Around the World in Houston: Discover El Salvador

Photo courtesy of Tamale Festival Houston

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

From hole-in-the-walls serving Salvadoran-style breakfasts and tasty pupusas to language meetups and Latin heritage festivals, here’s how to get a taste of El Salvador in Houston.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Houston Latin Fest Celebrate Latin heritage through music and dance, art, food, and drink at this multi-cultural festival.
  • Houston Latino Film Festival Enjoy cinema without borders at this non-profit film festival, which screens films from all over Latin America, as well as Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.
  • Tamale FestivalEach December, tamale season kicks off with this festive food and musical showcase, featuring a tamale eating contest, live music, and plenty of food and drink vendors offering tamales and festival eats. The 2018 festival is set for Saturday, December 1.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Institute of Hispanic Culture of Houston This local non-profit organization was founded in 1965 to preserve the richness of Hispanic culture and its language. Today, it serves the Hispanic community and provides various educational activities in collaboration with local universities and arts organizations.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston The Latin American Art collection boasts a core library of modern and contemporary art with more than 550 emblematic from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and works by Latino artists in the United States.
  • Talento Bilingüe de Houston Located in the East End, this bilingual, non-profit cultural center strives to enhance Houston’s Latino arts experience through collaboration, education, and preservation.

Salvadoran Food & Drink

Restaurants & Cafes

  • Antojitos Salvadorenos  Get caldo de gallina, lomo asado, Salvadoran-style breakfasts, and fat pupusas at this Telephone Road haunt
  • Buffet de Pupusas Salvadorean Kitchen This Hillcroft eatery offers a breakfast buffet, with a variety of pupusa and curtido relish, alongside coffees, fresco de ensalada, traditional breakfast favorites like plantains, beans and huevos rancheros, and specials like pane con pollo and Salvadoran Quesadilla.
  • Cafe Latino Panaderia Y PupuseriaPupusas are made fresh daily at this Northwest spot. Enjoy them alongside yuca frita, tamal de elote and pollo, carne guisada, and traditional pastries.
  • Campesino Coffee HouseHit this popular Montrose bungalow to sip horchata and chan alongside empanada and pisque tamales.
  • Dinora’s Bakery Y Pupuseria Up near Spring, Dinora’s all-day menu rocks authentic dishes like handmade pupusas, yuca con chicharron, tamale pisque, pan con gallina, mariscada, huevos con loroco, and traditional desayunos.
  • El Amanecer This cheerful West Little York café offers quick and authentic Salvadoran bites, from pupusa stuffed with camarones, frijoles and loroco to antojitos, aguas frescas and more.
  • El Papaturro Cocina Salvadoreña Head to the East End and you’ll find Salvadoran classics, from pupusa to creamy mariscada.
  • El Petate Get fluffy pupusa, Salvadoran enchiladas, and fried plantains at this Eastside haunt.
  • El Pupusodromo This mini-chain hosts a trio of locations, each offering traditions like enchiladas salvadoreñas, pastelitos de carne, tamales de elote, and tasty, thick pupusas filled with everything from zucchini and cheese to chicharron.
  • Gloria’s Latin Cuisine With a menu and concept dreamed up by El Salvador-born Gloria and Jose Fuentes, Gloria’s blends Salvadoran traditions with Tex-Mex additions. Hit the Midtown location to dine on handmade pupusas, platano frito, asado de puerco, and carne adobada.
  • Hawallano Restaurant Pupusas rellenas, arroz mariscado, and bistec encebollado are all on the menu at this popular Gessner spot.
  • La Azulita Restaurant & Pupuseria Head to this Northwest haunt to feast on tamal pisque, yuca con chicharron, mojarra frita, mariscadas and pupusa revueltas. Wash it all down with a horchata.
  • La Familia Restaurant & Pupuseria On West Little York, this cozy spot offers Salvadoran comfort foods, from caldo de pollo, and mariscada to homestyle pupusas and empanadas.
  • La Pupusa Alegre Head here for authentic Latin eats and colossal pupusas.
  • Mama Rosa PupuseriaMama Rosa rocks traditional fare, from Salvadoran breakfast plates and sopa de gallina to salpicon and queso con chicharron pupusa.
  • Panaderia Pupuseria Renderos Hit this Central American and Mexican panaderia and restaurant for authentic flavor and classic dishes, including breakfast plates, tamales de elote, yuca con chicharrón, carne asada and pollo encebollado.
  • The Pupusa Bar Dreamed up by a native Houstonian and chef from El Salvador, The Pupusa Bar has created a fresh, gluten-free and all-natural ingredient pupusa menu with a modern twist. Get them by the pair alongside pickled cabbage, crispy chips, and homemade verde and roja salsas.
  • Pupuseria Emanuel With two locations in South Houston, one on Telephone and a pupuseria and panaderia on East Edgebrook, Pupuseria Emanuel offers cheap and cheesy pupusa filled with things like squash, chicken, beans, and chicharron.

Grocery Stores

  • Fiesta Mart With locations around the city, Fiesta Mart is known to stock Hispanic foods and specialty items. Stroll the aisles to find things like fruit nectars, frijol de seda, and El Salvador’s own Diana brand snack food.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Habla Houston Learn to speak Spanish through weekly classes, interactive meetups and more.
  • Spanish over CoffeeBrush up on your Spanish language skills with all-level classes that help you learn through conversation. Program experiences include dinner parties, game nights, scavenger hunts, and grocery shopping.
  • The Houston Spanish Language MeetupThis meetup connects Spanish speakers of all levels, offering fun activities around Houston.
  • Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice Known as HACER for short, this Rice University student group sponsors social and cultural events.
  • Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is the leading advocate for Hispanic business and civic interests in the Greater Houston area, fostering networking and partnerships, organizing a wide array of programming, and identifying business opportunities.
  • Latin Women’s Initiative This nonprofit organization strives to make difference in the lives of Latin women and their families by providing both financial and volunteer support to several local nonprofit organizations in the Houston community.

Other Notables

  • BBVA Compass StadiumFútbol fans can get their fix at this EaDo soccer stadium, home to both the Houston Dynamo and the Houston Dash.
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .