Restaurant Recommendation: Carmela’s, Arcata, California


Carmela's huarache Arcata California

We spent most of June in the U.S., including two weeks doing an epic road trip up the iconic Highway 101, starting from Mountain View, California and making our way eventually to Seattle, Washington.

One of the things I love about going back to the States is access to a variety of good food from different types of cuisine.

Mexican cuisine is one of my favorites, and I made a new discovery during our stop in Arcata, California in the form of the huarache.

I’d never heard of or seen this dish before, and I ordered it on the recommendation of our friendly waiter at Carmela’s on G St. in the historic downtown of Arcata. All I knew initially was that “huarache” means “sandal” in Spanish.

This Mexican dish has oval-shaped masa at the base. I’m guessing it’s called “huarache” because it’s shaped like a sandal. It’s topped with pinto beans, cactus and queso fresco. I asked for chicken to be added to my dish.

I was immediately hooked with the first bite. The masa is savory, and the cactus that Carmela’s uses is pickled, which brightens the dish with a slight piquancy.

As far as I’m concerned, huaraches are guilt free because they’re full of legumes and veg.

I asked for them every time we ate at a Mexican place, but I only found them in Arcata. It’s too bad that the huarache is not a more widespread dish. It will be a long while before I have the pleasure of indulging in another one.