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Elote puts corn front and center

Escondido taco shop specializes in street foods such as esquites

Elote, a.k.a. corn on the cob, slathered with mayo, cotija cheese, tajin, lime, and hot sauce
Elote, a.k.a. corn on the cob, slathered with mayo, cotija cheese, tajin, lime, and hot sauce

It’s customary for a restaurant to ask a diner’s preference for certain things. How well done do you take your steak? Which toppings on your pizza? How spicy your chicken? It’s far less common for the key question to be, “How do you like your corn?”

Place

Elote

1760 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido

But a new spot in Escondido does just that, putting corn front and center. Behind a smiling corn cob logo, the restaurant Elote actually offers a standard Mexican food menu, including the likes of tacos, quesadillas, and carne asada fries.

However, the concept relies heavily on a mobile corn roaster parked inside a patio at the front of the shop. It’s the sort of small, towable trailer you might encounter at a street fair or swap meet. Inside, a conveyor system rolls baskets of corn past the heating element for an even roast on all sides. The baskets fit potatoes, as well, which may explain why Elote also features baked potatoes on the menu.

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A taco shop in Escondido, with a mobile corn roaster visible within the front (right) patio

But it’s the traditional, Mexican street food renditions of corn that drive the shop. And the first question you need to answer is whether you prefer your corn en palo (on the cob, $4) or en vaso (in the cup, $6).

The word elote is the name given to the dressed up corn on the cob sold on Mexican city streets, and a few street carts that cruise San Diego neighborhoods. You can always ask for plain elote, or for a simple, buttered cob, the way most non-Hispanic Americans are used to dressing it. The restaurant Elote will serve it however you like, but when you go for the street food standard you get a lot more flavor: a cob slathered with a combination of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, the chili-salt seasoning tajin, lime, and hot sauce.

Esquites, a corn salad popularly served by street vendors in cities of Mexico

A similar concoction is what you get in the cup, which street vendors sell by the name esquites. For esquites, the kernels are sliced off the cob, and loaded into in a paper cup along with all the aforementioned ingredients to make a saucy corn salad.

A service counter explaining the street corn options

Both preparations create a tangy, spicy complement to the sweetness of fresh corn, but the esquites cost a bit more because it features a bit more of everything. It can be fun to eat off the cob, but it certainly feels more indulgent to spoon big mouthfuls out of a cup. For an extra buck each, you may even have them add-in items including bacon and flaming hot Cheetos.

These make great snacks, but unlike street food vendors, Elote is set up to keep people around. It’s got a fairly large dining room, equipped with several wall-mounted TVs tuned to sporting events, where people might enjoy an afternoon of corn, tacos, beer, and more corn.

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Elote, a.k.a. corn on the cob, slathered with mayo, cotija cheese, tajin, lime, and hot sauce
Elote, a.k.a. corn on the cob, slathered with mayo, cotija cheese, tajin, lime, and hot sauce

It’s customary for a restaurant to ask a diner’s preference for certain things. How well done do you take your steak? Which toppings on your pizza? How spicy your chicken? It’s far less common for the key question to be, “How do you like your corn?”

Place

Elote

1760 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido

But a new spot in Escondido does just that, putting corn front and center. Behind a smiling corn cob logo, the restaurant Elote actually offers a standard Mexican food menu, including the likes of tacos, quesadillas, and carne asada fries.

However, the concept relies heavily on a mobile corn roaster parked inside a patio at the front of the shop. It’s the sort of small, towable trailer you might encounter at a street fair or swap meet. Inside, a conveyor system rolls baskets of corn past the heating element for an even roast on all sides. The baskets fit potatoes, as well, which may explain why Elote also features baked potatoes on the menu.

Sponsored
Sponsored
A taco shop in Escondido, with a mobile corn roaster visible within the front (right) patio

But it’s the traditional, Mexican street food renditions of corn that drive the shop. And the first question you need to answer is whether you prefer your corn en palo (on the cob, $4) or en vaso (in the cup, $6).

The word elote is the name given to the dressed up corn on the cob sold on Mexican city streets, and a few street carts that cruise San Diego neighborhoods. You can always ask for plain elote, or for a simple, buttered cob, the way most non-Hispanic Americans are used to dressing it. The restaurant Elote will serve it however you like, but when you go for the street food standard you get a lot more flavor: a cob slathered with a combination of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, the chili-salt seasoning tajin, lime, and hot sauce.

Esquites, a corn salad popularly served by street vendors in cities of Mexico

A similar concoction is what you get in the cup, which street vendors sell by the name esquites. For esquites, the kernels are sliced off the cob, and loaded into in a paper cup along with all the aforementioned ingredients to make a saucy corn salad.

A service counter explaining the street corn options

Both preparations create a tangy, spicy complement to the sweetness of fresh corn, but the esquites cost a bit more because it features a bit more of everything. It can be fun to eat off the cob, but it certainly feels more indulgent to spoon big mouthfuls out of a cup. For an extra buck each, you may even have them add-in items including bacon and flaming hot Cheetos.

These make great snacks, but unlike street food vendors, Elote is set up to keep people around. It’s got a fairly large dining room, equipped with several wall-mounted TVs tuned to sporting events, where people might enjoy an afternoon of corn, tacos, beer, and more corn.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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