Last Updated on July 9, 2020 by Angie
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If you frequent farmer's markets in Pittsburgh, chances are you've seen Cafe Agnes' booth – it's usually the one with a really long line. Having opened in the spring of 2019, Cafe Agnes quickly gained a reputation over the summer for serving up delicious Salvadorian pupusas and tamales with both traditional and creative fillings.
Although they don't currently have a storefront, you can continue to order frozen pupusas and tamales in the off-season and cook them yourself at home!
Cook From Salvadorian Fare from Cafe Agnes
We had seen Cafe Agnes at many farmer's markets last summer but the timing never worked out for us to try them. So when we heard that they still offer pupusas and tamales to cook yourself at home during the winter, we jumped at the chance to order some.
In the off-season Cafe Agnes tends to open their online ordering system once a week for delivery or pickup the following week. Their Facebook and Instagram pages provide the most up to date information on the ordering process.
Generally, three different types of pupusas and two different types of tamales are available. Pupusas come in packages of two while tamales are packages of five. Homemade salsas come with each, and curtido, a Salvadorian cabbage slaw, comes with the pupusas. Occasionally there are extras available like Salvadorian dessert quesadillas.
While we were familiar with tamales (masa dough steamed in a corn husk), we hadn't had pupusas before. They are a specialty of El Salavador and are basically little cakes or flatbreads made of corn flour and stuffed with meat or veggie fillings.
We ordered two different flavors of pupusas (hongos and chicharron), one type of tamale (pisques), and some sweet quesadillas.
The hongos pupusas were completely vegan and were stuffed with mushrooms, refried beans, and greens. The outside layer of the corn dough got nice and crispy after pan frying while the interior was full of creamy and garlicky refried beans, earthy mushrooms, and enough greens to make it feel healthy. Topping the pupusa with salsa verde or the smokey and slightly spicy salsa roja added another delicious dimension to the flavors. And let's not forget the curtido, a fermented purple cabbage slaw with a hint of sweetness and just the right amount of funk.
The pisques tamales were equally delicious. A rich, moist masa filling was studded with bits of sweet potato and black beans. The tamales were super rich tasting despite being vegetarian, and they were just a touch sweet from the sweet potatoes but not too much so.
Don't Forget a Salvadorian Quesadilla
For dessert we had the Salvadorian quesadillas which tasted freshly baked. The cake itself was sweet but it had parmesan cheese mixed in to give it a nice contrasting sweet/savory combination. The cakes were topped with sesame seeds for a satisfying crunch.
Our order came with printed cooking instructions that were easy to follow – just heat some oil in a skillet and cook the pupusas a few minutes per side. For the tamales, they went directly from our freezer to a steamer and were done in thirty minutes.
The ordering and delivery process all went smoothly, and we couldn't be happier with the whole experience and the delicious food as well! We were so excited to try Salvadorian food and we can't wait for farmer's market season to start again to enjoy their goodies more frequently.
Cafe Agnes sells at local farmers markets and, at the time of publishing, online orders.