Tacos may very well be the perfect food, but let's face it, the standard Meximerican fare can get a bit stale after a while. Taco the Town is here to highlight some of the more unusual Mexican finds in the valley.
This week: Lucha Libre Tostilocos from Barrio Queen Tequileria
¿Como se dice?: Tostilocos are a funny little snack that you can pick up from street food vendors in Mexico, but hardly ever see on a menu here in the States. The closest American comparison is probably a Frito pie eaten straight from the bag. Rip open a bag of flavored tortilla chips, add a bunch of odd ball ingredients on top, and dig in with a spoon. Kind of like a pile of Americanized nachos but with much weirder ingredients than you're probably used to seeing.
When we saw the Lucha Libre Tostilocos on the menu at Barrio Queen, we couldn't resist. A big boat of Tostitos came topped with chile-coated tamarind candy, tart lime juice, salty hot chamoy, crunchy sweet peanuts, and a sprinkle of fresh fruits 'n' veg. You wouldn't think it all works together but if you grew up on the border and eat your mangos with chile and lime, you're probably a good candidate for this salty, sweet, hot and tangy treat fit for a hungry luchador.
La Comida y El Sabor: You know going into it that tostilocos are anything but health food. Despite the sprinkle of fruit, it's a sodium bomb that will have you salivating and in need of another cerveza in record time. The Lucha Libre Tostilocos at Barrio Queen are a hefty serving of salty, spiced Tostitos that are decent on their own, but even better topped with green salasa and chamoy sauce. Chamoy is a chile-packed pickled fruit brine that manages to be salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy all at once. Add to that a sprinkle of tamarind candy rolled in chile powder and some fresh lime juice. Then sprinkle on jicama, mango, and cucumber chunks, and a handful of cacahuates japones (Japanese peanuts). Japanese peanuts have a smooth, crispy shell with a salty soy flavor.
Mix it all together and what do you get? A plate of faux-nachos that satisfies every taste bud. Sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. An unusual combination of flavors that may have you perplexed at first, but keeps you coming back for a second bite, and a third bite, and a fourth bite...
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The only negative about our Lucha Libre Tostilocos was that there simply wasn't enough topping. If you choose to walk on the wild side and order a platter of 'em (go ahead, they're only $6), then you may want to ask for them to go heavy on the chamoy and salsa. In the future, the Queen should also consider adding some cueritos (pickled pork rinds) into the mix too. Cueritos aren't only a traditional tostiloco topping, but they also add a chewy texture that was noticeably missing.
Bring a bit of México to your kitchen: Tostilocos couldn't be easier to make. Grab a bag, cut it open and top with the following: cucumber, jicama, mango, chamoy, lime juice, cueritos, hot sauce, cacahuates japones, and just about anything else you want to toss into the mix. If you're the type of person that can't function in the kitchen without a recipe, here's your guide to homemade tostilocos, just like the street vendors make 'em.
Know of any Mexican gems in the valley? Reveal your family secrets in the comment section.