Incredibly Cheap Eats--Huaraches
The quality under-$5 meal is elusive. Under-$5 snacks that can be eaten as a meal are plentiful, but a really good, belly-filling meal for less than the cost of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toll is harder to find. Thus, I submit for the Incredibly Cheap Eats record, this delicious, generous huarache, which costs $3.50 at Guerrero Food Center in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.
The word 'huarache' literally means 'sandal' because of the oblong shape of the masa flatbread base. (Which makes me think of the fact that ciabatta means 'shoe' because of the bread's shape.) Guerrero's version is on a fresh, puffy, griddle-marked masa base, which is slathered with green tomatillo salsa, showered with chopped enchilada (thin, marinated, spicy pork), and then topped with white onion, Cotija cheese, crema and a vast quantity of cilantro. The sharp, verdant salsa and the copious cilantro lend the whole thing an assertive, fresh zestiness; it tastes almost like salsa verde, but with cilantro instead of parsley.
The slightly fatty pork, stained orange from its garlicky-spicy marinade, and the crema balence out the sharpness. The whole thing is really, really tasty. Maybe not quite as good as the huaraches at the Red Hook ballfields, but smaller (which is welcome), and both easier to eat and easier to come by.
Guerrero also makes 20 kinds of tortas, each for $6. I tried the Cubana, which is stuffed with cesina, ham, cheese and several hot dogs. Yes, several. Not my thing, but other versions probably eshew the hot dogs. I didn't try the tacos ($2.50) but they looked really lovely--small, topped with diced onion, cilantro and smooth, taqueria-style salsas.
Guerrero Food Center
722 Fifth Avenue