Cure for the Common Breakfast Burrito: Lempira Restaurant's Baleada
In theory the breakfast burrito is a beautiful thing -- eggs, beans, cheese, perhaps a little avocado or chorizo. What's not to like? But too often what should be well-composed torpedoes of taste become messy bombs of blandness -- jumbles of too many ingredients, each fighting for dominance, with none quite winning.
Enter the Honduran egg and avocado baleada served up at Lempira, a mere wisp of a restaurant hidden in a strip mall just east of Thai Town.
Often called the taco or burrito of Honduras, in its simplest form, the baleada (spelled "baliada" at Lempira) is a flour tortilla filled with fried beans, cheese and crema. Lempira offers the basic variety for $1.75, but we recommend spending an extra fifty cents and indulging in the baliada con huevo y aguacate.
After ordering at the counter, you'll have to wait patiently at your table as the baleada is carefully prepared. But there is a partial view of the kitchen for distraction, so you can watch as your flour tortilla is pressed and grilled and as the avocado is pitted and sliced, all set to the hiss of the eggs sizzling on the grill.
When the finally plate emerges, it is austere -- the unadorned folded tortilla a pale half moon with brown sear marks for craters. But the simplicity of its appearance belies the improbable complexity of its flavor. The puffy tortilla is moist, slightly chewy and thicker than most. And inside this sheath there is a harmony of fresh ingredients -- creamy avocado, cool crema, buttery scrambled eggs, a sprinkling of sharp cheese, and lightly charred fried beans. The flavors play well together, each accentuating the others without dulling or overpowering. It is everything you always hoped a breakfast burrito could be.