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Papusas: The Taco Alternative at Balompie Cafe

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"Balompie" kind of sounds like how I feel after eating too many papusas.

With all the talk about Mission Burritos and Taco Trucks, people tend to forget that Mexicans aren’t the only ones in the Mission cooking up delicious dishes from their homeland. Of course, there are a ton of Peruvian places around town these days and there’s that Venezuelan place on Valencia, but I think we should all take a moment to consider the Papusa: The humble meat and cheese stuffed corn flour pocket of love from El Salvador.

Although they’re harder to spot than some of the flashy taquerias, there are a couple El Salvadorian and Nicaraguan places serving up papusas in the neighborhood. There’s Doña Tere who serves them up on the sidewalk, street-food style. But my new favorite is Balompie Cafe at 18th and Capp. Traditional papusas like loroco con queso (some kind of mysteriously delicious Salvadorian vegetable with cheese) and chicharron con frijoles y queso (pork, beans, & cheese – duh, learn some Spanish, already) will only run you $2.50 apiece. They’ve even got specialty papusas like the Italiana with proscuitto and cheese for a buck extra. Served up with curtido, a Central American version of cole slaw (no mayo, lots of vinegar) and topped with salsa, a pair of these suckers will get you out the door for under 5 bucks and will fill you up enough to power through a successful happy hour.

Balompie Cafe Salvadorian Food
18th St at Capp st [Mission]
8am – 9:30pm
Balompie on Yelp

Photo via yelper Jon B.

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Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.