The quesadillas, especially wonderful, sport savory masa crusts and toppings of shredded lettuce and cheese, both of which are included in many of Huauchinango's dishes and part of a preparation style that, Bonilla says, comes with the region. Order them with tinga, shredded pork soaked in a seasoned sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chiles (and a specialty in Puebla) for a decidedly different flavor experience.

And don't miss a trip to Huauchinango's salsa bar, where the homemade offerings include smoky, spicy chipotle, a scrumptiously smooth avocado whose pits rattle around at the bottom of the serving dish, and a habanero the color of the sun and with a hell-hot bite.

The state of Puebla has also been called la cuna del maíz, the cradle of corn, so it's no wonder that specialty dishes made with masa are so tasty at Huauchinango. There are molotes, sliced potatoes, chorizo, and squash wrapped in circles of thin corn dough, then wrapped up and fried until they resemble golden cocoons; tasty chalupas, thin and crunchy shallow corn cups filled with seasoned meat or fried eggs, topped with shredded lettuce and a snow-like dusting of queso blanco, sitting atop a pool of tangy tomatillo salsa; and spicy tlacoyos, elongated bundles of thick masa, stuffed with beans, topped with queso oaxaca and a choice of green or red salsa, and satisfyingly filling.

Huauchinango’s poblano cuisine takes diners south — way south — of the border.
Jackie Mercandetti
Huauchinango’s poblano cuisine takes diners south — way south — of the border.

Location Info

Map

Huauchinango Mexican Grill

7620 E. McKellips Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: South Scottsdale

Details

Huauchinango Mexican Grill
7620 East McKellips Road, Scottsdale
480-970-9962
Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Mole poblano: $9
Pollo en chiltepin: $9
Tlacoyos: $5.50
Molotes de papa: $5.50

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Bonilla divides the cooking responsibilities for his two restaurants among himself, family members, and others, so depending on who's in the kitchen there may be occasions when the rice is undercooked, the tamales dry, or the cactus a bit cold. No matter; the good outweighs the not-so-good. And friendly servers, who may or may not know English, a phone number that's routinely out of service, and a cash-only policy are part and parcel of Huauchinango's charm.

Since Bonilla opened Huauchinango, a hot sauce company has offered money for his habanero salsa recipe, and more than one investor has approached him with an offer to sell.

"I told them all no," Bonilla says. "I don't do this for the money. I do it because I love it and I can support my family. I've asked my mother to come to live with me here, but she says Huauchinango is her home."

I'm glad her recipes made the trip.

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