Salvadoreño Restaurant is a family-owned and operated restaurant serving home-style cooking from El Salvador, Central America, and a mix of their own secret recipes passed down through multiple generations. With the guidance of SVN Desert Commercial Advisors’ Anthony Ruiz, owner Carlos Ramirez is set to open the family’s sixth restaurant location in Arizona at 825 W Baseline Rd, Suite #1, Tempe, AZ in the Pepperwood Plaza. In anticipation of the grand opening, we were able to take a minute to speak with Carlos for an inside look. But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane and learn about the history of Salvadoreño Restaurant and what they are most known for: Pupusas.
Salvadoreño Restaurant celebrated its twenty-first anniversary on August 11, 2023!
After relocating to Arizona in 2002, the family opened up their first location in Mesa, AZ. In an interview with Carlos, when asked what inspired his family to open their first Salvadoreño Restaurant location, he said, “Business. I come from a family that is very business-oriented. My mom decided one day to open a restaurant. I remember I was sitting on the sofa and she came up to me and was like ‘Hey, we are going to open a restaurant’ and I was like….’WHATTT?’ I didn’t believe her at first. But I think because she is so business-oriented she instilled this mindset in each one of us. She loves people. Loves sales.”
Fast forward to 2012, the business had grown to two locations in Phoenix, two in Mesa, and one in California. Fast forward again to 2021, and another location was opened in El Mirage, followed by the expected Tempe restaurant opening in 2023, totaling seven locations.
The recipes at Salvadoreño Restaurant trace back to our homeland of El Salvador where “Niña Martha” became known by her community for her delicious chicken tamales, fresh green corn tamales, and various other homemade meals that she would send her daughter Miriam to deliver to the workers at the “fincas”, the fields of coffee beans and corn. Anywhere you are in The Valley, you are sure to find that authentic cooking from El Salvador and their famous pupusas!
What are pupusas?
What are often described as a thick corn tortilla, griddle cake, or flatbread from El Salvador and Honduras made with cornmeal or rice flour, pupusas are similar to the Colombian and Venezuelan arepa. Served as the national dish of El Salvador, they are stuffed with various fillings typically including meats, refried beans, cheese, and even squash flowers. Cooked to perfection on a traditional grill referred to as a coma and topped with a spicy coleslaw, called curtido and tomato salsa, pupusas are traditionally eaten by hand.
“Wherever there are El Salvadorian people, you will find pupusas!”
While pupusas are of course their number one bestseller, we asked for some intel on some other menu favorites. Traditional Salvadorian ceviche, which we were told can be compared to Ecuadorian or South American ceviche, isn’t super spicy but full of flavor. Carlos also let us in on a little secret, the chile relleno recipe is his grandmother’s, first passed down to his mother, and now on to him. A must-try dish!
SALVADOREÑO RESTAURANT #6
TEMPE LOCATION OPENING SOON
Carlos Ramirez took the time to share with us some of his experiences thus far in opening the family’s seventh Salvadoreño Restaurant location in Tempe and working with Anthony Ruiz as part of SVN Desert Commercial Advisors. Here are some highlights from our interview;
What were some of the challenges that you faced in opening the newest Tempe location?
“The wait. It was a very long process, taking almost three years, but I try to remember that everything has its purpose and timeline.”
Can you share your experience and criteria and any challenges you may have faced during site selection?
“I wouldn’t say that we had any challenges specifically because we had our minds already set on Tempe from the beginning. Going into our relationship working with our advisor, Anthony Ruiz, we made it clear that location was number one because we didn’t have a location in Tempe yet and secondly, we preferred a second-generation restaurant space. There was a location that we considered closer to ASU’s campus, right next to the basketball arena but after seeing this one I knew this was the one.”
What will be Salvadareño Restaurant #6 at 825 W Baseline Rd, Suite #1, Tempe, AZ in Pepperwood Plaza, is a second-generation restaurant space on the corner of W Baseline and S Hardy Road in South Tempe, Arizona. A long-time location of Barrio Pizza, this space was taken over by Sharky’s Tacos & Tequila in May 2016, and again by Late Night Johnny’s – a sports bar and grill – in May 2019. Salvadoreño Restaurant occupied the space as of 2021. It was first expected to open as soon as June 2021, according to initial reporting by Mouth by Southwest ’s campus, right next to the basketball arena. However, after seeing this one I knew this was the one.”
What renovations have you done to the unit to get the space ready to open?
“A lot, but the majority of the renovations have been the landlord’s responsibility. Our team met with the builders to ensure that everything was built out to our specific specifications. I would estimate the space received about a 90% makeover. The floors were ripped out, the walls have been redone, and the bar was upgraded to specifications necessary for preparing pupusas and tamales.”
Anthony Ruiz joined SVN to focus on Retail Tenant Representation and has become a Retail and Office Specialist for the Phoenix Market. After starting in the real estate industry in 2016, his experience and expertise continue to help business owners identify the space needs for their businesses.
Anthony serves on the board of Acceso Capital, a lending company serving small businesses in the Phoenix community, and as a guest instructor for Fuerza Local, the Hispanic arm of Local First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping local businesses reach success.
As a bilingual speaker of English and Spanish, Anthony has been able to give back to members of his community. He has helped bridge a gap between the Latino and Commercial Real Estate communities by providing resources, business solutions, and locations for owners and occupiers.
What has your experience been like working with Anthony & SVN as a whole?
“Wonderful! I met Anthony through a service that we had at one of our old locations when he was working a completely different job and company. We hit it off as guys and friends, over football. He’s extremely easy to talk to but professional, with great communication skills. He was a good fit from the get-go. From that relationship, we knew he was in this new role now as an advisor, we were looking to expand and had him help us find a location in Tempe – the rest has been history. Hopefully, he will help us open other locations as well!”
“Anthony is a wonderful guy to work with, and I highly recommend him and the company SVN.”
Do you guys have any plans for future expansion in Arizona, California, or any other states?
“Yeah, absolutely. Since Tempe is so vast, our newest location actually sits more specifically on the South side of Tempe. If all goes well, I mean why not expand to other areas of Tempe and beyond? Big plans, eventually I will throw those out little by little, so stay tuned.”
“I hope to at some point help others in the community be able to start their own Salvadorian restaurant. Whether this be through programs or through franchising, this is definitely a space we are looking to step into and take it to a different level; in Arizona to begin with and then hopefully grow it nationally. Pupusas are the native food of El Salvador. It is like the street hot dog of America, you will find it on every street corner. Pupusas are in every corner of El Salvador.”
I’ve loved working with this family because it has become more than just a working relationship, but a long-lasting friendship with Carlos, Yesenia, and Joel!
Do you have a date set for the grand opening?
“I do, but I can’t tell you yet! It is top secret! But it will be announced on all of our social media platforms if you visit @salvadorenoaz on your preferred social and you will find it there!”