El Huarache Azteca: Reviews

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El Huarache AztecaEl Huarache AztecaEl Huarache Azteca
Tortilla Soup, Huarache Azteca (fried corn tortilla with a layer of refried beans in the middle, topped with marinated cactus, lettuce, queso, sour cream, and carne asada); Flan


JoseName: Jose
Occupation: Web Director/Writer
Location: Berkeley
Favorite Restaurant: El Huarache Azteca
Reviewed El Huarache Azteca: Sunday, January 8, 2006

El Huarache Azteca is a slice of Mexico City. It’s enlightening to know what a city of more than twenty-five million souls considers everyday food. El Huarache delivers in this regard by offering authentic, homey, street-food style cuisine. The flavors are intense, sharp, and sometimes hot, and the type of food served here is substantial.

After several visits here in the past three years, I would say that the huaraches with chicken tinga topping satisfy me and leave my palate overstimulated. This is good.

I think the single biggest drawback here (if I had to find something) would be the menu. It’s not especially “user-friendly” to newbies or people who may have never had any of these dishes. It’s hard to imagine what “chicken tinga” tastes like, for example, even if you’re from Mexico but not Mexico City. My family, for instance, is from the state of Jalisco, on the west-central part of Mexico. The food in our region is quite a bit different from central Mexico.

The ingredients that stand out for me here as uniquely central Mexican include flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), huitlacoche (a type of fungus that grows on blue corn), and the tinga (which is shredded chicken that has been sautéed with oil and chile guajillo and onions).

The Aztecs and most of the pre-Columbian peoples of Mesoamerica relied on corn, tomatoes, beans, and chile peppers, along with cacao and other native animals for protein (from turkeys to marine life, to grasshoppers and ant eggs, for example!). You won’t find grasshoppers on the menu here, but the Huarache does provide an authentic piece of central Mexico that is both satisfying and educational.


DaveName: Dave
Occupation: Disc Jockey–DJ The Maestro
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: The House
Reviewed El Huarache Azteca: Sunday, January 8, 2006

I would really like to lose some weight, but now that I have discovered Huarache Azteca, I think it might be impossible. The food at this place is so good that I already know that I am going to be a lifetime regular. Even if I became the world’s most famous and disciplined fitness guru, I would have to sneak out and overeat at this place. This may be the best Mexican food I have ever tasted.

The service was so kind and gracious that I almost wanted to hire their staff to go to other restaurants and teach self-absorbed, attitude-filled waitpeople how to just relax, stop pretending they invented coolness itself, and just take care of people. At Huarache Azteca I felt like we were honored guests in a dignified person’s home.

The decor was distinctly outrageous, sort of like you were eating in an Aztec Museum. The place was wrapped in murals. There was Aztec history and philosophy on the walls. There was a mini fountain for human sacrifices, (probably only used if someone complained about the food). There were Spanish Conquistadors marching in to wreak havoc on the natives. I hadn’t thought about the Aztecs in a long time, but I’m pretty sure this was a good place to do it.

Our server hardly spoke English, so we knew we had come to the right place. When we asked for recommendations she didn’t understand us, but sweetly went and got help. We started with a plate of four mixed appetizers. We had mini flautas, mini sopes, mini huarache aztecas, and another mini dish I can’t remember how to spell or pronounce. We were instantly transported to Aztec Heaven. We were already impressed by the chips and salsa, but once we tried the flautas and tortillas with cactus, we stopped yakkin’ and started pigging out. Our perception of Mexican food was about to be expanded forever

We had the Chicken Mole and the Chicken Tinga for our main entrées and, of course, had to get a few steak and chicken tacos on the side. Once I bit into the mole I instantly knew that this was by far the best mole I have ever had. Biting into this was like discovering the Beatles for the first time. I started eating uncontrollably. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this dish. It’s like an elegant burrito bathing in savory chocolate. This was not only merely the best mole of my life, but the Chicken Tinga was like discovering an entirely new species of food. It was so new and exciting that I wanted to go home and paint Aztec murals all over my own walls. It had a sweet and hot red sauce dripping through shredded chicken on top of a bean-stuffed thick corn tortilla. Actually, “WOW!!!” would be the best way to describe it.

So far, the best tacos I have ever had were in the Chiapas region of Mexico. I only had one small steak taco at Huarache Azteca, but it seemed right on par with Mexico’s best. The refried beans on the side were so good I wanted to drink them with a straw.

We had absolutely no room left in our stomachs, but we decided to order the flan anyway. I know I sound like a cheerleader for this place, but this was the best flan I have ever tasted, moist and sweet and instantly addictive.

My friend Evan and I were both staggered by the deliciousness of this restaurant. I felt like I had discovered one of life’s great secrets. We are already planning to bring friends back to this place by the busload.

The one drawback for some people might be the deeply urban location. When we were leaving there were hookers walking the streets, cops patrolling on almost every block, and an extremely high person at the local gas station asked me for $5. It seems to be a bit more reckless than your average neighborhood, but this food is worth the risk. I would crawl over land mines to get at food this good.


HeatherName: Heather
Occupation: Behavior Specialist for the Orinda, Moraga, and Walnut Creek School Districts
Location: Pleasant Hill
Favorite Restaurant: Havana
Reviewed El Huarache Azteca: Friday, January 6, 2006

If you are in the mood for Mexican food, but looking for something unusual, authentic, and inexpensive, El Huarache Azteca in Oakland will fit the bill. El Huarache Azteca specializes in genuine Central Mexican cuisine; something you won’t find at many local Mexican food restaurants.

After struggling to find parking and walking past many “ladies of the night,” El Huarache Azteca was like a comfortable beacon in the night. Upon entering, one is struck by the well-lit space that is covered, floor to ceiling, in amazing murals of Aztec culture. In the corner was the most amazing and elaborate nativity scene I have ever laid eyes on. We easily grabbed a table for two, as the restaurant was not crowded at this time. There were just a few locals scattered around the room enjoying their dinner.

