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This new aspect of the Monse’s brand joins the Pupuseria (on the opposite side of the building, split by the kitchen), and fulfills something set in motion in mid-2019. Back then, Monse and her husband/co-owner Tim Hines briefly launched Monse’s To-Go market in this small space (that used to host guest bakers), so folks could skip the line in the main eatery for grab-and-go frozen pupusas — which are now available at the Juice Bar, too.

But the pandemic disrupted their expansion plans, so they called an audible and added programming at the Pupuseria to absorb hired staff from the market, and shut it down. The Pupuseria has been going gangbusters since, so they’ve re-envisioned and re-opened this ancillary unit with a small menu of a few choices each for smoothies, boba drinks and fruit bowls or “refreshers” (like a Salvadoran “salad drink” with mixed fruits and chopped lettuce or a chamoy-garnished fruit cocktail).

There’s also a hot case sporting daily empanada flavors plus a cold pastry case filled with desserts — all vegan and gluten-free (all Monse’s products being GF and many being vegan or vegan-adaptable).

I get the Daybreak smoothie, big with peach and mango flavors riding atop milder strawberry and pineapple notes (all from real fruit), subbing coconut milk in for the regular oat (which ran out); it’s easy, nice and refreshing. The ube horchata sips sweeter, with the expected striking purple color from the yam element and big cinnamon notes in the sweetened rice milk; the tapioca balls provide a little starchiness to soak up the sugariness and it goes down quick.

I pick a spicy carnitas and cheese empanada — similar to a stuffed corn masa pocket but seasoned differently and deep fried instead of flat-top grilled like pupusas — that’s not really spicy (as most Salvadoran food isn’t) but quite hearty and gooey from generous filling, and wonderful dipped in the vibrant, piquant, house red and green sauces. Lastly: a slice of mint chocolate cake, with moist vanilla and chocolate crumb layers and a rich, thick buttercream icing (this one bright green with a pink rose-shaped garnish holding a single blueberry) that you wouldn’t know is vegan/GF other than the coconut oil texture as it sorta melts across the tongue with a bite; as a coconut fan I like that.

 

Food & Drink Editor

Matthew Schniper is the Food and Drink Editor at the Colorado Springs Indy. He began freelancing with the Indy in mid-2004 and joined full-time in early 2006, contributing arts, food, environmental and feature writing.