Juayua Food Festival: Chowing Down in El Salvador

I adored our time in El Salvador, a tiny country packed with friendly people, beautiful surroundings, tasty coffee tours, and funky street art. Best of all was the weekly Juayua food festival, where we got to eat our fill of tasty dishes in a pretty mountain town.

White church with cross in Juayua, El Salvador

The church in Juayua


The Juayua Food Festival

Every Saturday and Sunday, the streets surrounding Juayua’s main square fill with stalls selling a variety of food and drink. Each stall displays sample meals, the dishes overflowing with assorted meats and vegetables, as the chefs fry up fresh food to order.  Between the mouthwatering aromas and the sounds of sizzling food, Adam and I couldn’t wait to try our first dish.


Plates with meat and vegetables on a table at the Juayua food festival

Some of the dishes on offer at the Juayua food festival


Most stalls offer complete meals, though some sell smaller snacks, and, of course, you’re free to mix and match. Many of the chefs lured us to their stalls with offers of samples on toothpicks!


The fastest way to our hearts is with free food

The fastest way to our hearts is with free food


Throughout the Juayua food festival, you can sample expertly-prepared El Salvador dishes. These include pupusas (fried bread stuffed with various fillings), tamales (chicken and potato wrapped in dough, then wrapped in a leaf), and a massive range of sopas (soups). And of course, there are plenty of typical Central American dishes of meat, rice, and beans, as well as corn tortillas loaded with assorted toppings.


More adventurous foodies can try foods such as sopa de mondongo (cow stomach soup), fried iguana, or armadillo meat (we didn’t see any, but it’s rumoured to exist)!


A meal of chicken, rice, and vegetables

A meal of chicken, rice, and vegetables


Juayua Food Festival for Vegetarians


At first glance, the festival is very meat-based, but there are some veggie delights hidden throughout. The stalls with more of a Mexican flavour are a good bet- I had some tasty tacos piled with veggies, cheese, refried beans, and avocado. These can be a bit lacking in spice, so ask around for some hot sauce.


Me trying a tasty taco

Me trying a tasty taco


You can also mix-and-match your own plate with certain ingredients. I recommend the fried yucca, which tastes like a crispy potato/turnip hybrid, and some barbecued potatoes with garlic butter.


For a great veggie El Salvadoran meal, try pupusas with beans, cheese, and/or vegetables. And be sure to sample the riguas, pancakes with shredded coconut and served with cheese (trust me, this odd combination tastes fantastic).


Rigua- surprisingly yummy!

Rigua- surprisingly yummy!


Getting to the Juayua Food Festival


Bus number 249 runs every half hour along the Ruta de las Flores, between Sonsonate and Ahuacapan. The bus stops at Juayua, as well as the towns of Ataco and Apaneca,and costs just $0.60. The towns are very near to each other, and the entire route only takes around an hour and a half. For onward travel, head to Sonsonate, where you can catch a bus to destinations throughout El Salvador, as well as to the Guatemalan border.


grill with meat and hands holding tongs

A chef preparing the food at a stall


Looking for more veggie dishes abroad? Have a look at Ailish in Wonderland’s Veggie Abroad series for some tasty suggestions.

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