There are three things you need to know before you go to Antojitos las Delicias: Be prepared to wait because other people figured out the food is good here; be prepared to sit outside because there is no indoor component for the public; and, if you’re ordering the torta, be prepared to share it with someone else because it’s gigantic.
You’ll learn other things about Antojitos, a walk-up Mexican restaurant just east of MLK Drive in Winston-Salem, on your first visit, but these are the big three you should know before arriving. The fourth thing to keep in mind is implied: The food is well worth the trip.
The small East Fifth Street kitchen previously — and briefly — hosted a Jamaican restaurant named Kool Runnings, an homage to an idiotic comedy about a Jamaican bobsled team that entertained me to no end as a kid.
Antojitos las Delicias hasn’t been open long, but it appears to be faring much better, with a long line stretching back towards the curb on a recent Thursday at lunch filled with Latino laborers, white jocks-turned-suits, a couple families and the occasional neighbor walking up, keeping the wait around 30 minutes to order and receive food.[pullquote]Visit Antojitos las Delicias at 1521 E. Fifth St. (W-S) or at antojitos-las-delicias.com.[/pullquote]
When I first showed up at Antojitos soon after it opened — maybe a year ago for a casual lunch with Winston-Salem Journal food editor Michael Hastings — the line didn’t reach as far. But as I passed it weekly while running my former newspaper delivery route, I watched attendance steadily build. My recent excursion at the suggestion of Mission Pizza Napoletana owner Peyton Smith, who loves the place, is the longest I’d seen the line, but even then it proved worth the wait.
I’ll tell anyone who will listen that I favor burritos over tacos, even slipping my stance into our “Taco Town” cover story last week. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good taco, and the al pastor one I ordered at Antojitos is the best classic taco I’ve maybe ever had. Despite being a little overloaded with cilantro, it arrived more flavorful, more ready to be consumed than others I’ve tried. The lime juice, radish and hot sauce I added only enhanced the taste of the marinated pork and the fresh corn tortilla.
The gorditas — fist-sized pockets of meat, cheese and other goodies — are enjoyable here too, though I prefer the open-faced delivery method of the sopes, fried masa cakes topped with meat and veggies. Sopes, if you’re unfamiliar, look similar to tostadas, but the base is more akin to a fried corn pancake than a toasted tortilla. That often means less crunch but more flavor.
There aren’t any tostadas on the menu here, technically. But Antojitos does sell tlayudas, which can be compared to a pizza-sized tostada hailing from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca — a heavily indigenous area that also gives the world excellent craftsmanship, chocolates and moles. Huaraches are on the menu too, another item I recommend at Antojitos and one that is sort of like an oblong tostada popular in Mexico City.
Peyton said he’s enjoyed the enchiladas verdes here, and while the pupusas weren’t my favorite, I’m just glad to find decent pupusas revueltas around here.
Don’t rely on the online menu for a complete listing of options; several key meals are left off, including the tortas, or sandwiches. I’ve never seen a torta so big in my life.
Antojitos — a term synonymous with Mexican street food, which is appropriate for a restaurant offering only outdoor seating — offers a few different tortas, including one named for Germany featuring what looks like sliced hot dog, among other ingredients. But what’s most notable about the sandwiches is their heft, not just because of the fillings but also the massive pieces of bread themselves.
Come ready to share.
The best way to experience Antojitos is with friends anyway; they’ll make any wait time pass more quickly, and it will be easier to order a variety of things ranging from dishes you might eat a couple times a week to ones you may not have tried before. Think of it as Mexican tapas, with a few entrees and Central American staples thrown in.