Favorite Dishes

Honduran Baleadas: Three Great Places to Get Them

Just how significant has Miami's Central American population become? In the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, there is a small chain of cafeteria-style restaurants called Coco Baleadas. The first U.S. location opened quietly on Coral Way last month, and it's the busiest the small space (which once held a Peruvian and pan-Asian restaurant) has been in years.

The specialty (and namesake) is the baleada. The Tomasita ($3.90) is a taco-burrito hybrid packed with chorizo, red beans, avocado, sweet plantains, and a white cheese called cuajada, which has the tangy creaminess of queso fresco with the faint bounce of fresh mozzarella.

Most important, however, is the thick whole-wheat tortilla. Baleadas are thought to have first appeared in Honduras in the early 20th Century at the behest of U.S. fruit companies importing wheat as they ramped up the country's banana production. The shelf-stable staple led the expansion of the chewy tortilla and soon became the standard breakfast for field workers, according to a Cornell University study.

But a few years ago, Coco owner Karla Martinez had little experience with baleadas beyond making them at home. A former environmental consultant, she said she first ate one during a visit to Honduras six years ago, and a year and a half ago she decided to quit her job and take up the kitchen.

"There was no Honduran restaurant in this area, and since opening we've had tons of Hondurans coming in," she says.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson

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