Antojitos: Latin American Street Foods
Food: Interviews & Features
The term antojitos evokes a sense of comfort and indulgence. It’s defined by the sweet, savory and, at times, spicy street foods beloved by the Latin American countries these comfort snacks hail from. Antojitos translates literally to “little cravings,” which is the most appropriate way to introduce the following five local businesses that successfully left us craving more. Whether it’s a street vendor, bakery or shop within the Indoor Swap Meet, each location generously shares what their culture has to offer and satisfies your cravings.
1500 W. 3500 South, West Valley
Thursday–Friday: 12 p.m.–7 p.m. • Saturday: 10 a.m.–7 p.m. • Sunday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
There’s no conception of comfort food that doesn’t involve sugar—and lots of it. If you’re looking for a sweet-tooth boost after enjoying some of the fatty, savory dishes presented here, head down to West Valley’s Indoor Swap Meet for your candy-related needs. Amid a maze of shops selling household/clothing necessities alongside tarot readings and a slew of random trinkets, the Indoor Swap Meet houses a couple of candy stores that dish out the finest in all things sweet and sour. The finest of these is the Dulcería Mayoreo (On Facebook @DulceriaMayoreo), a paradise of South and Central American packaged treats.
Walking into this vibrant, rainbow-colored shop, you’ll stand against rows of sweets stacked to the ceiling—doubtlessly an overwhelming experience. Should you feel particularly wanting and lack a certain self-restraint, it’d be easy to fork over an inordinate amount of cash in exchange for garbage bags full of candy. I tried to keep it under $10, and still walked away with a hefty stack of goods. Among them were a host of tamarind candies (the best being the classic packet of sugared pulp, the most intense a dense ball of sour paste) and—a longtime favorite—the fruit-paste-filled Gansito chocolates. The best part about this particular stop on our comfort food tour is that it feels the most bottomless—you could return again and again to Dulcería Mayoreo at the Indoor Swap Meet and still take away new finds every time. –Audrey Lockie
Like many dishes that originated in Spain, you can trace staple foods such as empanadas throughout South and Central American history, with each region celebrating their own version of the dish. The easiest way to describe the empanada is to picture a small pocket made out of cornmeal, corn flour or wheat flour (this can vary depending on the region) with a sweet or savory filling—oftentimes ground beef, chicken, vegetables, fruit or even cheese.
Edith Romero of Edith’s Empanadas is originally from Colombia and is proud to offer Colombian-style empanadas to Provo and Salt Lake City. With the help of her daughter, Eliana Cabrera, Edith started going through the motions of building the business from the ground up, and the two have worked together to make, package and conduct pickups in Salt Lake and Provo every Thursday–Sunday. Both having lost their main sources of income due to COVID-19, the idea to sell empanadas offered a creative solution to their financial misfortunes.
My order from Edith’s Empanadas included four chicken, four beef and four veggie empanadas as I wanted to try everything they had to offer. Ordering a variety of their three styles is the way to go—each one is savory and filling. The chicken was my favorite. All of their menu items are gluten and dairy free, and they always come with a side of homemade secret cilantro sauce. Learn more about Romero and Cabrera and follow their journey on their website (edithsempanadas.com) and their Instagram (@edithsempanadas). –Bianca Velasquez
904 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City, UT
Monday–Sunday: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
With most of my childhood spent in a diverse part of Southern California, the line between my own Honduran background and the Mexican and additional South/Central American influences that saturated our neighborhood has always been a fine one. One of the breakfast staples I am grateful to have been brought up with is Mexico’s pan dulce (sweet bread), a brioche-style pastry with a streusel scored topping.
West Valley’s Panadería Flores offers a traditional selection of pan dulce, including a range of sweet and savory breads perfect to dip into your coffee or Abuelita Chocolate to kick off your day. The most well-known types of pan dulce include the concha, pierna de pollo con pina, cuerno, galleta (cookie) and cortadillo. Panadería Flores offers these and many more for the low price of about $5 for a dozen of your choice. It was a nice surprise that, for only 50 cents more, you can take home a tablet of Abuelita Chocolate, Nestle’s Mexican-style hot chocolate.
Other traditional Mexican desserts and pastries Panadería Flores shares with our community include tres leches cake (sponge cake saturated in evaporated milk, condensed milk and whole milk), flan (custard dessert with a caramel sauce on top) and a variety of Mexican candy. Being a small space, Panadería Flores are taking every precaution to keep their customers and employees safe in a COVID-19 world by only allowing one customer in at a time. Their helpful and friendly staff are there to make your selection process a quick one, helping the line go fast! –Bianca Velasquez
3630 W. 3500 South, West Valley, Utah
Sunday–Thursday: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. • Friday–Saturday: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
This might be the COVID-19 isolation speaking, but FrutyLandia has been the most exciting discovery 2020 has had to offer. The family-owned fruit and authentic Mexican munchies hotspot started as a food truck and developed into a storefront in West Valley. Projected to open in March, their debut was postponed until May amid the COVID-19 lockdown. FrutyLandia recovered quickly from the setback and proved to be a wild success once they opened.
Their menu features a wide selection of customizable “munchies,” fruits and sweets, including their popular items such as the Vaso Loko and Icy Loko. Ordering the Vaso Loko includes three steps: Choose your cup size, choose your juice and choose your toppings. The same process is used for the Icy Loko with the exception of choosing ice cream instead of juice. The juices and ice cream flavors are homemade, water-based and vegan, excluding the milk-based options. Toppings include an overwhelming range of fruit, candy, sauces and churros. Unlike most “build your own dessert” places, FrutyLandia does not charge by weight but by cup size, so add all toppings you desire!
Obviously, FrutyLandia is a big fan of patron autonomy, so the possibilities with their “munchies” and other sweet items are just as endless. Notable mentions include the Elote (street corn with Takis, Hot Cheetos and Cheetos), Churros with ice cream and their Volcano de Elote (street corn in a cup surrounded by your choice of chips topped with nacho cheese). You can learn more about them at frutylandiaslc.com and through their Instagram (@frutylandia). –Bianca Velasquez
El Jaripeo Taco Cart
Smith’s Parking Lot • 1174 W. 600 North
Sunday–Saturday: 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Taco carts are a staple of comfort food, a surefire blend of everything necessary for a gastronomic pick-me-up: quick, inexpensive and (at their best) more delicious than anything you’d find in a sit-down restaurant. At the El Jaripeo Taco Cart, eternally located in the parking lot of the Rose Park Smith’s on 600 North, this comfort comes in the form of savory street tacos. Grilling and preparing each taco fresh per order, El Jaripeo has become a staple of its neighborhood—from open to close, seven days a week, I’ve never seen an empty line.
During my latest trip, I took home the Al Pastor, Asada and Pollo tacos, all tossed onto one plate and properly covered in cilantro, onions, sweet corn, shredded lettuce and radish chips. All three offerings were delightful, but the Al Pastor is one of El Jaripeo’s must-have dishes. The rich Al Pastor sauce offered a delectable, creamy counterpart to the bite of the raw veggies, but not so much as to take away the spicy savoriness of the finely grilled pork chunks. It’s the kind of food that literally warms your soul, from the bite of the peppers on your tongue to the flood of heat that erupts when the food reaches your stomach. If you’re on your way home with a bag full of groceries that you just don’t have the energy to cook that day, El Jaripeo is on hand to curb your hunger—and for $1.25 a taco, you really have no reason to pass them up. –Audrey Lockie