99 Essential Restaurants 2014

El Huarache Azteca

photo by Anne Fishbein

El Huarache Azteca is one of Highland Park’s many gems, a small restaurant on York Boulevard that specializes in the eponymous huarache, a thick, oblong wedge of masa shaped into something that roughly resembles a men’s size-7 sandal, then fried and topped with zigzags of cream, crumbles of cheese, lettuce and meat. You’ll need just one or two of these, plus any number of the restaurant’s other terrific antijitos (Pambazos! Sopes!) for a very satisfying lunch, one that’s bested, perhaps, only by lunch here on the weekends. That’s when longtime and newer residents alike crowd the entrance, waiting to pick up the pound or so of the restaurant’s barbacoa de borrego, lamb prepared in the style popular in Texcoco: roasted over a pit, slowly, until the meat collapses off the bone with the slightest nudge of your fork. Everyone, apparently, loves a great roast.

-- Tien Nguyen