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Jun 6, 2006 06:28 PM

Most delicious Mexican street food. Ever (report)

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I went to the Alameda Swap Market this past weekend. (If you haven't been, I recommend a visit, just to marvel at its scale and authenticity.) It's at Alameda and 45th Street. There are many food choices in the market, and from street vendors everywhere around it.

At one of these street vendors, we saw and tried something I'd never eaten before and thought was among the best examples of tasty street food I've ever had, anywhere in the world. (I was a foreign correspondent for many years, and so have been to a lot of places and eaten a lot off the streets.)

The vendor told me the name, but I couldn't quite grasp it. She takes a handful of fresh, green-colored dough. She then folds into any combination of meat, cheese and/or beans. She flattens it out to make something the color and shape of a green oval cactus leaf, and puts them on the hot un-oiled griddle to cook. It takes about 2 minutes, and you then top it with a great salsa, grated cheese, fresh onions and cilantro. Cost: 2 bucks.

How to find her? Turn right onto Vernon Street from Alameda (in other words, go west on Vernon.) You'll pass the market on your left. She's set up about a block further along, on the southside of the street, before the big intersection with Long Beach Ave.

Next to her, at least on Sunday, was another vendor selling homemade Pan de Fiesta. It was wonderful also.

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  1. Sounds like a Pupusa kinda, 'cept the green part is throwing me.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Davina

      It's in the pupusa family, cleearly, but according to the vendor, is wholly different -- in ingredients, origin, flavor, as well as in name. It had an Indian-sounding name, and I'm assuming originates from somewhere in southern Mexico, much like my Oaxacan favorite, Tlayuda.

      1. re: Potala23

        This sounds like a Venezualan arepita. Colombians eat arepas plain, but they stuff them in venezuela. The dough can change color as they add things (chocolate, cheese, cilantro, etc.), but the base is cornmeal. Does that sound like what you ate?

        I need to get to the Alameda Swap Meet... great posting.

        1. re: glutton

          No, it was definitely Mexican, and didn't change colors in any way. The dough is green and stays green as it's grilled on the griddle.

    2. I had something similar at one of the cart vendors standing on Hill (?) next to the parking lot west of Olvera street/north of the church a few years ago. But it was not green. I believe she called it Zapato since it was shaped like the bottom of a shoe. She served them with Nopales, various salsas, crema and that crumbly cheese that I cannot remember the name of. They were JAMMIN'! I ate so many - several varieties that I didn't even need to eat dinner! I have often thought about them and how I would love to go back and eat some more! They were delicious!

      5 Replies
      1. re: WildSwede

        Was this a zapato or a huarache? The "huarache" is the shape of the sole of your shoe, which is where it gets its name. One of my favorite foods...

        1. re: glutton

          It could definitely be Huaraches. I was thinking "shoe" or "sandal"?? What did that woman call them?? Thanks! ;-)

          1. re: glutton

            She might have used either name. It's clear it was similar/identical to what WildSwede describes. And I couldn't agree more. It's "JAMMIN".

            1. re: Dorothy

              Yes! Thanks, Dorothy!

          2. What days and times does the swap meet operate?

            1. I have been to the Alameda Swap Meet (not market) a few times, and planned to go back soon. It is a great place for Mexican and other S. American foos (Salvadorean etc) There are so many good etnic food options here I didn't want to post until I'd made a few more trips. There's a large food court in te middle of the market, a second food area in the parking lot of the building on the north side (with live mariachi music on the weekends), and a few taco trucks scattered around. Actually a good place to shop; a lot of bargains.

              I wanted to mention thet some people may avoid it due to the rough neighborhood. The easiest. fastest, and safest way to get there is to take the Blue Line. Just get off at the Vernon St station, and you'll see it. The lady vendor Potola refers to sets up shop on Vernon right outside the train tracks; you pass it on your way to the swap meet. Yes, I've tried them, and they are very good and unlike anything else I've ever had. I passed by as I was leaving the meet. I waqsn't planning on stopping there, but there was a line at the booth and a crowd of people chowing down on these things, and I don't pass up a good sign like that. As he described, they are smooth ovals like a cactus leaf (but without the spines!) I recall them as yellow, like corn meal. I want to try them again, taking a few home.

              1. Thanks for this very great tip!

                1 Reply
                1. re: aliris

                  I had these yesterday near Spring and Cesar Chavez..... The vendor had two varieties (green and non-green) They were excellent. But I didn't get the name either...... I thought they were very similar to arepas........