Sopapillas at Taco Cabana

Categories: Fast Times

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Last Tuesday, Taco Cabana gave away free sopapillas. "Free what?!" asked a man at the next table, when the manager offered to bring him an order. No wonder Taco Cabana was giving them away; how can you sell something if customers don't know what it is?

I wouldn't have a clue, either, except I once lived blocks away from Old Town Albuquerque, where sopapillas were born, and have been served for more than 200 years. I've eaten scores of them, so I know what they're supposed to taste like, too.

Sopapillas are colloquially known as "soapy pillows," or in bad Spanish translation, "little pillows," because that's what they look like. They are little puffed rectangles, the size of your hand, made of flour, milk, baking powder or yeast, and shortening.

Sopapillas are deep-fried in oil, and come out billowy and chewy, with an empty center that can be stuffed with taco-like fillings, or served with honey for an after-dinner treat. They are reminiscent of beignets, except beignets include egg and sugar in the dough.

Normally the only thing I order at Taco Cabana are beef tacos--fair enough, considering the name--but I was curious to see if TC could pull off sopapillas. The free order consisted of four puffy triangles, which, if assembled together, would be the same size as the traditional rectangle. Two of the triangles were pliable and chewy, and tasted just the way a sopapilla should. The other two were slightly over-fried and fell more into the category of a crisp, but were delicious nonetheless.

They also had a slight dusting of cinnamon, which is a legitimate but rare option for authentic sopapillas. However, the order included a dulce de leche sauce, which tastes similar to the filling of a Bavarian crème donut, but is less sweet and more the consistency of lotion. The sauce was perfect for the little triangles, and I prefer it to the tradition of eating sopapillas with honey.

The big question: Will I actually buy them, at $2.49 for an order of eight, including sauce and honey? Yes, every time I go there for tacos, with that impressive salsa bar.



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15 comments
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Farley Flavors
Farley Flavors

Excellent free sopapillas served with Pappasito's brunch.

bibulb
bibulb

Word of note - they don't travel well. They're still rather tasty, but they flatten out into thin lumps by the time you get them home. 

TheW
TheW

Sopapillas should never have cinnamon sprinkled on them. Horrifying, and the primary reason I don't eat them in Texas (that, plus the instances where you also get powdered sugar). Sopapillas are to be served WITH your main course (never as dessert) - they can either be used to sop up the red or green chile sauce or eaten on their own with honey. The proper honey application method is to rip off a corner of the sopapilla, drizzle honey inside the hole, and slowly move the sopapilla around to evenly distribute the honey around the interior.

A good sopapilla makes a big plate of green chile cheese enchiladas (flat, not rolled, of course) even better! I grew up in NM. :-)

Ralphy
Ralphy

This is what I mean by they are not the same in Texas as in New Mexico.  We don't even normally have red and green saucees to sop, just good ole chili gravy, not that there's anything wrong with New Mexico enchiladas.  Quite the contrary.  They are different and so are the sopapillas and I had some today on Irvington Street.  They were divinely coated with cinnamon and sugar, and tasted juuust right.

Guest
Guest

Good point, Ralphy.  I'm just not accustomed to the cinnamon, and since Taco Cabana's sopapillas taste a little bit like churros, I'm certain I'll learn to appreciate the difference.

Guest
Guest

Absolutely.  Cinnamon is not a good option, and it seems like it would be easier for TC to just serve a full-size sopapilla.  But they are what they are, and while orders will include honey, the dulce de leche was surprisingly good.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I prefer Pancho's sopapillas.

trisch
trisch

Mmmmm....fond memories of choking down tacos as fast as I could in order to get at those sopapillas and honey!

Ginny Braud
Ginny Braud

I could stuff myself silly @ a tex-mex place but somehow, *always* have room for sopapillas.

rgwalt
rgwalt

Would be nice if they served them with butter whipped with honey... yum!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Sopapillas: the Tex-Mex beignets. Love it.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Correction: New-Mex beignets, not Tex-Mex.  Unless JK is mistaken.

trisch
trisch

Don't think either are mistaken.  I think it's like trying to attribute bread to France or noodles to Italy.  Sopapillas have a long history in Texas, New Mexico and many of the South American countries.

Ralphy
Ralphy

Sopapillas are much different here than in New Mexico, it seems.  I did ask for some at Taco Cabana once and the register guy had no clue what I was talking about.  It was on their catering menu that was on the counter, but not on their restaurant menu.  In any event, it's not like it's a unique item here.  Most Tex-Mex places haved them on the menu. 

Todd Gregory
Todd Gregory

I love Sopapillas.. First had them in New Mexico and an authentic restaurant in old town. 

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