A slice of home... offered to Sunnyside diners by South American family


Eighty-year-old Josefina Landaverde (far left), granddaughter Suleyma Abrams and daughter Elizabeth Flores work side by side Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Sunnyside's Pupuseria Restaurant. The local restaurant serves authentic Salvadoran food.

El Salvador conjures up beautiful memories for the Landaverde family. They say the food and ocean views are what they miss the most.

But when a war in El Salvador hit too close to home the Landaverde family decided it was time to move on.

The family of 13, including 80-year-old matriarch Josefina Landaverde, packed their bags in 1983 and headed for the United States.

The family made their start in Los Angeles, Calif., and began looking for work. Because employment was difficult to find in L.A., the family eventually settled in Sunnyside.

They got their start working in area warehouses. Eventually Iris Alvarez, a daughter of Landaverde, opened a daycare center.

But the true American dream for Landaverde was always to have a restaurant of her very own.

After years of working and saving money, it was finally time to fulfill that dream. And it was only natural, considering how much the family missed eating authentic Salvadoran food, that their new eatery specialize in the cuisine to which they had once become accustomed.

Alvarez and her husband Carlos opened a restaurant last year, March 26, called the Pupuseria Restaurant in a strip mall near the Sunnyside Wal-Mart.

The food is cooked to order, even the tortillas. It's owned and operated by three generations of the Landaverde family, including the matriarch herself, her two daughters Alvarez and Elizabeth Flores, and two granddaughters, Suleyma Abrams and Nataly Alvarez.

With nearly a year under their belt, the local restaurant is widely known for a Salvadoran specialty, pupusas.

The specialty food is made with masa hand rolled and stuffed with finely ground meat, along with other ingredients of the customers' choice. The pupusas are also served with a salsa especially made for the dish, and a salad much resembling a pickled salad, called curtido.

"Everything is made the Salvadoran way," said Abrams.

Even the tamales are made much differently than their Mexican counterparts. Salvadoran tamales are made with plantain leaves. For breakfast, Salvadorans eat fried plantains with beans and cream. In addition, they also serve "empanadas de platano," a deep-fried dessert with plantains and rice pudding.

But the above mentioned dishes are just a few of the specialty recipes served at Pupuseria Restaurant.

"We make everything our way," added Abrams.

She says all the recipes are original and come from her grandmother, Landaverde.


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