A Fork on the Road

Humble Mexican dishes hit the spot in Hallandale


If you go

Place: Chapultepec Mexican Bar & Restaurant

Address: 23 NW Second Ave. (at Hallandale Beach Boulevard), Hallandale Beach

Contact: 954-456-0771

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon Sunday

Prices: Appetizers $2-$5.99, soups $6.99-$14.99, tacos $1.99, entrees $6-$14.99

F.Y.I. Beers are six for $20 from 9 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, when a DJ performs.

Side dish

Chiles in Cream Sauce

This dish, adapted from “Frida’s Feasts” by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle (Clarkson Potter, 1994), is good served over corn bread, polenta, pasta, chicken or fish.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1 large onion, thinly sliced

8 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut in strips

2 cups cream

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion until translucent. Add chile strips and cook 2 minutes. Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper to taste, and heat through. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 310 calories (81 percent rom fat), 28.4 g fat (17.5 g saturated, 7.9 g monounsaturated), 98 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g protein, 11.7 g carbohydrate, 0.6 g fiber, 80 mg sodium.

You won’t find goldfish bowl-size margaritas at barebones Chapultepec Mexican, but you can wash a taco down with a cold cerveza.

The food is home-style, and most of the customers are of Mexican descent, many training horses at nearby Gulfstream Park. Dishes are cooked to order, but chips with house hot sauces and salsa arrive quickly.

Sylvia Ayala does the cooking, and her daughter Karla Nunez and son Juan Carlos Marin help manage. They left Ciudad Juarez two decades ago, settling in South Florida where Sylvia had brothers.

They opened the eatery 10 years ago, choosing a name that means “at the grasshopper hill” in the indigenous language Nahuatl, after a natural rock formation sacred to the ancients that’s now in a Mexico City park.

Soups to try include pozole with red pork broth and soft hominy served with cabbage, radishes and cilantro to mix in with a squeeze of lime. There’s also seafood soup brimming with crab, shrimp and fish served with a basket of warm corn tortillas.

Snacks that make meals include gorditas, sopes and huaraches, all based on thick, hand-patted corn cakes topped or slit and stuffed with meat or beans and sour cream. Enchiladas rojas are baked in sweet-spicy sauce made from pureed roasted peppers, onions, tomato and crema.

There’s also chicken in a dark, complex mole poblano from Puebla made from dried and soaked chiles ground with spices, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds and chocolate, plus pork chops cooked with strips of nopales cactus in spicy salsa verde. Viva Mexico!

Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who can be reached at lbb75@bellsouth.net.

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