Street Food Focus: Mexican Street Corn

By: Cyndi Amaya

There are so many reasons why I love living in Queens. Besides enjoying the cheaper rent, ample parking, and above-ground subways, Queens is the most culturally diverse borough in New York, which means the greatest thing for the ultimate foodie- a wide variety of food!

Jackson Heights in particular has the highest concentration of different ethnicities, all living just within minutes of Roosevelt Avenue- the Mecca of ethnic food, especially street food. Along Roosevelt between 69th street and Junction Boulevard, you can find Indian, Pakistani, Greek, Italian, Argentinean, Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Caribbean, Thai, and Chinese and I might even be forgetting a couple of other ethnicities.

The Mexican cuisine in Jackson Heights is legit, to say the least! You can find an array of brick-and-mortar Mexican restaurants but the best way to experience real Mexican food is through the various food trucks and carts along the avenue. And for the ultimate street food treat, Mexican Street Corn is a must-try!

My first encounter of this magnificent street food known as Elote, was right off of Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street. It was a bit chilly out and all of a sudden, a waft of grilled corn husks filled the air. The smell came from a small street vendor with a makeshift grill. I had to stop and take a gander. I then would be introduced to the best way to eat grilled corn on the face of this earth- Mexican style! The grilled sweet corn had the husks pulled back to use as a handle and was smothered with Mexican crema, chili powder, and Cotija cheese. The creamy, sweet, salty, and spicy corn just left me with one thought in mind: uh, hello! Where have you been all my life?!

Corn is a staple crop in Mexican cuisine, and although it's used in several forms and dishes, including tortillas, in soups, and in salsas, the Elote is hands-down the ultimate way to eat corn! I know what you're thinking- you have to try this Mexican delicacy! Don't fret, while the same vendor might be hard to find, since they tend to float around a lot around Roosevelt, this street food is clearly easy to recreate. Simply brush on a bit of Mexican crema (or mayonnaise, if you can't find crema) onto freshly grilled sweet corn, then roll the corn in chili powder and top it off with a sprinkle of grated Cotija cheese. It's simple enough to make and afterwards you too will be left with the inkling to ask how come you've never thought of covering your sweet corn with all of these Mexican deliciousness before, either?

Photo: I Believe I Can Fry

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