The Elusive Elote…

Mar 8, 2016 by Stephanie Wood

I had never heard of “elotes” aka Mexican street corn until recently. I was reading one of my favorite travel books and came across a brief blurb about street food where elotes were described. As I often do with new food ideas, I became obsessed with trying it. The only street food I’d ever noticed were tacos, hot dogs, and the pineapple/coconut drink carts. I started asking around about where to try elotes. No one seemed to have the answer. I got a lot of strange looks. A friend who used to come to RP as a kid knew about it, but not what it was called, she just knew it was the “really good corn”. The universe started teasing me with elote memes on Facebook, but no one in real life seemed to know what the heck I was talking about. So I googled it, like any good researcher. I found pictures and the main ingredients on Wikipedia. I learned that when it’s corn “off the cob”, it’s called esquites. I searched “elote” on Pinterest and found beautiful pictures and recipes. My mouth was watering. I Yelp’d elotes and found a small local restaurant in Phoenix that served “street food of Mexico” with customer photos of elotes. I was so excited and drove there. Elotes weren’t on the menu, but esquites were…when I ordered it, the girl looked at me like I was crazy, I pointed to the menu where it clearly said esquites, and she said, oh you mean the corn. What the…anyway, it was delicious…a creamy, spicy, soupy corn. But, I still wanted to try authentic elotes in Puerto Peñasco. I was starting to think this was an urban myth. The search was on. Driving thru Sonoyta late one night I saw a street cart, lit up with the word Elotes! We were past it almost as we saw it and no time to stop. A few weeks ago after eating dinner on the Malecon, walking back to our car, I saw the carts, lit up like carnival stands, serving Elotes! After a huge seafood platter, I couldn’t think about eating another bite. Later that night I got the idea to drag Kyle back out to try this elusive treat. We hit Calle 13, asking all the food stands – no luck. One vendor finally told us you have to go to the Malecon for elotes. By that time, Kyle was busy eating street tacos, and I was over it. The elote was becoming my white whale, always just out of reach. So the other day around 4 o’clock we made a special trip to the fish market, driving around the block twice to find parking…I finally got my elote (and some esquites) que rico!

So here’s what I learned…even though the signs say Elotes, and you can find recipes and pictures on the Internet…no one calls them elotes…you have to ask for “the corn”. We’ve only seen the stands driving thru Sonoyta and on the Malecon. The elote carts come out in the afternoon and evening. Order it “con todo” with all of the spices, it’s quite delightful.

Here is what is typically on “the corn”: mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder and chile sauce, and lime.

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