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Bienvenido a Pupuseria Emerita

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“The kitchen is small, but these are the famous pupusas,” Emerita said during a recent visit to her restaurant in Moorefield. Since immigrating to the U.S. decades ago from her home country of Honduras, Emerita has worked in several restaurants, but Pupuseria Emerita in Moorefield is the first restaurant she’s ever owned. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Pupuseria Emerita sits just a few hundred yards off of Moorefield’s Main Street. But drive down the bumpy gravel sidestreet to where the small restaurant sits and soon, it will feel like you’re somewhere else completely.

A large maple tree sitting next to the singlewide trailer, the restaurant’s humble home, offers shade on warm days. A covered porch is attached to the front entrance where sleepy cats like to stretch out and men sit around conversing in Spanish. 

Emerita’s daughter, Ayde, travels from her home in Winchester, Virginia every week to support her mom’s restaurant on busy days. Together, the women spend hours every day to prepare meals by scratch. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Inside, Emerita and her daughter Ayde, navigate their narrow kitchen with ease. Most of the time when you stop in, there are three generations all assembled together. Emerita is often found at the griddle making fresh pupusas, watching the flat bread begin to puff up as warm cheese oozes from its pocket.

In between making authentic Honduran and El Salvadorian meals, like homemade tortillas or fresh seafood soup, Ayde often runs the cash register for her mom because her English is better. And on a Friday or Saturday evening, Ayde’s children, Emerita’s grandchildren, are also found sitting in the restaurant with their homework spread across a table.  

“They practice very radical hospitality,” Amy Fabbri said of Emerita and her family. “She makes you feel comfortable right away,” Fabbri added. “That’s just her gift.” 
From left to right, Emerita’s husband who folks call “Candle,” Emerita, Aydea, Emerita’s daughter, and Jocelyn, Emerita’s granddaughter.
Photo: Justin Hayhurst/ 100 Days in Appalachia

Emerita didn’t move to Moorefield for the poultry industry. She moved here because she wanted to. After living in the U.S. for years and working in restaurants in larger cities, Emerita found a community and a Hispanic church that embraced her in Moorefield.

In return, through her handmade pupusas and tacos, she’s providing a little piece of home to the many families that have immigrated from South and Central America, and she’s expanding the palettes of the many Moorefieldians who have always called these mountains home.