When your wallet is hurting (post-tax time, post-Christmas, post-bookie, post-divorce) and your stomach is being a demanding brat, follow the bouncing ball to ~BALOMPIÉ~. The soccer ball, that is. (You'll see it as the "o" in the restaurant's name.) Wander past the guys in the front bar busy watching soccer games on TV (and girls coming in) and throwing back some beers (some, a few too many), sit yourself down at the cheerful blue-and-white-checked-tablecloth tables in the dining room, and enjoy perusing a menu where everything hovers around $9. How refreshing.
But we're on a boojay, baby, so it's time to get seriously cheap. Balompié is El Salvadorian, so as your peruse the "platos tipicos" you'll see an array of pupusas offered, from corn to rice flour, and from ayote con queso (zucchini and cheese) to chicharrón (pork rind) to loroco, a little bud that is native to El Salvador and a traditional pupusa filling. Get this: the pupusas are $1.60 each, with a minimum of two (I think you can handle it). Take that, tacos! If you upgrade to chicken or shrimp and cheese, they're still only $2.50 apiece. Loco!
The pupusas here are fantastic, and I've had a couple El Salvadorian pals tell me they're the best in town: they're not greasy, they're perfectly grilled, and lip-smacking good when topped with some oregano-laden curtido (a marinated cabbage salad) and my own personal additions, some sour cream and Tapatio. Oh, and don't miss one of their imported Pilsener lager beers ($3)—they really hit the spot.
They also offer pastels ($4.75), a little half-moon corn pie of sorts, that come stuffed with chicken, beef, or shrimp. But here's the super-duper fabulous broke-ass deal: it's time to meet the #1 combo plate. For $7.50, you get your choice of a pupusa, a pastel, and yuca/yucca (steamed or fried), with a topping of chicharrón (uh, sold), beef, chicken, or fried fish. Squeeze a little lemon over the chicharrón, and you're in total porky-heaven. Yes, that is a place—bacon lovers know what I'm talking about. Life goes better with pork. Viva the other white meat.
I honestly can't say how the rest of the menu is. It certainly looks good: shredded beef with egg, garlic chicken, fried fish… there's even killer special: #2: two pupusas, rice, and beans for $6.75. They also serve some honking breakfast dishes, all $6.75, which include coffee, and a side of beans or casamiento (rice and beans).
The space is full of couples having dinner together, single guys digging into some home cooking, and even some gringas like me. Say hola to the guys at the bar, and go while you can, because you can only imagine how this place is going to blow up during World Cup in June. Gooooooooolllllllllllllll!
3349 18th St.
Cross: Capp St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Open daily 8am-9:30pm