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Entry from February 01, 2008
Huaraches (sandal- or shoe-shaped Mexican appetizers)

Huaraches (Spanish for “sandals” or “shoes") are thick, oval-shaped corn tortillas, often topped with meat, cheese, beans, and cooked cactus leaves. The name “huaraches” was either coined or popularized by El Huarache Azteca, a popular restaurant in Mexico City’s Mercado de Jamaica since the 1930s.

“Huaraches” began appearing on Mexican restaurant menus in the United States in the 1980s.

Rough Guides
El Huarache Azteca
Torno #154, Col. Jamaica
Mexico City
Type of Dining: Local Cuisine
Type of Cuisine: Mexican
This entry has photos. 
Member Recommendation:
Very Highly Recommended
Price Range: US$10 - US$20
Attire: informal
Reservations: No

This is really an institution, this restaurant specializes in “Huaraches” which literally means: “sandals”. These are elongated tortillas with refried bean paste inside and you put anything on top, like a chicken breast or a couple of sunny eggs, or maybe mole con pollo, or if your budget is low or you hunger is not big enough, then a huarache solo (plain) would be.

This restaurant is located near the Mercado de Jamaica, one of the largest markets devoted to fresh flowers in Mexico City. The place is a breakfast and lunch option only, as they are open only from 7:30am through 3pm from Tuesday to Sunday. If you go early be prepared for a loooooong wait, they are very popular, even though there are three other restaurants selling huaraches.

El Huarache Azteca - Historia de la Casa
Fue el 19 de mayo de 1935 cuando la Sra. Carmen Gómez decidió establecer singular puestecito de tlacoyos en las orillas del embarcadero del gran Canal Nacional (hoy calzada de la Viga).

En estos días Doña Carmelita (como era conocida por todos), iniciaba su labor diaria con la molienda del nixtamal y del fríjol en metate de piedra negra; así como con la preparación de las tradicionales e inigualables salsas verde y roja molidas en molcajete.

En el año del 1938 se tapó el Canal y se construyó ahí el Mercado de Jamaica, donde Doña Carmelita adquirió un local. A partir de esta fecha, los tlacoyos adoptaron el nombre de Huaraches, debido a su forma y tamaño que semejaban el huarache de nuestros ancestros. Además se comenzó a preparar el delicioso Consomé de Carnero.

En el año de 1956 el mercado desaparece por la construcción de la calzada de la Viga, por lo que Doña Carmelita se ve en la necesidad de buscar un nuevo local, ubicándose en la calle de Torno. En 1965, estudiantes de la Escuela Superior de Educación Física inician una tradición muy especial, que consiste en la Jura de la Memela en la que rinden honores al exquisito sabor de los huaraches con una alegre fiesta en las instalaciones del restaurante.

“Mexican Hot...Or Not” by Karen Hursh Graber
Stuffed Nopales
These were first served to us at the nopal fair in Tlaxcalancingo, Puebla. I have since had them in restaurants in Mexico City. They are aptly named for the flat soles of the country people’s sandals that they resemble.

6 large nopal cactus paddles, cleaned
1/4 medium white onion
1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved
salt to taste
6 slices manchego, jack or gouda cheese
1/4-1/2 cup flour
3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 cup corn oil (...)

(Oxford English Dictionary)
A leather-thonged sandal, orig. worn by Mexican Indians.
1887 F. C. GOOCH Face to Face with Mexicans xii. 433 Leathern aprons and sandals of the same, called guarachi.
1892 Dialect Notes I. 190 Huaracho, -s, a kind of sandals worn by Indians and the lower classes generally. Used generally in the plural only.
1909 Cent. Dict. Suppl., Guaracha.
1926 D. H. LAWRENCE Plumed Serp. viii. 130 The dark feet in the glare of the torch looked almost black, in huaraches that had red thongs.
1928 Funk’s Stand. Dict., Guaracha, a Mexican-Indian sandal.

Live Search Books
A Guide to the Lone Star State
compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Texas
New York, NY: Hastings House
Pg. 624:
BORACHES (corruption of huaraches, sandals) SPRING, 50.3 m., is distant about three miles, at the foot of the Rosillos Range (R). It is the site of a large Indian camp, where many artifacts have been found. Legend says its name came from a pair of rawhide sandals found in a cave nearby.

