TUO ZAAFI WITH AYOYO SOUP
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What: Not to be confused with American-style quesadillas (consisting of cheese and other ingredients pressed between two flour tortillas, then cut into wedges), a typical quesadilla in this part of Mexico consists of an oval-shaped corn tortilla filled with ingredients—stringy Oaxacan cheese is usually one of them—and then folded and cooked until the insides are appropriately hot and gooey. Some common fillings besides queso Oaxaqueño are hongos (mushrooms), carne, tinga (shredded spiced chicken), huitlacoche (corn fungus), espinaca (spinach), flor de calabaza (squash flowers), nopales, and choripapa (potato and chorizo).
Where: On the advice of a trusted local friend, we found our quesadillas—earthy huitlacoche with cheese and mushroom with cheese—on the street in Roma Norte at Ricas Quesadillas (Orizaba 209, betw. Chiapas & Coahuila, map), where red-and-white-checkered tablecloths adorn the sidewalk tables and a big yellow tarp hangs overhead. Working partly inside and out, a small army of women runs the operation.
When: Mon-Sat, 7:30pm-1:30am; Fri-Sat, 7:30pm-3am (approx.)
Order: Choose the ingredients for your quesadilla (15p); you can order it “calientado” or “a la plancha” to have it grilled on a comal or griddle, or “frita” to have it fried in oil.
Alternatively: You’ll find good quesadilla vendors in markets like the Tianguis Condesa (temporary market in Condesa; on Tuesdays from around 9am-5pm, map) and at the daily indoor-outdoor quesadilla market, a.k.a., the Mercado de Antojitos (Higuera 6, map) in Coyoacán, where deep-fried quesadillas are popular, and, as the name implies, other street snacks are on offer, including flautas, elotes, and pozole. If you prefer your quesadillas from a restaurant, try regional-Mexican-food specialist El Bajío (multiple locations including Av. Cuitlahuac 2709, Col. Azcapotzalco, map) or tacos al pastor fave El Tizoncito (multiple locations including Campeche 362-A at Cholula in Condesa, map).
Good to know: In Oaxaca, empanadas are prepared in a very similar manner, often with mole inside.
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