San Miguel Pupuseria brings Salvadoran food to Arcata

Pupusas are a food held close to the heart of a Salvadoran person. Jorgelina Granados and her son Gino Granados are serving the culture of El Salvador in Humboldt County. They opened San Miguel Pupuseria on April 10 at the Arcata Foodworks Culinary Center.

“My mom learned from her mom and my grandma learned from my great-grandmother, this has been in our family tree for many generations,” Gino said. “I imagine that for other Salvadoran people it is the same. Pupusas have been in our culture for a long time. If you read a little about the history of the pupusas, the Indigenous people of El Salvador — that’s where the pupusas started.”

Jorgelina is from San Miguel, El Salvador and she arrived in the United States around 1978. Jorgelina raised her two children alone in the United States. When it was time for her children to leave home and go to college she also decided to leave Los Angeles. During those years, she went to work for butcher companies in different states. Apart from those jobs she also cooked and sold pupusas on the side.

“I never thought that ‘oh I’m going to put something like this’ but pupusas have always been part of our life,” Gino said. “My mom wherever she went she made pupusas. In Oregon she made pupusas and sold them. In Nebraska, Kansas, Phoenix, she’s always made them. I look at it as a passion for her.”

Gino graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt in 2006 with a degree in marketing and business management and a minor in psychology. Gino mentioned that he had conversations about opening a business with his mother before and among others. Owner of Los Giles Osvaldo, Hernandez Sanchez, supported and motivated Gino to open San Miguel Pupuseria.

“I am very happy and not just because Gino is a dear friend of mine but I am very pleased that as Latinx we are progressing in this country, every new Latino business gives me a lot of happiness,” said Hernandez Sanchez. “My advice to Gino was not to give up, although at first it seems that it is something very difficult. I am convinced that we needed a pupusa business in our community. I’ve tried all the pupusas on the menu and my favorite pupusas are Cheese with loroco and chicharron with cheese, they are all delicious.”

At San Miguel Pupuseria you can order a bean, cheese, chicharron, jalapeno or loroco pupusa. There are also vegan options like vegan cheese and beans. As people order their pupusas they can be made with the available ingredients.

The main ingredient of a pupusa is loroco. Loroco is an edible flower and is also known as Fernaldia pandurata. This ingredient is highly used in El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries. Loroco is used in many forms but is most known to be one of the most important ingredients for an authentic pupusa.

“There was none of that here,” Gino said. “There’s more Latin food but it’s not diverse, there’s a lot of Mexican food, but more than that, I’m not sure what different food cultures there are.”

There are many types of food in Humboldt County, but what was missing was a Salvadoran pupuseria. The first day San Miguel Pupuseria opened Jorgelina made about 400 pupusas. She shhappy to receive so many good responses from her food.

“People ask me ‘oh what is your goal with this business?’ To go to different places where there is not much food diversity and open a place just like this in Redding, or Ukiah,” Gino said. “Places where we need to teach people of El Salvador culture.”

Gino wants to have a successful business and with time, expand San Miguel Pupuseria to have something more permanent-like a restaurant. 

“In the future when we are in a larger place we want to have fried yucca,” Gino said. “I’ve been playing with trying to make yucca fries like carne asada fries but yucca fries and more [meals] like tamales de elote, empanadas, pastelitos.”

You can locate San Miguel Pupuseria at 100 Ericson Court Unit 110. They are open Thursday and Friday at 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. For more information on San Miguel Pupuseria follow them on Instagram @puposeriasangiguel_humboldt. You can contact them by phone (707) 382-8915.

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