Just off Arthur Avenue: Latin snacks hot from the griddle
- squid kun May 18, 2013 01:19 PM
Happened upon a little Honduran grocery called Anayely on Crescent Ave. a block east of Roberto's. In the afternoons they roll a griddle onto the sidewalk, pat out hefty wheat tortillas to order, grill them to a well-blistered brown and make baleadas (kind of like tacos that've been hitting the gym).
The baleada "con todo" (pictured) gets a smear of fried beans plus avocado, scrambled egg, crema (mantequilla) and something like farmer cheese. The tortilla is thick, chewy and couldn't be fresher; the flavors of the stuff inside meld together well. It's under $4 but a substantial feed—don't spoil your dinner by putting one away right before Roberto's. But it's tasty, if on the heavy side (I would've liked something green or acidic in there), and it's improved by the tart hot sauce on the table. That's table singular—just to the right of the door, with two folding chairs, in front of a Honduran flag. Friendly folks run this shop.
Back on Crescent a week later: Hadn't noticed before, but a little Mexican grocery called Mi Jacalito, a few doors west of Roberto's, also deploys a sidewalk griddle, alongside a spread of fruit and vegetables (the light green squashes were plump and appetizing-looking). Quesadillas start with masa dough pressed to order into thickish ovals, griddled and topped with shredded white cheese. I added mushrooms, which were good, cooked in advance with onion and epazote (other options: chicken and sausage). They're finished with squirts of crema and salsa (the verde was fresh-tasting and spicy), then folded lengthwise. Nice.
Like Anayely, Mi Jacalito's run by friendly people, in this case from Morelos. It has one table fewer than Anayely, but there are a couple of collapsible stools for use on the tree-shaded sidewalk. If they're taken, you might be able to borrow one of the chairs in front of Bato's barbershop next door or grab a bench at D'Auria-Murphy Triangle, the little park across the street.
I don't want to oversell these places (though I especially enjoyed that quesadilla). But they show the changes under way in Belmont, where the Mexican presence in particular has been growing for years, and they're worth a try if you're in the nabe shopping and grazing and are hungry for something other than Italian or Balkan food.
re: Jim Leff
Good to know. Those weekend soups (chicken, beef, fish) might be worth a try too.
They also make meats with tajada (fried green banana—not plantain, the cook emphasized). BTW those chicken tacos on the menu are probably made with store-bought corn tortillas; there was a package of them by the griddle.