Remember Sneaky Pete’s, tucked away in the Greenbrier Shopping Center on Greenbrier-Dear Road? The space was left empty and dark for a space of time, but now it’s sprung back to life. In its stead, a new restaurant has opened its doors–El Huarache Loco. This authentic Mexican restaurant has been open since November 7th and has quickly secured a reputation for delivering up tasty dishes from its open kitchen to satisfied customers around Calhoun County.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Janice Mendoza, a longtime resident of Oxford who has dreamed of owning her own restaurant for most of her life. In her home country, she learned top-notch cooking skills growing up from her family as well as at cooking school and has brought those skills to Anniston in the form of flavorful Mexican street food.
The restaurant is named after one of its featured menu items–the huarache. Mendoza’s mother, Patty Gonzalez, shared with me that the term translates to “wire.” While she was not sure why this type of dish got that particular name, perhaps it’s referring to the electrifying goodness the dish is capable of. Huaraches consist of a corn tortilla topped with refried beans, fresh cheese, lettuce, onion, and mozzarella cheese (if desired). Meat choices to accompany the other toppings range from pork skin, chorizo, or tinga (shredded chicken) to campechano (steak and chorizo mix). This type of street food, native to Mexico City, is usually found in larger cities with a high population of Latinos such as Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Houston. Now, thanks to El Huarache Loco, folks in Calhoun County have access to this unique dish to enjoy at any time.
Other items on the menu at El Huarache Loco include ones you’re probably more familiar with:
- Burritos (chorizo, steak, grilled chicken, pastor, or campechano)
- Tacos (steak, chorizo, pastor, campechano, or alambre)
- Tortas (a type of sandwich served in torta bread with various toppings as well as a choice of ham, milanesa, or cubana)
- Alambre (a mixture of steak, ham, bacon, bell pepper, onion, and cheeses in a pan served with tortillas)
On my visit, I opted for one of their extra-tasty quesadillas, which come with a choice of corn or flour tortilla. What’s cool is that when you order one, you are actually getting 2 pieces. You can choose one, for example, as a chorizo and one as a steak. There are multiple versions to choose from:
- Grilled Chicken
- Pork Skin
I had already put in my order for 2 of the same type–alambre–so next time will sample one of each. But honestly, the alambre was exactly what I wanted, as I’m a fan of anything resembling “supreme.” This supremely delicious quesadilla consisted of steak, bacon, ham, caramelized onions and peppers, and creamy mozzarella cheese.
I’m typically a person who also likes to top my quesadillas with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc. While I’m sure it was possible to order those sides, I went for the quesadilla as-is, and I was not disappointed. I could taste the flavors of every item as stand-alone flavorful ingredients. Yet, combined with the superbly soft flour tortilla, the result was a harmonious burst of savory deliciousness. By the time I finished my second, I was full and completely satisfied.
I urge you if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone of a carbonated beverage or bottled water to try one of their fresh natural pulp waters (aguas refrescas). When I dined, the available option was mango. It was a fresh and flavorful compliment to my meal.
The humble furnishings and decor echo Mendoza’s native roots, and being able to watch her prepare her cuisine from behind the high counter was a plus. I could feel the closeness in the room with some of her family members seated at a nearby table who help her run her business, coupled with her helpful mother Patty, who sat down to chat with me while I ate. She relayed to me how proud she was of her daughter for following her dream of opening her own restaurant. The mom also shared some of her back story, an intriguing glance into the life of a family seeking a better life for themselves here in Alabama.
This restaurant is a must-try place! Put El Huarache Loco on your visit list, located at 1521 Greenbrier Dear Rd Suite 2, in Anniston, Alabama. For more info or to place a takeout order, call (256) 453-3361.