8 June 1986, Los Angeles (CA) Times, Calendar section, pg. 100:
The huarache is a masa turnover filled with a black-bean paste and resting in a pool of red and green sauce-a visual treat that tastes good, too. 

20 May 1988, Los Angeles (CA) Times, Calendar section, pg. 14:
There are a couple of exotic attractions on a basically familiar Mexican menu: huaraches, which are essentially tamales filled with black beans, and some dishes that could pass for California Cuisine, such as a chicken breast in ground sweet peppers (tasting much like paprika) or a filet mignon steak in a mild sauce of chipotle chile.

1 June 1990, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Armando’s Cafe” restaurant review:
Less familiar to my Anglo tastebuds were the huaraches—baked corn tortillas folded in the shape of a shoe, the interior smeared with refried beans and ...

17 October 1991, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. H27:
Outside the El Texanito ice cream shop, a stand specializes in huaraches, which are tasty sandal-shaped patties of masa mounded with diced nopales (cactus), sour cream and peppery, crisp bits of extremely well-done meat.

23 October 1992, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 34:
Another interesting special from Gualalajara is huarache ($9.95), named for a shoe, because the shape of the masa (ground corn) bowl looks much like the ...

Google Groups: rec.food.historic
Newsgroups: rec.food.historic
Date: 1 Dec 92 08:49:35 +0200
Local: Tues, Dec 1 1992 1:49 am
Subject: Nixtamal

Mexican indians treating corn with lime water to make the dough for tortillas, and for a long list of other “pasties” (sopes, huaraches, totopos, tamales, pambazos, etc) is not a thing of the past.  Nixtamal, the maize dough is still prepared in this fashion all over Mexico. 

11 June 1993, Doylestown (PA) Intellegencer, pg. D7, col. 2:
Marin also recommends the Huarache—large corn soft shell filled with your choice of chicken or beef fajitas, beans, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, hot sauce, ranchero cheese and onions for $6.40.

Google Books
A Cook’s Tour of Mexico:
Authentic Recipes from the Country’s Best Open-Air Markets, City Fondas, and Home Kitchens
by Nancy Zaslavsky
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
Pg. 60 (Places to go and things to eat):
Huaraches. From a stand in front of the market in Colegio, after 7 P.M. Handmade tortillas are called huaraches (sandals) because their long oval shape, thickness, and chewiness is like a sandal sole. They are topped with refried beans, spicy de arbol chile sauce, shredded cabbage, and cooked cactus leaves.
Pg. 172:
Cholula’s memenas are made by forming a medium coarse blue-corn masa into a ball, making a hole and filling it with pureed black beans before patting it out to a bean-filled 5 by 10-inch oval. They’re different from huraches, which are usually made from coarse yellow masa (and are a specialty at Mexico City’s Mercado de Jamaica), and are never filled with black beans. Huaraches (the word translates to “sandals” because of the oval shapes) can be seen from Guadalajara to Mexico City, and like shoes, come in various sizes.

Houston (TX) Press
No Tex-Mex!
Otilia’s eschews the goopy for the good, authentic Mexican-style
By Alison Cook
Published: July 13, 1995
The green sauce, a far more rambunctious substance than the red, is best mitigated by a thin cushion of nutty-tasting refried beans. The sope that results is still breathtakingly simple—and addictive. A more opulent variant called a huarache arrives in the shape of shoe sole, its corn-cake base clad in electric salsa verde, refried beans and a notably discreet melt of grated white cheese. Strictly speaking, the huaraches and sopes fall under the category of botanas, the Mexican appetizers or snacks. I find myself tempted to eat as many as humanly possible, which for me puts them into the category of lunch or dinner. Either way, they’re among the best Mexican dishes in Houston.

Google Groups: stl. dining
Newsgroups: stl.dining
From: Rene G
Date: 2000/05/09
Subject: Re: Chicago Places (was: My Visit to St Louis)

For those interested in Mexican street food let me again recommend the New Maxwell Street Market. It’s a Sunday morning flea market on Canal St (500 W) between about Taylor (1000 S) and 15th and is open from about 7am to 3pm. Much of the food is found around 14th St. You can get burritos there, to be sure, but there are so many more interesting things to try. Some of the best things are huaraches, sandal-shaped masa cakes stuffed with black beans and topped with fresh salsa and crumbled queso anejo

Houston (TX) Press
The Mother Flavor
With its fresh masa and mole straight from Puebla, La Bamba Meat Market gets in touch with its ancestral tastes
By Robb Walsh
Published: June 29, 2000
“Super Tortas, Taqueria, Huaraches.” These words are painted in bright green letters on the side of La Bamba Meat Market. They catch my eye every time I drive down Washington Avenue. 