The friendly server immediately came over and offered us menus. She returned a brief time later to take our order and bring us chips and salsa. I was disappointed to discover that the corn chips were not made here in the kitchen, despite the fact that the restaurant is known for their skill in making corn tortillas.

The menu at El Huarache Azteca is very different from your standard Mexican food restaurant. They do offer quesadillas and tacos, in all types of meat including tongue. In addition to this standard fare, they offer a wide selection of tortas and other Hispanic sandwiches, as well as flautas, chalupas, and tostadas. The most unique item on their menu, and something I had never seen before were the huaraches. I ordered the restaurant’s namesake, the Huarache Azteca, which was a thick corn tortilla, softly fried with a layer of refried beans in the middle. On top was a tangy marinated cactus, plenty of lettuce, salty Mexican queso, sour cream, and carne asada.

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  • Lynn Cancel

    We went to Azteca on a rainy friday after viewing your show the night before. It looked very promising in decor etc. but we agreed with Heather that the dishes although very “fresh” lacked zip. I had their daily special, chili rellenos and found it very bland. My husband ordered two hauarache dishes{mole/beef) same complaint. We like Havana in W.C. although we find the decor/noise and cutlery{the very cheapest kind} could be improved-the foodis good not great. Looking forward to trying The House. Love the program. Thanks-lynn

  • Luis

    I am inclined to say that Huarache Azteca is for the adventurous! I have strong feelings about Heather’s pick of dishes which included the “safest” “possible dishes in the menu, carne asada and alambre (with bacon!!), of course they are going to be bland and greasy!! Carne asada “the traditional way” will always be bland, unless you put a sauce on it, something she never did or would think of doing (may I say cultural barrier?). The same problem is observable with Lynn’s choices, again, carne asada and mole and let’s not even talk about mole, such a delicate sauce with flavors ALWAYS depending on the ingredients of the day, the sweetness of the chocolate, the taste of the chiles available. MOLE WILL ALWAYS TASTE DIFFERENT (depending on the day, ingredients and some even claim, weather!), and of course, some days it will be on he bland side! Mole is the kind of dish not even Alice Waters could master! I am more inclined to say that these people are disappointed that Huarache is not like their safe corner taqueria with their fare of TOO MUCH MEAT and TOO MUCH SALT with horrible Tex-Mex salsas that can give the uneducated palate an illusion of zest and flavor! I am sorry to disappoint you people, but Mexican food (at least Central Mexico’s) is NOT spicy by nature. Tacos, Huaraches and the small Huaraches known as Tlacoyos come really “bland” and the kick is optional and comes usually from the salsas on the side!! Mexicans prefer personal control over the level of their chili heat! Heather didnt venture on the menu for sure, where’s the chicken tinga? the squash flower? the picadillo with its aromatic spices? Did she asked questions about the salsas available to complement her dishes? or about other dishes? I am not sure she even understands the meaning of “authentic.” Let us just say, authentic Mexican food is everything, but the expected taqueria fare with its hot and strong flavors, it is about the art of combining ingredients, colors, and flavors, questions that would definitely be in the mind of a true epicurian! To call this food bland without really knowing the culture it comes from would be like saying that POLENTA and MASH POTATOES are bland, without acknowledging that they are usually part of a combination of flavours! Huarache Azteca sells “street-food” from Mexico City and that’s what you get, totally non-diet, total experience of combining simple flavors. If you are NEW to this food ask questions and remember the best way to experience food is to experience the culture it comes from (not from your own)!!!

  • Angie

    I went to Azteca because of all the good reviews but I found it to be a big disappointment. The place was pretty easy to find and the menu was not as confusing as I thought it would be. I had the guava shake and Huarache Azteca and my friend had the guacamole for appetizer. THe guava shake was white and had a lot of seeds in it. Everytime i took a sip there were seeds and it didnt have a lot of taste. It was mild, not very sweet and not very thick. It felt like drinking cream. As for the Huarche Azteca. It wasnt that good. The fried forn tortilla has beans in the middle and the topping was not that good. The cactus had a weird taaste, the whole dish doesnt have that much flavor except for the pieces of chopped pork scattered throughout the plate. All in all, the dishes were not very flavorful and we would never go again.

  • Yvette

    This restaurant is completely worthy of being reviewed on CPBA. However, it’s not that much better than the great taquerias in SF, although the huaraches are not common at most taquerias.

    Funny though, I’ve noticed my favorite taqueria in S.F. (El Gran Taco Loco in Bernal Heights on Mission St. recently added huaraches to their menu).

    It’s a good place, but not good enough for me to drive from S.F. to Oakland for. The menu was not hard to follow, just different than some.

  • mayra chavez

    el hurache azteca is one of the best restaurants ive ever been to. there food is delicious. is worth going to al the way from LA, where am from. of course the menu is not hard to follow at all i mean is it suppose to be hard?? well anyways if you are nto ready to try out something new stick to your food.

  • alma carrillo

    el huarache azteca es mi restaurante favorito por que la comida es deliciosa
    mi platillo faborito es el huarache azteca, es una tortilla rellena de frijoles cubierta de tu ingrediente faborito. yo te recomiendo que vallas a no te arepentiras

  • http://www.sancristoballanguageschool.com Spanish School Mexico

    Who knew that a place called the “sandle” (huarache) could taste so good. I lived in Mexico for a few years when I was a in the Peace Corps and this food brings back some great memories. I brought some friends here based on the recommendations and I was not disappointed. It was also nice to introduce some of my out of town friends to real Mexican food, not the stuff you get at Taco Bell. Gracias y buen provecho.