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Salvadoran Restaurants to Compete in Pupusa Cookoff

Five Montgomery County restaurants will compete for the title of 'Best Pupuseria' at the World of Montgomery Festival on Oct. 21.

If you need another reason to come to the World of Montgomery Festival in Wheaton on Oct. 21, let it be for the pupusas, those fried corn-dough pockets of cheese, pork and beans.

Five Salvadoran restaurants in Montgomery County will be competing in a pupusa cookoff, with festival goers as the judges. Here's how it works: buy a $5 ticket online or at the festival, sample pupusas from each restaurant, and vote for your favorite.

Tasting and voting will go on from 12-3 p.m. The winner will be announced at 3 p.m., but pupusas (and other Salvadoran food) will continue to be sold until the end of the festival.

Here are the names of the restaurants in the competition:

  • Los Cobanos, Wheaton
  • El Nopalito Grill, Silver Spring
  • Mogotillo Restaurant, Takoma Park
  • El Boquerón II, Rockville
  • La Frontera, Silver Spring

Patch spoke with Manny Hidalgo, the executive director of the Latino Economic Development Center and the orchestrator of the pupusa cookoff, to learn more about how this idea came into being.

Hidalgo traveled to El Salvador in 2011 with a Montgomery County delegation on a sister city trip to Morazan. "One night, they tried to teach us how to make pupusas," he said. "It was really hard, and we developed a whole new respect for how challenging it is."

What is the trickiest part of making a pupusa? "Getting the proportions just right," Hidalgo said, so that the pupusa doesn't explode.

A $1,000 prize will go to the winning pupuseria, and any money left over from the ticket sales will be split between LEDC and the private, nonprofit Montgomery County Sister Cities Inc.

"We're hoping to introduce a wider audience to the pupusa," Hidalgo said.

What kind of pupusas do you like? Have you eaten pupusas at any of these five restaurants? Tell us in the comments.

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More World of Montgomery Festival coverage from Wheaton Patch:

World of Montgomery Festival Returns with Help of KID Museum

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Editor's Note: LEDC has changed its official name from the Latino Economic Development Corporation to the Latino Economic Development Center. This story originally made a reference to LEDC's old name, but a correction has been made.

Commentous October 06, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Were they limited to 5 places? Los Chorros and Sergio's make great pupusas and would have been welcome additions to a Wheaton-based festival.
TaL October 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Where is Irene's? Or Samantha's for that matter (home of the monster pupusa)
Manny Hidalgo October 08, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Most if not all the major restaurants known for their pupusas were invited to compete and these were the 5 willing to put their pupusa making skills on the line. Let's see if the turnout on Oct 21st helps move the others to compete next year.

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