Summer brings a fresh round of food excitement to whet the appetite. And what better way to inaugurate the street food season than a visit to Cherokee Street's Cinco de Mayo?
Somehow things taste better when consumed while sitting on a curb, watching folks ride a mechanical bull.
Elotes Extensive Gut Check research has amply proven that if vittles are tasty on their own, they's even better on a stick. There's just something about the exposure to the elements, the sense of urgency and the sheer portability that makes food-on-a-stick an essential element of any street fest. Those who brave the line in front of El Torito (2753 Cherokee Street; 314-771-8648) will be rewarded with fresh corn that has been shucked, skewered, slathered with mayo and sprinkled with chile, cotija cheese and lime juice before their very eyes.
Chicarrones Sure, you can procure pork rinds from vending machines in our fair city (although you probably shouldn't), but on Cinco de Mayo you can get them hot off a food cart outside of Carniceria Latino America (2800 Cherokee Street; 314-773-1707). These light-as-air morsels of porkitude are roughly the size of a small child's hand. Plus, you can get them in a bag the size of your belly. Because you need it.
Tamales Tamales are the ultimate in street food -- a self-contained meal, perfectly portable, no need for silverware, and available at various points along the Cherokee strip. You could be entirely fueled by masa for the entire day without ever having to retrace your steps. Bonus: Diana's Bakery (2843 Cherokee Street; 314-771-6959) sometimes offers a vegetarian version.
Paletas La Vallesana 2 (2818 Cherokee Street; 314-776-4223) boasts an extensive selection of popsicles. Our picks: tamarind, coconut, or, if your paleta palate is more adventurous, chili-pineapple or chile-mango, guaranteed to perk up your taste buds for round two of tacos! Also check on the ice cream selection while you're there. The selection is variable; two faves are the cake flavor, with chunks of sheet cake folded in, and cheese, which tastes something like a sweetened ricotta.
Margarita in a Pineapple Uh, speaking of pineapples: It's a margarita. IN A PINEAPPLE. All of the gringos are doing it!