plates are roughly $8.50. The food is a little on the pricey side, aside from the advertised discounted pupusas. Be advised.
Mar Y Sol Restaurante
6011 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Open 7 days a week, for breakfast lunch and dinner