Little piece of El Salvador big on taste, service

El Pulgarcito means Tom Thumb in Spanish, and this is a little piece of El Salvador in Lakewood. Nestled between a tattoo parlor and a pizza house, the restaurant is in the Ponders neighborhood, but get past the unassuming exterior and walk in to the clean blue and white (the national colors of El Salvador) dining room and get ready to eat some great food.
Family-run at this location for over seven years, El Pulgarcito’s menu features both El Salvadoran and Mexican food. Prices range from tamal de Elota at $1.95 each to a Mexican combination platter for $17.95. Portions are generous and everything is made on-site. Mexican drinks include hot chocolate, beers and juices.
Papusas are flavorful traditional El Salvadoran sandwiches – handmade, white corn, fluffy, filled with meat or vegetable filling. They had great flavor and light tender texture. Individually they cost $2.50, but I ordered the combination plate with two pupusas, rice and beans, and a Tamal de Elote for $9.95. Traditional pickled cabbage, carrots and pepper were included as well as a spicy tomato sauce. The serving was large and had plenty to share or take home.
I had one pork, cheese and bean and one spinach and cheese pupusa. They are about the size of regular corn tortillas but soft, light and delicious. Fillings were very gently seasoned with salt pepper, cumin and onions. Eat with your fingers, dipping the treats into the sauce. The black beans and rice was the best I have ever tasted, perfectly cooked, and also good for dipping the papusas. I also spread some on top. The Tamal de Elota was a large corn tamale, a bit on the sweet side served with sour cream. Light and delicious, best eaten piping hot.
My server, Patricia, was happy to explain everything I wanted to know and didn’t mind my questions in spite of the fact that there was a steady stream of customers. Nice people, good food, plenty of room to move a walker or wheelchair, with very clean, accessible bathrooms. El Pulgarcita is worth a try. Rating: good.

El Pulgarcito Restaurant
12134 Pacific Hwy. SW., Lakewood
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily