Every Friday through the end of 2018, the Rant will feature a dish that stands out among Lee County’s restaurant scene. We’ll usually focus on lunch, but there aren’t any rules – we just want to let you know (if you don’t already) about the many dining options we have that are owned and operated by people right here in Lee County. Today we’ll walk you through the pupusas and micheladas at Taqueria La Michoacana.
It wasn’t too long ago that you couldn’t find authentic Latin American cuisine in Sanford. Sure, you could get a chicken enchilada or some nachos, but a true taste of the region was a little more rare. A couple of decades’ worth of growth in the Hispanic community has changed all of that. From bigger chain restaurants like San Felipe which have clearly stepped up their game to the numerous “hole in the wall” options throughout the county, you’re not only not going to have trouble finding street tacos or torta sandwiches, you’ve also got your choice of vendors. Of those, La Michoacana – located in a nondescript strip mall near the end of Industrial Drive – is among the best. If you’re taking our recommendation today, you’re going to have a pupusa (that’s pronounced “puh-POO-sa”) and maybe – if you’re 21 and can handle this sort of thing responsibly – a michelada.
THE DISH: Never heard of a pupusa? Don’t worry, you’re going to love them. They’re of Salvadoran origin, and kind of like a corn pancake, but stuffed. At La Michoacana, $2.49 gets you either a “queso” pupusa (cheese) or a “revueltas” pupusa (it’s been a long time since Spanish class and we didn’t do so hot anyway – apparently the literal translation of this word is “revolts,” so maybe someone can help us out here). Nothing wrong with queso, but we recommend the revueltas. It’s a meaty and cheesy and beany and filling, and the price is just right. It’s served with a little slaw, which goes on top, and if you like the burn, eat it with the jalapeno slice that comes with and some hot sauce. One is good, two is better, three is probably too much.
And hey, if you’re 21 or older and the time is right (maybe save this for dinner instead of lunch), consider washing it down with the Mexican beer cocktail known as a michelada ($5). Micheladas, put simply, are delicious. Start with your choice of Mexican beer, and add clamato juice, lime juice, a dash of hot sauce, and some other ingredients that might or might not be secrets. It’s sort of like a bloody Mary with beer instead of vodka, but it has its own salty, savory profile that perfectly compliments the food. Side note – you can purchased canned micheladas at the grocery store. Don’t do this, and if you have and regretted it, don’t let it sour you on the real ones they make at places like La Michoacana.
WHAT ELSE TO TRY: The menus at these places are endlessly fun to explore. Gorditas ($2.49) are similar to pupusas, but a little fatter (hence the name) and just as delicious. Sopes (pronounced “soh-pays,” $2.49–$2.99, depending on your choice of meat) are also close, but come with a lot more meat on a much thicker pastry. And, hey, the tacos. Try all of them, even the “lengua.” They range in price from $1.99 to $2.49 and while any of them will do the trick, start with “al pastor,” a marinated, spit-cooked pork that’s equal parts crispy, juicy, sweet, and spicy. We’ll have all of your al pastor tacos, please.
Taqueria La Michoacana is located at 2960 Industrial Drive in the Jonesboro area of Sanford and can be reached at (919) 774-8467. They’re open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday (except for Tuesday, when they’re closed), and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Check out their Facebook page here.