Huaraches Moroleon is not exactly close to Downtown Urbana. It’s situated on an awkward corner between Washington, Philo, and Cottage Grove. Parking is equally awkward — if there aren’t any spots in the restaurant’s small lot, most people park along Philo Road’s oversized shoulder. The distance and location are of little consequence, though, as the food at Huaraches Moroleon is well worth the trip. The lunch and dinner options are delicious, and I’d recommend visiting lunch or dinner. Most recently, though, I went for breakfast and was quite impressed.
When I pulled up a few mornings ago, there was a fire truck parked along Philo Road, and since I didn’t see any flames shooting out of the windows or smoke billowing from the roof, I could only assume that the restaurant was full of fire fighters. Fire fighters. At a Mexican restaurant. I couldn’t have scripted a more stereotypical situation — it was straight out of an antacid commercial.
Aside from the handful of Urbana’s fire fighters sitting in the back, there were a couple of other occupied tables. The waitress welcomed us and told us to take a seat wherever we’d like. The light that morning was quite dramatic, and we took a seat by the window, in the shadow of a massive aloe plant. Menus were placed on the brightly striped tablecloth, and drink orders were taken immediately. The breakfast menu is fairly lengthy, and includes Mexican entrées like chilaquiles and breakfast-themed huaraches, American breakfasts featuring pancakes, eggs, and bacon/sausage, and plenty of things in between, including omelettes and breakfast burritos. Prices range between $6 and $8 per entrée, and portions are pretty large.
I ordered the huaraches chilaquiles ($6.50). Chilaquiles are quartered and fried tortillas — like tortilla chips — that are doused/tossed/garnished with salsa. Some cook the tortillas and salsa down so that the tortillas get a little soggy, but Huaraches doesn’t do this. The tortillas were covered in medium salsa (my choice; you can choose mild, medium, hot, or none) and remained crispy, with just a little bit of softness developing as the pile of chilaquiles sat on my plate. With the chilaquiles were two eggs (over-medium, again my choice), rice, and refried beans. The combination of flavors and textures were incredibly delicious. The medium salsa on the tortillas was spicy, but a little tangy. The heat of the chili peppers within the salsa lent a dry heat to the back of the throat toward the end of the taste, but this was cooled by the creaminess of dollop of sour cream on the chilaquiles and the refried beans. The rice added a nice middle ground of texture to a plate of crunchy tortillas and soft eggs and beans. It also helped neutralize the spiciness of the salsa.
On another visit, I ate the breakfast huarache ($6.75). It was topped with beans, cheese, and scrambled eggs and served with the diner’s choice of meat (pork chop, chicken, chorizo), rice, and beans. I decided to go without meat, and instead asked for some veggies mixed in. The huarache was well loaded with eggs and veggies and topped with cheese. Peppers, onions, and mushrooms were scrambled in with the eggs, and the contrast of tender-crisp vegetable and soft egg played well with the firm but soft masa base. I doused my plate with some hot sauce and ate everything.
I also sampled an omelette with broccoli, pickled jalapeños, onions, and cheese ($7.50). It was served with diced potatoes and choice of tortillas or toast (white or wheat). The omelette looked beautiful, and tasted pretty good. The fillings were folded in rather than cooked in. The onions and jalapeños made it flavorful and a bit spicy. The white toast was thick and a nice, neutral respite from the heat and flavor of the eggs. The potatoes were the least exciting and delicious thing on the plate. Overall, though, it was a standard plate of breakfast food.
The service at the restaurant was polite, but not overbearing. My coffee cup was always full and the coffee was just as good as any other eatery’s. Huaraches serves beer and margaritas, but has no brunch cocktail menu. Although the restaurant is small, there are a few seating arrangements that can accommodate larger parties. There are high chairs for kids, and plenty of options on the kids menu for all meals. And while the omelette dish was good, I’d recommend a selection from “The Other Side of the Border” menu heading — this is what Huaraches does best.
Huaraches Moroleon is located at 805 Philo Road, Urbana and open Monday 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Breakfast is served until noon.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.