This week everyone’s been focused on the big game, I figured this installment of Food Fight should focus on sopes—it’s the Sope Bowl! (Sorry, I can’t resist such a good pun!)
Sopes are delicious small bites that start with a little round of fried masa topped with meat and vegetables. I headed to two of my favorite Mexican restaurants to see who makes a superior sope.
Round 1: Taqueria del Mar
Tucked away on Lighthouse Avenue, Taqueria del Mar makes some of the freshest and most flavorful Mexican food in town. I usually find myself here for lunch about once a week, usually enjoying a simple lunch of a taco and a limon Jarritos. But the other day I was looking for something different, so I opted for a chicken sope ($4.49).
My sope arrived topped with generous portion of fresh vegetables—chopped cabbage and pico de gallo—and shredded chicken, with a touch of sour cream. When I cut off a wedge of the masa foundation, it was thick and doughy. Hmmm. This was certainly a change from the usual fried “cracker” in most sopes. Needless to say, I was a little skeptical how it would taste, but the masa was light, not gummy. It was seasoned on the grill, giving it a bit of chile flavor.
As I made my way through the heaping plate of food, I was impressed how such a large portion didn’t feel overly heavy. It was a great value for lunch.
Taqueria del Mar is at 530 Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey. 831-372-7887. www.yelp.com/biz/taqueria-del-mar-monterey
Round 2: Rosa’s La Villa Taqueria
When I popped into Rosa’s La Villa Taqueria for dinner the other night, I wasn’t terribly hungry, so I decided to make a small bite dinner—a cup of albondigas soup ($4.50) and a half-order of chicken sopes (three for $6.95; also available as a full order of five for $9.95).
The sopes followed the traditional recipe—a small round of masa fried crispy, a bit like a thick tortilla chip. The masa was nice and crispy, and despite being fried, it wasn’t greasy. The sopes were topped with a small dollop of tender shredded chicken, then a generous sprinkling of iceberg lettuce.
I was a little disappointed by the lackluster lettuce—it was watery and bland, killing the flavor of the chicken underneath. The tomatoes were likewise a disappointment—completely flavorless, like those boring Styrofoam tomatoes you get at a cheap deli counter.
Thankfully, the albondigas soup was flavorful enough to make up for the shortcomings of the sopes.
Rosa’s La Villa Taqueria is at 766 Broadway Avenue. 831-920-4979. rosaslavilla.com
Rosa’s La Villa Taqueria usually gets my vote for the best Mexican restaurant in town, but I have to admit that the sopes were a bit of a letdown—the first dish that’s truly underwhelmed me at this little taqueria.
This time, Taqueria del Mar came out the clear victor, without any questions about this referee’s calls.