Walk into Ercilia’s on the main strip of Mount Pleasant and you’ll immediately notice a few things: bright orange colors, soccer or a Spanish soap opera on the TVs and a general buzz of Spanish culture. Although the main strip of Mount Pleasant might be slowly changing, this venerable, but unassuming, institution continues to stand the test of time.
“I love the atmosphere and I always get the pork and cheese pupusas and the horchata” said one diner. “It’s also great for carry out since I live in the neighborhood, or just to grab and go to The Raven down the street."
Pupusas are just the beginning at Ercilia’s, but definitely not to be missed; crowd favorites include the pork and cheese, loroco (a Central American flower), and bean and cheese versions. Prices range from $1.50-$3 per pupusa so get one of each and find your favorite! Speaking a little Spanish will go a long way here, and I suggest you practice the Spanish words for a few standby’s (cheese, beans, pork, shrimp) before heading here. Don’t expect rush service either, as they make everything to order. But you won't mind the wait once the hot pupusas with melty cheese arrive at your table with the fresh curtido and salsa.
Beyond pupusas, there’s another house favorite that keeps people coming back.
“The sopa de marisco is outstanding – there is a ton of fresh seafood, and I always get it with cream," one customer said with a contagious excitement.
And he’s right - an order of the seafood soup comes with a good selection of assorted seafood, such as scallops, squid, crab and mussels in a delicious, rich broth. And get this... it'll set you back less than $10.
A personal favorite at Ercilia's is the trucha frita: fried fish with a side of rice and beans. The menu also offers tacos, tamales and other Mexican specialties, but at its heart Ercilia’s is Salvadoran.
While the food is definitely enough reason to keep coming back, it’s the general conviviality of the patrons, the friendly banter between the staff, owners and the customers, and the general feeling of “home” for anyone who walks in that has kept this neighborhood gem in business for years.
“I haven’t been to Ercilia’s lately, but I have lots of memories from 2003-2005 when I was an Americorps volunteer," said one Mount Pleasant resident. "It was pretty much the only place I could afford to eat. You could get lunch for under $3.”
Ercilia’s is more than a neighborhood restaurant; it’s a gathering place for not just the Salvadoran community, but the entire neighborhood. It's place that feels like home, and that will not change anytime soon.
Ercilia's is located at 3070 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010.