Chucherias Hondureñas: Excellent Pupusas in Daytona Beach

In Daytona Beach, just a few miles away from Johnny Rockets and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a teeny restaurant serves pupusas, pastelitos, and mondongo from a mobile home. At $5 a pair, the pupusas at Chucherias Hondureñas are the best I've had in quite awhile.

A yellow-tinged disk made with maize flour and stuffed with fresh cheese, the pupusa originated in El Salvador. Today, varieties abound throughout Latin America. The dish can be fried, stuffed with beans and chicharrón, or plopped alongside cabbage slaw.

At Chucherias Hondureñas, the greaseless orbs of corn flour are cooked on a flattop. Once finished, they are thick, dense, and nutty. The serving platter is bountiful -- smothered in refried beans, scattered with cheese, and served beneath avocado chunks.

Accompaniments are acidic: chimol (a tomato-and-cilantro salsa) and curtido (slightly fermented cabbage slaw). The result is a balanced dish, one that costs far less than the average Miami meal.

The restaurant succeeds for its delectable cuisine and its personable service. Butter cookies filled with dulce de leche are complimentary. (Our table received six.) Only seven tables occupy the modest locale, which is adorned with nicknacks and newspaper clippings. But the restaurant is moving out of its cramped quarters and opening at a bigger spot soon.

If you seldom drive to Daytona, sample local renditions in Miami. Pupusas are served at restaurants like La Pupusa Factory, El Atlakat, and Paseo Catracho. But, in this city, most pupusas are overwhelmed by mouth-coating grease -- a predicament that no amount of curtido or chimol can fix.

Which only makes the pupusas at Chucherias Hondureñas taste better. The best foods -- particularly those involving cheese and avocado -- are always worth driving for.

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Emily Codik