A mishmash of businesses lines Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission district. Every night of the week, cars hurtle down the road, the sound of laughter echoes through bars, and the aroma of a grilled dish lingers in the air. And just before the end of the evening, the locals head to # 2 in Panchita.
The Salvadoran restaurant at 3091 16th St. has been a Mission staple since 1989 where hundreds of handmade pupusas – its specialty – are prepared daily. A quick glance at the menu reveals about a dozen different types of pupusas with the revuelta – a mixture of pork, beans and cheese – as its best seller. And for around $ 8, hungry guests can order two pupusas topped with a generous pile of coleslaw and tomato salsa.
“When we opened they were $ 1.75… and now we’re doing two for $ 8 or three for $ 11,” said Doris Vargas, who runs Panchita alongside her mother and owner, Doris Campos. “They started out very cheaply and then over the years we’ve increased them by 25 cents or 50 cents. We want to keep it affordable.
In 2008, Campos began offering popular Pupusa offerings as a way to keep business afloat during the recession. Vargas remembers when his mother set up a grill just outside the restaurant that same year to “attract people” who walked along 16th Street Panchita No. 2 managed to get out of 2008 in one piece, and Campos has decided to keep the pupusa deals as the backbone of his business, and they don’t plan to raise prices anytime soon.