Tender corn on the cob, coated in Mexican mayonnaise and crumbly cheese; you get sweet corn and savory topping in every bite. Elote are a Mexican treat that you can find at several places in South Nashville. Elotes Nayarit is a teeny, tiny little taqueria that finally brings some authentic Mexican food to Madison and, needless to say, they pride themselves on their elotes.
We’ve been meaning to eat at Elotes Nayarit for months. It’s easy to miss: just a little concrete building next to El Parasio Super Mercado, just south of Old Hickory Blvd. Look for the bright colors and the hand painted sign declaring elotes. Lunch time on a Saturday finds most of the six tables filled with families. The menu board lists the line-up and it’s pretty simple: elotes, tortas (Mexican sandwiches), quesadillas, sopes (fried maize masa), carne asada tostadas, chicharron (fried pork rinds) and menudo (tripe soup). We start with platanos fritos, which are plantains split down the middle and then lightly fried. Plantains are the cousin of the banana, a little less sweet and with more of a sweet potato texture and flavor. Elotes Nayarit serves them up with crumbled cheese and crema. They offered strawberry jam as well, which could be just the hint of sweetness needed. It’s a good starter.
The elote came out and everything else faded into the background. The corn is perfectly cooked and the topping oozes over it all. We made the mistake of ordering just one and then fighting over it: they are that good. You can also get chili pepper sprinkled over the mayo and queso if you want to shake it up.
The waitress didn’t know any English. She summoned a fellow back from the kitchen who was more than happy to help us. I think she was more worried about it than us. At this point we have enough Spanish to make sure the veggie eater just gets vegetarian stuff and our order turns out as expected. The pastor torta is good, perhaps a little lacking in the dressing department (I’m a sucker for mayo and cheese on my torta).
Many folks were ordering up the carne asada tostados. The meat looked nicely grilled and everyone was polishing off the plate. They serve up a nice variety of salsas at Elotes Nayarit. There’s a slightly creamy hot red sauce and very spicy verde sauce. The pico de gallo seems to have tomatillos, a nice twist.
Elotes Nayarit has several Aguas de Frutas available. These homemade drinks are favorites in Mexico, featuring mashed up fruit pulp and sugar. We went with pineapple and found it fresh, fruity and not too sweet.
Veggie Eater: The menu does not have many veggie friendly items, but it is easy enough to substitute frijoles and queso for the meat items. I had a bean and cheese sope; not very inventive, but satisfying. What really rocks is the elote. Don’t get me wrong, I love corn, but had no idea it could be this fantastic. As meat eater noted above, I pronounced sadness about halfway through the ear of corn that we had opted to share it.
Meat Eater: This is among the most authentic Mexican restaurant food you can find north of Briley. Don’t be put off by the handmade signs and do it yourself exterior. Elotes Nayarit is down home and quite welcoming and those elotes are definitely worth a visit. By the way Nayarit is a state in Mexico on the Pacific west coast. It’s a place known for seafood, so I was a bit surprised to see very little seafood on the menu, just shrimp. Perhaps that will be an area they explore in the future. I’d like to see what they do. Prices range from $2.50 to $3 for most menu items. The carne asada and menudo goes up into the $8 range. We paid $21 with tip due to mucho sampling.