This thing you should try: the Impaloca at the Pug

November 12, 2013
Impaloca
Impaloca at the Pug: A bag of Cheetos topped with pork, queso fresco, pico de gallo and baked beans. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

My new favorite sinfully delicious late-night bar snack: the Impaloca, served at the Pug every Tuesday night alongside Impala Cantina's usual lengua, chorizo and barbacoa tacos.

Individual-sized bags of Fritos, Cheetos or Cool Ranch Doritos are sliced open along the long side. A chef fills the bag with Impala Cantina's usual taco toppings – pork, queso fresco, baked beans and tangy pico de gallo. Then you're handed a plastic fork to eat the whole thing, chips and all.

In some parts, pouring taco toppings straight into a bag of chips is a "delicacy" known as Walking Tacos or Frito Pie. But this is different: The Impaloca is not just dumping hot, gooey nacho cheese into a bag of Hot Cheetos and wolfing down a week's worth of saturated fat. (Seriously, that combo, called one of "South Texas’s most popular snacks," just featured in yesterday's front-page story about growing rates of obesity in Texas.)

I wouldn't argue that consuming a pile of Cheetos topped with meat and cheese is good for you, and my physician would probably warn me about the danger Impaloca consumption poses to my blood pressure. But the bold flavors are perfect after a beer or two, and filling enough to eat before heading out into the cold at the end of the night. Your choice of snack chips and toppings costs $5.

Torta
The roasted turkey torta from Tortas Bandito at Dodge City -- just in time for Thanksgiving. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

In other pop-up-dining-at-bars news, Dodge City has welcomed Tortas Bandito back to its heated patio for the next four weeks. Monday through Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m., you can choose from a trio of tortas from the grill for $8 each, including spicy beer-braised beef short ribs with jalapeno and caramelized onions, or roast chicken breast with crispy turkey skin chicharron, green salsa and avocado. Chef Paul Challan is also making sopas, and last night's pozole, with a tangy tomatillo base, pork and hominy, was a winner. (Small cups of soup are $3, which may change.)

One thing to remember: At both of these pop-ups, you pay for the food directly, not as part of your bar tab, so remember to bring cash.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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Camille Kilgore · November 12, 2013