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Pupusería La Familiar Since 2007

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Washington Post: The $20 Diner: La Familiar, a pupuseria that even a dorm rat could love

One sister works the front of the house, overseeing a dining room that caters to a rainbow coalition of Latinos and University of Maryland undergrads looking to venture beyond their industrial dorm-room diet. Three other sisters can often be found in the kitchen, preparing the traditional Salvadoran dishes that comprise the backbone of Pupuseria La Familiar in College Park.

It’s tempting to label Maritza Hernandez, Raquel Hernandez, Nelly Hernandez and Elsy Carolina Claros the four sisters of local Salvadoran cooking, a nod to the four siblings who put a friendly face on Vietnamese cuisine for so many years. But aside from the fact that both quartets are blood relatives who work (or once worked) in the restaurant industry, the comparison falls a little flat.

The original four sisters are the children of hard-working Vietnamese immigrants, who sometimes drafted their kids into the hospitality business against their will. The siblings behind La Familiar, by contrast, actively pursued a life in the sometimes-otherworldly restaurant industry, with its unforgiving demands. Their Maryland pupuseria was designed as an homage to their mother, Emilia Cruz Lopez, who once ran an eatery in Cojutepeque, El Salvador, where the daughters learned to make those iconic Salvadoran snacks by hand.

Their homage, alas, unexpectedly turned into a memorial when their mother died in a car accident in October 2006, just months before the sisters opened La Familiar, says Danny Claros, husband of Elsy and a manager at the restaurant.

As a memorial to a mother and her skills as a Salvadoran cook, La Familiar is an unconventional one. It’s a classic pupuseria, dedicated to the flavors of El Salvador, but one willing to expand its menu into what you might call drunk-food territory — burritos, quesadillas and taquitos. In that sense, La Familiar is a new hybrid for the metro area: Sal-Col, a Salvadoran eatery that helps feed hungry college students, often when they need it most.

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Our meats are cooked to order, consuming raw or undercook meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness. Nuestras carnes se cocinan a pedido, el consumo de carnes, aves, mariscos o huevos crudos o poco cocidos puede aumentar su riesgo de enfermedades transmitidas por los alimentos.


Food allergy notice: Please be advised that food prepared here may contain these ingredients: milk. eggs, wheat, soybean, peanuts, tree nuts, onions, fish, and shellfish. Aviso de alergia alimentaria: Tenga en cuenta que los alimentos preparados aquí pueden contener estos ingredientes: leche, huevos, trigo, soja, cacahuates, nueces de arbol, cebolla, pescados y mariscos.


Tables with party of 6 or more, 15% gratuity will be included on the bill. Mesas con 6 personas o mas, se incluira una propina del 15% en la factura.

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