Tigard food cart features El Salvador's national dish
Before opening her Tigard food cart, Cindy Lopez had jobs that included clearing tables in a restaurant, selling ice cream in the Beaverton and Tigard areas and serving drinks in a nightclub on the weekends.
That changed quickly about a year ago.
"When COVID hit, she lost almost all her jobs," said Lopez's son Kevin, speaking and translating for his mother, whose primary language is Spanish. "She got really frustrated because she had to take care of me and my sister and she couldn't find a job — and she found this."
In 2020, Cindy Lopez became an entrepreneur. Instead of serving or hawking someone else's food and drinks, she decided to start selling her own.
Lopez opened Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas on Southwest Electric Street in downtown Tigard. Lopez said it was through the help of her friend Yvonne that she learned how to navigate through all the paperwork and obtaining the license necessary to open her food cart, something Lopez is eternally grateful for.
Still, when Lopez opened her business, she wanted to feature something many Mexican food carts don't carry — pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador, Lopez's native country.
"It's like a (stuffed) corn tortilla," explained Kevin, a senior at Beaverton High School. "She uses Mexican meat on top, and then she (adds) bell peppers and pico de gallo."
The meat on top includes a choice of chicken, steak or al pastor (grilled pork).
"A lot of people here are curious about what a pupusa is, and we tell them, and they really like it," Kevin noted.
Kevin said Salvadoran food is different from Mexican food in that it combines different flavors and relies less on hot peppers.
Cindy Lopez came to the United States from El Salvador when was 17 and has been a Beaverton resident for the last 13 years.
At age 9, Lopez learned to cook for her Salvadoran grandfather, and it was her mother's boyfriend who showed her how to prepare Mexican food.
She said she decided to locate her food cart in Tigard because she likes the small-town feel of the city and the fact there are not many food trucks that sell pupusas.
Lopez said her son Kevin, a Beaverton High School senior, is a great helper at Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas.
"She's happy because everything is getting better now," Kevin said, noting that business has picked up recently.
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