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Anthony Salguero, the chef behind Popoca, is a classically trained chef; most recently, he was executive chef at Bardo Lounge & Supper Club in Oakland. But each time he visited El Salvador, his love for the cuisine grew. He was especially struck by the traditional cooking techniques that were vanishing in El Salvador, like grinding hominy daily to make masa for pupusas and cooking the pupusas over a wood fire. At Popoca, Salguero keeps those traditions alive by making his own masa from corn he grinds himself and cooking everything over an almond wood fire. But not everything is traditional: He adds smoked almonds to his chicharron pupusas, and rather than traditional Salvadoran veggies like loroco, Salguero stuffs pupusas with local options like cauliflower. Other dishes, like the pollo en chicha (a sweet and sour chicken stew in fermented pineapple sauce) are so old school that they’re hard to find even in El Salvador. Salguero adds French cooking techniques here and there, but he’s true to the heart of the tradition — and with Popoca, we’re lucky to have those traditions in Oakland.

— Katherine Hamilton

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Price: $-$$$

Payment Type: Cash, All Major Credit Cards

Hours: Wed.-Fri. 5:30-10 p.m., Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5:30-10 p.m.

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