Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 7 a.m.
In Honduras, the ubiquitous national snack/meal is a baleada. It's a fresh, hand-made, thicker-than-normal flour tortilla smeared with refried beans, crumbly queso, and crema; folded over; and devoured.
In big cities like Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, big baladea chains and tiny stands start serving them around 8 a.m., and the tasty little items are dished out in a variety of ways.
The baleada sincilla, described above, is a cheap treat (under $1). There are versions with scrambled eggs and hot dogs (not a personal favorite), with carne molida (ground beef) and potato (muy delicioso), or with anything from avocado to chicken.
Fancier places will add grouper or shrimp plus peppers and chimol, a tomato-based salsa.
The key to a good baleada is that the tortilla must be made fresh, on the spot. In Honduras, men are rarely seen making baleadas. It's usually a woman kneading the ball of dough, slapping it between her hands, and toasting it until it's perfectly hot and crisp.
Enjoy with the hot sauce of your choice.
1. La Costa Cafeteria, 1851 S. State Road 7, Fort Lauderdale; 954-797-0195.
Your best baleada bet. With food that a would make any catracho proud (at least prouder than the Honduran soccer team made them during the World Cup), La Costa's basic baleada is around $2.50 -- about four times what it would be in Honduras -- but is nice and filling. The super baleada packs in extra carne molida, queso, crema, and aguacate.
2. Las Carnitas, 3221 Davie Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-792-4933.
As the name says, Las Carnitas will make you a baleada but will also make a tasty fried beef or pork dish. Not the healthiest option, perhaps, but the tastiest. And everything's around five bucks or less. This neighborhood joint (like La Costa, just a counter with a few tables) is great about fast delivery, if you need someone to leave a baleada on your doorstop.
3. Los Catrachos, 4645 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach; 561-615-3090.
Slightly fancy (yes, there is such a thing as a gourmet baleada), this Honduran restaurant -- Los Catrachos refers to the nickname Hondurans call themselves -- was a hot spot during last summer's World Cup. Fans were disappointed, but you won't be with these, big, fluffy, overstuffed wonders. You can get them with practically anything. Call them up (you better know some Spanish) and you can get 'em to go.
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