Finding the Perfect Elote
Elote - the classic Mexican street corn that every LA native knows and loves. Corn on the cob, grilled and charred, smothered in mayo, rolled in crumbled Cotija cheese, sprinkled with spicy chili pepper flakes, and finished with a squeeze of lime.
At Havsies, we know the importance of quality ingredients and complex flavors. Being from LA, we’ve become acquainted with quite a few different flavors but Elote became an obvious choice to add to our menu. In order to create the best Elote popcorn, we needed to know what ingredients made this classic street food end up on our cravings list.
We set out on a mission to find what makes the best Elote. We started our search in none other than our hometown of Los Angeles. Our team headed out visiting different locations known for their Elote. From street carts to restaurants, Elote was at almost every corner. It seemed that we weren’t the only ones craving the classic snack.
Our first stop was a classic Mexican restaurant in South LA. We pulled up to a colorful building decorated with papel picado. They served everything from tortas, tacos, and burritos to Mexican fruit cups. As tempting as everything was, we knew what we came for.
This particular restaurant offered two versions of Elote. Not only did they serve the classic corn snack that we all know and love, but they also offered a variation that came with a kick. This creative twist on the classic featured Hot Cheetos, giving it a spicy crunch that quickly became a favorite within our team.
After devouring our corn, we moved on to our next destination. We packed our things and made our way to North Hollywood where our research continued.
Our next target had something different in store for us. Esquite is another variation of the corn snack that has become increasingly popular for many restaurants and street vendors, which is what we found waiting for us on a crowded street corner under a vendor tent.
We watched as the cooks opened the pot of fresh, steaming corn and poured it into our cups. The smell of the corn filled the tent making us even more excited for what we were about to experience. Not only did they offer classic ingredients like mayo, crumbled Cotija, and fresh lime, but they also offered non-traditional toppings such as Hot Cheetos, tortilla chips, Tajin, garlic salt, and fresh jalapeños.
We all customized our corn in different ways - each of them bursting with different flavors. Hot Cheetos and Tajin brought a tangy twist to the juicy corn, both trending among our team.
With full bellies, we set off to our final stop.
The directions took us to an empty, dimly lit parking lot in downtown L.A. At first, we thought we must have had the wrong address, but then we noticed the line of people forming on the edge of the parking lot. This Elote destination was a late night adventure: Open from 11:15pm - 2:00am.
We slowly made our way over to the line that seemed to lead to nothing, unsure of what we were waiting for. Then suddenly, a white truck pulled up to an empty spot, seemingly designated just for the driver. Within three minutes, a cart, umbrella, and a box of ingredients were unpacked at the front of the line.
The line started moving up faster than we expected. This guy was slinging Elote left and right. It was clear that he had mastered the process and knew exactly what everyone wanted on their corn.
He pulled out the already steaming corn from his case and slathered on the mayo. He added butter on top before rolling the corn in crumbled Cotija, followed by cayenne pepper sprinkled on the top, finished with freshly squeezed lime juice. He wrapped it in foil and was already working on the next order. After waiting in line for nearly half an hour, it was finally our turn. We ordered our 4 Elotes and were ready to see what all the excitement was about.
The first bite was filled with fresh flavors! The fresh steaming corn. The vibrant tinge of lime. And the kick of the cayenne pepper.
This humble Elote cart in the middle of an empty parking lot surprised us. The corn was hot and juicy, meeting perfectly with fresh cheese. The spice from the cayenne pepper didn’t overpower the rest of the flavors, but enhanced them. And the lime added a spark of freshness that made it easy to finish an entire cob of corn in under 2 minutes. After a look around, the smiles on everyone’s faces told us that we had a winner.
We found that creating the perfect Elote is all about the ingredients. Quality ingredients prepared with care will always have a delicious outcome. Much like popcorn, Elote is a blank slate for flavor.
As we experienced throughout our trip, everyone loves to customize their Elote, adding all sorts of different toppings and flavors. At Havsies, we do the same. There’s a popcorn flavor out there for everyone, and what better way to gain inspiration than from the streets of LA.
With inspiration from the perfect Elote, we created the perfect popcorn.
Elote. The taste of summer. It’s a vibe.