Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2008 issue.

As clay is transformed into amazing artifacts in the hands of a ceramist, the dough used to make corn tortillas, known as masa, can also result in these delicious traditional treats commonly found in mercados and other casual eateries throughout Mexico.

Sopes are shaped essentially the same as a tortilla, but the dough is thicker and commonly features a border to keep their toppings from spilling, created by delicately pinching the dough with your fingertips (hence “pellizcadas,” another common name for sopes, which literally means “pinched”). On the other hand, huaraches are named for their oblong shape, which resembles that of sandals.

Speaking of toppings, traditional sopes and huaraches are frequently covered with a layer of refried beans, finely chopped onion and lettuce, sour cream, shredded cheese and red or green salsa. Additionally, a variety of toppings consisting of cooked dishes and stews (shredded beef or chicken, squash blossoms, and poblano peppers and corn, to name a few) are often available and can be requested.

Regardless of their shape, the end result is as tipico as it gets, and the best way to explore these staple dishes is to try the different toppings. Soon enough, you’ll find your favorite!