We’re no San Diego, but for a small town, we have quite a few choices for good Mexican. These dishes ought to spice up your week.—Megan Headley
Line up early at the Al Pastor Taco booth at Saturday’s City Market for the namesake al pastor (BBQ) taco, which will start your morning off with a kick.
Aqui es México’s homemade mole—made from nuts, dried chilis, spices and bittersweet chocolate—is served over corn tortillas with cheese, rice, refried beans and creme in the Enchiladas Poblanas.
Cinema Taco, located within the Jefferson Theater for pre- and post-concert munchies, does a tasty Baja-style fish taco topped with cumin-lime slaw and pico de gallo.
More Tex-Mex, Continental Divide satisfies over-the-border cravings with the tuna tostada—lightly seared tuna atop crunchy tostadas spread with black bean purée, sweet red pepper sauce and goat cheese.
Guadalajara is locally owned and serves a mean carnitas-stuffed crunchy soft taco that solves the dilemma of choosing between the two.
The beef tongue tacos at La Michoacana have a well-deserved following that swears by the simple “Mexicana” topping of cilantro and onions, which lets the tongue, er, speak for itself.
All the fixins’
Before making your heavenly home-made sopapillas, stop at La Guadalupana market on Carlton Avenue for:
Zulka cane sugar: $2.49 for 2 lbs.
Nevada instant yeast: $4.19 for 16 oz.
Goya honey: $7.79 for a 1 lb. jar
Canela (Mexican cinnamon): $1.99 for a 1 oz. package
The sopapilla likely originated 200 years ago as a Spanish import. Southwesterners serve them like bread with chili-spiked stews, but most Americans are familiar with the honey-drizzled Mexican menu staple. The dough is easy to handle, and your local Latino market carries authentic fixings for preparing the treat at home.—Meredith Barnes
Make it at home
Dissolve 2 ½ tsp. dry yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water and set aside. In a large saucepan, combine 3/4 cup milk, 6 tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in 2 tbsp. butter, and cool until lukewarm. Stir in one beaten egg and yeast mixture, then gradually add 3 cups of flour, beating after each addition. Work briefly with hands if mixture becomes too thick to stir. Cover dough with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size (about an hour and a half). Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly until smooth. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Roll to about 1/2" thickness and cut with a 2" biscuit or cookie cutter. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Cook sopapillas a few at a time, turning only once. When puffy and golden, remove and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with a drizzle of honey and a few shakes of cinnamon.
Authentic whistle wetters
Jarritos, the glass-bottled sodas made with 100 percent natural sugar, come in 13 flavors—from lime to tamarind. La Michaocana stocks a colorful array.
Horchata is an agua fresca made from rice, vanilla, cinnamon, and water that tastes similar to iced coffee, but without the dehydration factor. Pick one up with your Al Pastor tacos at the City Market.
Wash down your meal at Continental Divide with the darker and maltier Negra Modela instead of the usual lineup of Mexican lagers.—M.H.