This weekend, the big Mexican Independence Day parade will wind its way down 26th Street and one of the restaurants sure to do big business will be Nuevo Leon. They pride themselves on cooking home-style Mexican food, which, naturally, includes lots of fresh avocados.
More than just about any ingredient in the Mexican kitchen, avocados are king. This time of year, many of them are coming directly from Mexico; typically mashed, then topped with a homemade pico de gallo of tomatoes, onions and cilantro for chip dipping, they play a major role on the menu at Nuevo Leon, tucked into the heart of the Little Village neighborhood.
"They're used differently, everybody has their own way. You can even prepare a cold soup out of it, there's different ways of preparing everything...it can be added to citrus fruit also," said Laura Gutierrez of Nuevo Leon.
In the kitchen, they cut avocados into cubes, adding them to a citrusy, tomatoey cocktail glass with cooked shrimp. For crispy flautas, they add a rough mash of avocado to the top, then cover that creamy base with crunchy, pickled carrots and a shower of queso fresco.
"It complements, just being an appetizer, on top of nachos, it adds to the flautas, it adds that creamy taste to them," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez says not only is the flavor notable, but they add a crucial textural balance to a lot of other dishes.
"The texture of the shrimp, and then the avocado, you bite into something creamier," said Gutierrez.
The big parade along 26th Street begins around noon on Sunday.
3659 W. 26th St.