Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita is full of elote, a corny Mexican street treat

Corn on the cob is a Kansas summertime favorite.

But in Mexico, street vendors significantly up the ante on corn ears, serving them slathered with butter, lime-infused mayo, chili powder and cheese. Now, that famous street treat – known as elote (ay-LO-tay) – is becoming popular in Wichita as well.

Though it’s not sold in many Mexican restaurants locally, elote is becoming a more popular side dish. It’s most commonly found locally on food trucks or in paleterias – ice cream stores that also serve Mexican food. But some mainstream Mexican restaurants, like Molino’s, carry excellent versions, too.

The mixture of ingredients produces a sweet, rich dish that’s almost more dessert than vegetable.

Elote is served two different ways. Some cooks keep it on the cob, with the toppings clinging to the ear. Others shave the corn from the cob, mix it with the mayo, butter, lime and cheese and serve it in a cup.

Elote can sometimes be a hard sell in Wichita, said Monica Gonzales, who sells elote on the cob out of her Monica’s Homemade Mexican Food Truck. Her customers are sometimes unsure that mayonnaise and corn should mix.

But that hesitation only lasts until they try it.

“They keep coming back for it,” she said. “They say, ‘There’s something about that mayo.’ 

Gonzales said she learned to make elote from her mother, Maria. She serves the corn every day her food truck is operating, and hers is available sprinkled with hot or mild chili powder.

The secret to good elote served on the cob, she said, is adding generous amounts of butter and salt to the water the corn is boiled in. If you salt the corn after it’s boiled, it doesn’t turn out as well, she said.

And cup versions of the treat are best if the corn is shaved from the cob, she said. Canned corn just doesn’t produce the same results.

Following is a list of some of the Wichita trucks and restaurants that have elote on the menu.

Molino’s Mexican Cuisine, 1064 N. Waco and 7817 E. 37th St. North: Molino’s serves elote as a side dish in a square-shaped cup, and its version is good. The bottom layer is hot corn mixed with mayo, butter and lime. It’s then topped with a generous pile of shredded white cheese, chili powder and a slice of lime. It’s good by the spoonful or used to top tacos and other dishes like nachos and gorditas.

District Taqueria, 917 E. Douglas: This downtown upscale taqueria serves “Mexican corn,” a version of elote that features a grilled cob topped with Mexican crema, cotija cheese and a chili-garlic-lime salt.

Paleteria La Reyna, 2925 N. Arkansas: This Mexican restaurant and ice cream shop also has elote, and the servings are large. It comes in a tall Styrofoam cup and mixes all the traditional elote ingredients.

Paleterias Tropicana, 2021 N. Amidon: Another Mexican restaurant and ice cream shop, this one also serves its elote in a cup and topped with lots of cheese.

Monica’s Homemade Mexican Food Truck: Monica Gonzales serves her elote on a stick, slathered with butter and mayonnaise and chili powder then rolled in Parmesan cheese. The truck is parked on the southeast corner of Maple and Seneca from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and at 824 S. Seneca from 3 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Chino’s Parrilla: This food and catering truck isn’t always out, but when it is, it has elote. Sometimes it serves it in a cup. Sometimes it serves it on the cob. Chino’s Parrilla will be at Sunday’s Food Trucks at the Fountain event, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wichita WaterWalk, 515 S. Main, and it will have its elote on the cob.

Chino’s Mexican Grill: Elote also is sometimes called esquite, and that’s what this food truck serves. It comes in a cup.

Goyo’s Mexican Fast Food: This restaurant should open soon in Park City. It’s owned by Mara Mendez, the daughter of Molino’s owners, and she’ll serve the restaurant’s famous elote in a cup, too.