It can be hard to find good Salvadorian food in Orange County, but if you love South American food, especially papusas, San Sivar is the spot to go.
The first time I went, I was charmed by the thick smell of different mixtures of masa, beef, cheese and much more. They are known for their papusas but have a large variety in their menu for such a small restaurant. San Sivar is often packed with patrons enjoying the location’s fresh dishes.
They have six different mouth-watering papusas for only $3 each and generous in size. My favorites are the frijoles y queso, chicharron y queso, and revueltas. When you order your papusas, it comes out pipping hot with their house curtido, a sweet and sour pickled cabbage that brings a delicious tangy flavor to the fried decadence of a pupusa as a palate cleanser along with their house red salsa that’s got a great kick.
Papusas are the national dish of El Salvador made with thick corn tortillas that are stuffed with various fillings such as different meats, beans, cheese, and even squash flowers that are cooked to perfection on a traditional grill or comal.
They don’t just serve papusas; they have a variety of delicious items on their menu such as a few caldo dishes, fajitas, different specialty meat entrees such as encaballo, gallena en crema, Salvadorian breakfast and even mariscos.
My favorite dishes are the papusas, especially the revueltas con frijol, with succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pork and oozing, gooey cheese and refried beans. Every culture has its own slaw, be it kimchi or kapusta, and I’m now a massive fan of curtido. I often also get one chicharron and one of frijoles y queso. It’s not often nowadays that you can get a meal that fills you up for under $10 besides fast food.
However whenever I go in, it seems that almost every table has a bowl of caldo de gallina criolla. This is a chicken soup served with a plate of bone-in chicken served with rice and freshly made tortillas that is perfect for the cold, winter weather.
San Sivar sits on a hidden little strip mall on the corner of Harbor Blvd and 17th St near The Triangle in Costa Mesa. It sits in a conventional California strip mall occupied by Salvadorian, Mexican, and German storefronts.
I highly recommend stopping by this delightful small business and enjoy they exotic flavors of El Salvador.