Smile Politely

Huaraches Moroleon is an Urbana gem

The bright orange building at the corner of a five-way stop sign serves some amazing Mexican cuisine. Opened in 2011, Huaraches Moroleon has become a staple of C-U. The Urbana restaurant is named after the dish huaraches, and also the owner’s hometown Moroleón in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.

When I first moved to town, this was one of the first restaurants someone took me to, and now it is in my regular rotation. When my kids were in preschool, this was the only restaurant in town that would serve hot, savory lunch (with free chips!) at 8 in the morning. As a mom who had been up since 5 a.m., that was amazing. Now, Huaraches Moroleon opens at 10 a.m. during the week and 9 a.m. on the weekends, but still, it is a place serving a filling lunch earlier than most places in town — and I love that.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Smile Politely has covered Huaraches Moroleon’s delicious Mexican food over the years beginning with our first review in 2012, Jess’ review in 2015excitement about new patio in 2017, and Remington’s review in 2018. Read what Seth said in 2019 about the neighborhood staple.

Huaraches Moroleon has made it into several lists, too: Matt’s round up of chicken burritos, Eating veggie-friendly Mexican, this nachos list, and a bunch of my lists: Churros in C-U, Bites to grab while your kid is in school, Takeout for date night inmy November list, and my very first article on Smile Politely.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The current menu does not include lunch specials as it did in years past. Everything has a dinner price. I get it: those pre-pandemic specials may not return here, but the food was worth the (affordable) dinner prices.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Even though the restaurant was very busy, a clear basket of hot chips and salsa were brought to our table immediately. These chips are one of my favorite chips in town: super crispy layered corn chips that held even the drippiest salsa. The audible crunch of the crinkly chips was satisfying, and the divets in the layers were perfect for capturing the salsa. Huaraches’ chips were complimentary, piping hot, and delivered within seconds of sitting; what’s not to love?


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The chips were served with a mild salsa, and back in the Before Times, the chips were served with four salsa carafes. Now, it’s just mild salsa that arrives to tables with the chips, but I asked for the other three salsas, and the staff happily brought them out — also complimentary. The green salsa is my favorite: a mild tomatillo salsa with a bright, refreshing taste. Everyone else at my table shared the same fave: the orange one. The orange salsa had a deep smoky chipotle flavor and a good kick. The flavors were similar to a really good chorizo but without the meat. The red salsa had visible seeds and was spicy with a sharp peppery punch.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

We were celebrating my sister’s birthday, and we ordered a variety of margaritas ($9.99 each). I ordered the mango margarita, my sister the strawberry, and my husband ordered the spicy margarita. My brother in law ordered the margarota ($1 extra), a lime margarita with a bottle of Corona. The margarota’s Corona went well with the lime, and the drink even came with a cute holder that held the upturned bottle in the margarita glass.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

These margaritas looked beautiful, and they were strong. We were not prepared for the medium to be 24 ounces, but we loved it. My margarita de mango was served on the rocks without a salted rim (no one asked, but I don’t mind) and was delish. It had a great thick nectar with mango sweetness and a great tequila taste. My sister’s goblet of margarita de fresa tasted a lot like spiked fruit punch. It was pretty sweet, pretty strong, and definitely fruity.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The best margarita was the spicy marg. The spicy margarita had a Tajin rim, and the sour-salty glass went well with the lime drink. The jalapeño slices in the drink were de-seeded and so it didn’t actually taste that spicy. I think the jalapeños were more for show than spice.

Other drinks on the menu include bottled beers, draft Modelo and Corona, Coke products, brewed iced tea, Arnold Palmer, horchata, hibiscus water, acapulco cocktail, paloma, cantarito, sangria, and a drink called michelada la marabunta which is a Mexican drink made with beer, lime juice, tomato juice, and chili peppers served with shrimp around the rim of the glass and an upturned Corona.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

We ordered a variety of food. I usually order the chicken fajitas or the al pastor tacos which are both amazing, but I tried an appetizer and a dinner option that I hadn’t had before for this review.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I ordered the titular item on the menu: the huarache. I tried the steak huarache ($8.99) which had a handmade masa dough folded over the steak and cheese filling. The huarache can be made with al pastor, barbacoa, carnitas, chicken, chicharron, chorizo, ground beef, nopales, steak, or veggies. I was slightly disappointed at the pale pineapple, but the filling was good. To me, the huarache tasted a lot like a steak quesadilla but with less cheese. The chopped steak was cooked through, and the flavors inside were as tasty as the from-scratch masa cake outside.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I ordered the alpastoricito dinner ($11.99) with corn tortillas. I love trying new dishes because sometimes it becomes my new favorite, and this is definitely my new favorite thing to eat at Huaraches Moroleon. The most amazing marinated pork with grilled pineapple chunks was served with slivers of softened white onions and topped with cilantro and a few strings of shredded cheese. The dinner came with pinto beans, rice, and tortillas (choice of corn or flour).

The diced pork was super good especially with pineapple chunks. The savory, porky flavor was well balanced with the grilled sweetness of the pineapple. Everything was saturated with the reddish sauce, and a few bites had fatty bits on the pork which melted in my mouth. The pork and onions could be added to the provided corn tortillas, but I just couldn’t stop eating the alpastoricito to even reach for the tortillas. This dish was truly amazing.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

My husband ordered three barbacoa tacos ($8.25) which are available a la carte. Tacos at Huaraches Moroleon are served on corn tortillas with cilantro and onions. For $2.75 each, tacos can have al pastor, barbacoa, carnitas, chicken, chicharron, chorizo, ground beef, nopales, and veggies. For an extra 25 cents, the tacos can have cabeza, campechanos, lengua, steak, smoked pork chop, or tripas. There was also a shrimp taco on the menu for $3.50.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Our server said the barbacoa was his favorite meat on the menu, and the barbacoa tacos were incredible. The slow roasted barbacoa was pulled into tender strings and tasted so flavorful. It was not spicy, just delicious savory meat. The chopped onions, cilantro, and limes were great on the tacos, too. For less than $3 a taco, this dish was a good bang for the buck.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

My sister ordered the barbacoa sope ($5.99) which came with cheese, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a choice of protein. The protein options were the same as the huarache, and my sister chose barbacoa. The sope had a thick handmade corn tortilla which was a soft bottom for the layered dish. The cheese and sour cream were generous for the small tortilla, and they gave a great creamy taste. The pico and lettuce were cold and had a good crunch. The beans were awesome, and my sister (who isn’t a bean fan) really liked them.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

My brother in law ordered the carnitas chimichanga ($11.99) which was a gloriously cheesy meal. The chimichanga was served with a side of lettuce, pico, and sour cream. The soft burrito was filled with rice, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and chosen protein, topped with shredded cheese and flooded with queso. The carnitas inside the burrito were so tender. The chimichanga was amazing because of the queso: it went well with everything. There was plenty queso on the plate which made for tasty drags of burrito bites in the pool of queso and even chips, too. If you like your food covered in cheese, Huaraches’ chimichanga has you (and your burrito) covered.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Huaraches Moroleon is a town staple for Mexican food, and it is for very good reason. I am always finding reasons to go here with different people. There are not many tables inside the orange building, but there are tables on the patio outside, too. Parking can be tricky with only a few spots, but somehow there’s always a spot in front or on the street. Because this restaurant opens at 10 a.m. which is a rarity in C-U for filling, savory dishes at that hour, I appreciate the option for an early lunch — and early margaritas.

Visit the restaurant for dining inside and on the patio. Order online here.

Huaraches Moroleon
805 Philo Rd
Urbana
T-F 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sa 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Su 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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