HONDURAS. The humble baleada (BAH-LEE-AH-DAH) is well-known all over mainland Honduras and the Bay Islands chain on the country’s Caribbean coast. It is cheap, simple and made from easy to find ingredients which is why it’s so popular in this country. You can find people from all over enjoying a baleada, no matter their age or social status.
To make a baleada, a tortilla is freshly prepared and put on a grill to cook. Once it is cooked and pliable with a couple yummy charred spots, refried beans are slathered on and topped with your choice of items: a baleada sencilla (simple baleada) is just refried beans, mantequilla (runny sour cream) and queso (a hard cheese similar to feta), or you can go crazy and add shredded chicken, carne asada (roast beef), scrambled eggs, avocado, pickled onions, spicy peppers or even grilled hot dogs! The tortilla is then folded closed in half like a quesadilla and eaten.
It’s a quick breakfast or snack, and if you put enough fillings in it can be lunch or dinner, or even a good post-bar meal on the way home – baleada stands are often found along main streets at night. It doesn’t look like much but is hot, easy to carry on-the-go and hits the spot.
On the mainland of Honduras you can find baleadas for anywhere from L.5 (about $0.25) to L.60 (about $3.00) depending on your choice of fillings. In the Bay Islands everything is a little more expensive so expect to pay about L.10-L.80 ($0.50-$4.00) per baleada… still easy on the wallet for travelers!
It is no problem to get yourself a vegetarian version (just don’t add meat) or gluten-free (ask for tortilla de maiz to get a corn tortilla instead of wheat) for travelers with special dietary needs, and because they are so simple they are good for kids as well. To get a good feel for how the locals eat, make sure you try a baleada in Honduras! On the mainland, if you ask where to get the best baleada, a local will probably tell you their mom makes the best ones.
If you find yourself in the Bay Islands, you’ll notice baleadas on breakfast menus at most restaurants and resorts (don’t let this fool you into thinking it’s a breakfast-only food!) but these are usually not as good as the freshly prepared ones on roadside stands.
On Roatan, check out Cindy’s Place, which is a little shack next to Coconut Tree divers that can pump out baleadas to divers like there’s no tomorrow, or across from Earth Mama’s on the beach a night, where a local lady sets up an amazing baleada stand every night except Sunday, and sells baleadas good enough for a whole meal – you can get roasted meat and all kinds of toppings in it. Make sure when you try a baleada that you eat it like a local – fold it in half, leave the bottom half in the foil to catch any drippings and eat with your hands! Enjoy!
— Rita Mac