El Huarache Azteca
I ventured out to visit my dearest friend Ruthie who lives near the Fruitvale District (Historically Latino Neighborhood) of Oakland yesterday and she told me she had a taste for Mexican. She suggested Chipotle, but I’m sure I rolled my eyes and said we should head into the Fruitvale for Real Mexican at one of my old favorites El Huarache Azteca on International Boulevard, or as some of the older Oakland residents might remember it as East 14th Street. I hadn’t visited this hallowed, cozy establishment in years. The menu is astounding. We ordered the Quesadilla Picadillo (Seasoned Ground Beef) and a Huarache (Signature Dish with a thick Masa hand formed into the shape of a shoe sole) with Huitlacoche (Black Corn Mushroom). Huitlacoche is a mushroom that occurs rarely on the ear of corn when it is growing. It is very seasonal and very rare to find this ingredient on the menu and even rarer to find it at your local Latino Market. While it is quite ugly when found on the ear of corn, it is a delicacy which should not be missed.
El Huarache also has incredible fresh fruit juices like Tamarindo (Tamarind), Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower), Orchata (roasted rice and spices) and Sandia (Watermelon). We tried the most exciting flavor of the day Pina e Nopal (Pineapple and Cactus). The Juice was light a verdant green color with chunks of pineapple and cactus. The flavor was really fresh, it tasted of green grass and sweet tropical pineapple. There was no slime as one might fear with the cactus chunks. As a newcomer to this Agua Fresca I am a convert and will look for it from hence forth.
The Quesadilla and Huarache arrived and we noticed a light green color to the tortilla and huarache on our plates. Come to find out El Huarache Azteca makes handmade tortillas and huaraches using Nopal (cactus) flavored Masa. I was excited to learn that they make their own tortillas by hand, but a nopal flavored masa is really imaginative, even in these parts.
Both were exceptionally fresh with queso, shredded lettuce and meat. The Huitlacoche a delicious deep mushroom flavor so reminiscent of my past.
El Huarache also serves up other fresh stars like Squash Blossoms, Sopes (Little Round Masa tarts with fresh fillings), Barbacoa (Smoked Lamb) and traditional breakfast too.
You’ve got to try this place.