I know that a torta is a sandwich, and I know that a taqueria makes tacos. But huaraches? The huaraches I know are those Mexican sandals with woven leather uppers and soles cut from tires, as in the Beach Boys’ immortal lyric “You see ‘em wearing their baggies / huarache sandals too.” In my hippie youth, I bought a new pair every year on my spring break pilgrimage to San Miguel de Allende. But what do huaraches have to do with food?
Maria reaches under a counter and pulls out a wooden contraption that looks like a tortilla press, except it’s shaped more like a shoe box. Then she gets out some fresh masa. (I am liking this is already.) She takes a big glob of masa and centers it between two sheets of plastic and starts pressing the lever on top, pausing a couple of times to coax the masa into shape. What emerges is a big, thick fresh masa creation the size and shape of a shoe sole.

The huarache is then put on the hot griddle with a little oil. Maria cooks this tortilla-in-the-shape-of-a-shoe-sole until it has a nice brown crustiness and smells heavenly. Then she puts it on a plate, spreads it with a base of refried beans and asks me which taco toppings I want. I look over the steam-table selections and decide to go with the beef in verde sauce. On top of the large pile of beef, she mounds shredded lettuce, onion and, at my request, chilies. The antojito (the word means “little whim” or snack, but in Mexico it refers specifically to foods made from the corn dough called masa) is looking less and less like a sandal and more and more like a mountain, especially as Maria is now snow-capping the summit with crumbled queso fresco and a drizzle of crema.
“Does anyplace else in Houston have huaraches?” I ask Maria.

“No,” she says. ”Solamente aquí.”

1 March 2002, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Tortilla Glossary” by Judy Hevrdejs:
Huaraches: Thick, rimmed oval corn tortillas.

Google Groups: alt.usage.english
Newsgroups: alt.usage.english
From: “John Seeliger”
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2003 12:15:33 -0600
Local: Sat, Jan 18 2003 1:15 pm
Subject: Huaraches

I was watching Rick Bayless’s PBS show “Mexico One Plate at a Time” and he was talking about a type of food there called a huarache which is shaped like a sandal.  In fact, it gets it’s name from a sandal.

He made two of them on his show:  one from corn masa with black beans and one from wheat flour.  He used a tomatillo salsa he had previous made and put goat cheese, radishes and onions on.  At one point, he called it Chicago pizza (he lives in Chicago). 

October 2006, Sunset magazine, “What we crave: huaraches,” pg. 26:
“I was born at my uncle’s restaurant in Mexico City,” jokes Veronica Salazar, who’s been cooking since she was old enough to hold a plate. Last year, La Cocina-a nonprofit that helps low-income immigrant women grow culinary businesses-found Salazara booth at San Francisco’s bustling Alemany Farmers’ Market, where she opened El Huarache Loco. It’s named after her specialty: tortillas laden with black beans, oval-shaped to look like huamches (sandals), and covered with toppings like queso fresco, carne asada, and cactus salad. Diehards start lining up at 7 a.m. El Huarache Loco, 415/572-6832; La Cocina, www. lacocinasf.org or 415/824-2729. 

Houston (TX) Press
Fonda Doña Maria
Sole Food
By Paul Galvani
Published: August 30, 2007
The huarache de steak ($3.95) at Fonda Doña Maria (120 Tidwell, 713-695-5540) could be the original “sole food,” since “huarache” means “sandal” in Spanish and perfectly describes the shape of the thick piece of hand-thrown masa that forms the bottom layer of this dish. The masa is thick enough to be eaten with your hands, but you run the risk of spilling it if you make even one small slip-up. The masa is covered in refried beans, then finely sliced lettuce, fajita meat, the Mexican cheese known as queso fresco, tomato pieces and, finally, sour cream. It’s like eating a combination plate in one easy-to-handle package. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, February 01, 2008 • Permalink