El Huarache Azteca | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

El Huarache Azteca

photo by Anne Fishbein

The king of Highland Park antojito parlors, El Huarache Azteca is the locals’ preferred source for that satisfying snack between meals, eaten quickly off a paper plate and drowned in watery but stunning spicy salsa. Chewy carne asada sopes, sprinkled with queso fresco, or a foil-wrapped torta stuffed with soft stewed lengua are both immensely satisfying, but most customers opt for the namesake huarache, a Mexico City specialty formed from a sandal-shaped oval of fried masa and layered with beans, lettuce, cheese and meat. You’re supplied a flimsy plastic fork, but the only reasonable way to attack this oblong construction is with one’s hands. Once you’re done wiping the crema off your chin, take note of the signs promising spit-roasted barbacoa on the weekends and killer chilaquiles verde in the mornings. For a restaurant named after a specific dish, El Huarache Azteca is a surprising jack-of-all-trades. —Garrett Snyder