Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comfort Food Honduran Style

Throughout Jackson Tennessee there is an steady growing number of Mexican restaurants.  Many of them selling the same three usual suspects: meat, cheese and rice. It seems like every 'Los Something', 'El Sew and Sew' and 'La This and That' serve the same cookie cutter Americanized Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos and fajitas.  Much of what passes as Mexican cuisine is about as authentic Mexican as 'Chef Boyardee' is Italian. There are those few local Taquerias that serve authentic dishes like Al Pastor, Barbacoa and Mole Poblano. 

Every now and then something special comes down the culinary pike. Enter 'Los Amigos'…

As the cold weather has began to set in, I am driving down 45 bypass in Jackson and I peer over to see a lighted sign that says 'Los Amigos'. I must admit that with a name like 'Los Amigos', I was not expecting much. (Too Vanilla!) I immediately pulled in and proceeded to go inside just to humor myself.  I was a little leery sensing the same three suspects of meat, cheese and rice would be hiding inside. Maybe I could get a 'McTaco' or a 9 piece box of Salsa Nuggets…As I entered, I noticed a Honduran flag hanging in the front window. Interesting. No images of sombreros, burros or the typical kitch Mexi deco….

I picked up a menu and began scanning. 'Plantains', 'Pupusas' 'Molcajete'…What was this? This was not the same old Mexican fare that could be found all over town. Just then a delightful young lady greeted me and tells me that they serve Honduran foods. Sweet! Without hesitating I took my seat for what would prove to be some delicious fare!

Los Amigos features some wonderful Honduran dishes that many West Tennesseans may have never encountered. Lets start with one of my favorites, the 'Pupusas'. Pupusas are hand made corn tortillas stuffed with pork, cheese and covered in shredded vinegar laden cabbage. Think warm cornbread cakes stuffed with slow cooked pork. Man are these good!

You must try the 'Pastelitos' which are golden fried tortillas stuffed with seasoned beef and potatoes and are covered with a savory Honduran salsa called 'Salsina'. The 'La Marinera' is fresh fried talapia with Honduran salsa served with sweet green bananas and avocado. 

Other dishes include Honduran fried pork chops fried sweet or salty plantains and Honduran fried chicken and salsa. Los Amigo's 'Carnitas' are slow cooked pork tips marinated in citrus juices and seasonings. Los Amigos serves their carnitas with beans, rice and warm tortillas. 

The featured crown jewel of Los Amigos is the creation known as  'Molcajete' (Mole-ka-he-tay). The word 'molcajete' refers to a stone bowl used to grind spices. This amazing dish is served in an actual molcajete. The bowl is filled with a delicious stew made from slow braised steak, caramelized onions, stewed tomatoes and peppers and seasoned with Honduran spices. It is topped with cheese and served piping hot with warm tortillas.   

I don't easily admit this but this food was so good that I came back a second day and ate their cooking again. It was so fresh, so different and so delicious I just had to have more.

'Los Amigos' is operated by the Villeda family from Brownsville Tennessee. Head chef Maria Villeda has been cooking Honduran favorites for years. Come taste some of her amazing Honduran comfort food!  

Los Amigos

1869 Hwy 45 Bypass

Jackson TN