Mama Julia’s Pupuseria, a new restaurant coming to Rotterdam, hopes to bring a unique cuisine option to the community.
Growing up in El Salvador, owner Jose Torres remembers watching his grandmother, Mama Julia, making corn tamales, tortillas from scratch and other dishes he loved.
“Coming here, I want to bring a little of that to the community, we want to bring a little of our culture, and food,” Torres said.
Torres, 31, hopes to be able to open during the last week of September. He decided to open up his own restaurant after working in the industry for over 13 years, most recently on Long Island, where he lived previously.
The restaurant is located at 1309 Altamont Avenue in the Sunoco plaza at the former site of Alotta Empanadas, which had closed earlier this year after three years in business at the site.
The restaurant’s main dish is called pupusas, which Torres says is similar to a tortilla, with a dough texture, stuffed with options like cheese, beans and meats. The restaurant will also offer pasteles, a Salvadorian dish similar to an empanada, as well as rice and beans, plantains, egg dishes, drinks such as horchata and more.
Torres recently moved to the Capital Region from Long Island with his wife, and the couple are hoping to raise a family here. He hopes to bring the same sense of family to this community that his grandmother did for him as a kid, he said.
“We looked everywhere in the area, and we didn’t see much of what we want to bring,” Torres said. “There’s a lot of Mexican cuisine in the area, a lot of Indian cuisine, and Middle Eastern cuisine, so we wanted to bring something different, something I think the area is missing. You have to drive an hour [south] to get to the nearest place that has pupusas.”
Torres says he has friends from a variety of different cultures, who all love the food he makes. He encourages everyone to have an open mind and try the restaurant, and maybe a new food when it opens.
To start off, the restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday and will be closed on Sundays and Mondays. Torres said the goal is to eventually be open seven days a week.
“I love to eat,” Torres said. “We go everywhere to eat. We try all kinds of different foods, but we didn’t have what I grew up eating. I feel like I’m very excited to bring that here.”