Fried cheese fish tacos in Cancun were fantastic, but what I miss most from Mexico are the freshly made sopes and quesadillas.
In Zona Hotelera, for sopes and quesadillas, you can go cheap or expensive. If you want to take the cheap route, Las Quekas is the place to go. Located right off Boulevard Kukulcan, it’s a bustling, little shop filled with people all day and night. And for good reason, the quesadillas and sopes cost only MXN $13 (USD $0.99) each and are freshly-made to order.
First the sopes and corn quesadillas are rolled and pressed by the hard-working ladies in the back…
and then taken up front where the hot comal (cast-iron griddle) awaits.
Within minutes, your quesadilla/sope is filled/topped and ready to be consumed.
I ordered one cheese quesadilla, one huitlacoche quesadilla, and one chicharrón prensado sope (above). Chicharrón prensado, if you’ve never had it is a terrine of sorts made with fried pork skin. At La Quekas, it tasted almost like corned beef hash but porky. On top of a freshly pressed and griddled sope with crema, shredded lettuce, and cheese, it was damn delicious. But really, the star was the piping-hot sope, soft at the center yet crisp at the edges.
The quesadillas were tasty as well; hot, thick, and crisp. As for the fillings, the cheese quesadilla was generously stuffed with salty, melty Oaxacan cheese, and the huitlacoche quesadilla (above), was filled with cheese, mushrooms, and huitlacoche. I was hoping for a lot of huitlacoche, but instead it was filled with sliced mushrooms made more earthy with the former.
If outdoor seating with no table service is an issue for you, or you prefer to have your sopes with a solid margarita, La Destilleria may be better suited for you. They only have one kind of sope on the menu, Sopes de Cochinita (MXN $32 / USD $2.44 for one), but it’s a mighty good one. Topped with slow roasted tender pork in a citrus juice with beans, avocado, red onions, and chile-habenero salsa, it’s definitely more gussied up, but still true to taste. Of course, the sopes are half the size and twice as expensive as the ones at Las Quekas, but it’s in a proper restaurant with a view of the lagoon, so it’s understandable.
And if you want to go all out, there’s the Tequila Shrimp (MXN $319 / USD $24.33), which in tourist-pleasing fashion, is doused in tequila…
and then served with potatoes and rice in a tomato bean sauce. Despite the spectacle, it’s a great dish. The sauce was creamy, and the shrimp were large, flavorful (Maggi, tequila, and black pepper seemed to be the key), and had good bounce to the bite. Surprising, considering they were on fire minutes ago.
Alas, La Destilleria is not as friendly on your wallet as Las Quekas a few kilometers up the road, but when you’re on vacation it’s only right you experience the best of the both worlds.
Blvd. Kukulkan KM. 9.5
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Blvd. Kukulkan KM. 12.65 (map)
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico