A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 28, 2007
Sope (appetizer)

"Sopes” are appetizers that are served in many Tex-Mex restaurants; it is believed that “sope” originated in Guadalajara, Mexico. Sopes have been described as little tortilla “boats” or similar to the Italian “calzone.” The tortilla is made a little thicker than normal and is filled with beans, cheese, and other ingredients.

“Sopes” have been served in Texas since at least 1960.


Wikipedia: Sope
A sope—pronounced “soh-peh”—is a traditional Mexican dish originating in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco. It is an antojito similar to a garnacha. The base is made from a thickish, small circle of fried masa of ground maize soaked in lime (also used as the basis for tamales and tortillas) with pinched sides. This is then topped with refried beans and topped with crumbled cheese, onions, red or green sauce (salsa, made with chillies or tomatillos respectively) and acidified cream. Pork and chicken can also be used in the preparation.

Glossary of Mexican Cooking
Sope: A grilled tortilla, topped with refried beans, salsa, cheese, chopped onion, and often lettuce and meat.

12 December 1937, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Food and Drink in Mexico,” section 5, pg. 4:
Following this will come sopas, small tortillas fried in lard and covered with shredded meats or ground beans, a delightful tidbit. 

Google Books
Terry’s Guide to Mexico
by Thomas Philip Terry
Hingham, MA: Rapid Service Press
1947
Pg. 128:
GARNACHAS and SOPES are little cakes made of tortilla dough fried in lard and covered with ground beans, chile…

28 January 1960, San Mateo (CA) Post, pg. 16 ad: 
SOPES
A masa pie, meat filled, sauce covered, with lettuce and cheese topping. Served with frijoles y arroz.
Sope de Chorizo... 1.25
Sope with chorizo and bean filling.
Sope de Gallina y Aguacate ... 1.45
Sope, filled with chicken and avocado.
(Horky’s Mexican Restaurants—ed.)

22 May 1960, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 19, col. 3 ad:
TAQUERIA ROSITA
Authentic Mexican Food
MOLE
TAMALES
TAQUITOS
POZOLE
ENCHILADAS
CHICKEN
CHALUPAS
TOSTADAS
SOPES
MENUDO

3 October 1961, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 17, cols. 1-2:
One of Carmen’s specialties, which she learned to make under the benevolent eye of her mother, is sopes. Carmen says:

“I make a corn tortilla from tamale dough, which has shortening in it.

“I cook it in the oven and, leaving it flat, put ground meat, tomato sauce and cheese on it. And, when it’s done, I garnish it with lettuce.”
(Huebner Road cafe Carmen T. Bustamente operates in the 1100 block of Huebner rd.—ed.)

Google Books
The Food and Drink of Mexico
by George C. Booth
Los Angeles, CA: Ward Ritchie Press
1964
Pg. 151:
Sopes are simply made. Either pat out a three inch tortilla or trim down a ready-made tortilla with a pair of scissors. Fry quickly in fat, so the sope is light gold in color but not hard, and cover with chopped, crisp cabbage. Over this spoon a thin layer of crumbled hamburger and chili powder that has been slowly fried in a covered pan, surmount with finely chopped onion and cover with shredded cheese.

20 October 1970, Valley News (Van Nuys, CA), “Gas Company Offers Free Book of Mexican Recipes,” pg. 4A, col. 3:
It outlines and illustrates preparation of basic Mexican foods, including tortillas, toastadas, tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and quesadillas. The book discusses preparation and serving of complete menus, including breads, vegetables, cereals, salsas, salads, sopes, soups, meats and poultry, desserts, beverages and breakfast dishes.
("Fiesta Foods” by the Southern California Gas Co.—ed.)

8 November 1970, Syracuse (NY) Herald Journal, “Guadalajara’s magic” by Horace Sutton, travel section, pg. 11, col. 5:
The specialties are the sopes which are really stuffed tortillas or the pozole Tapatio style, a boiled beef dish served in spicy broth.

28 July 1971, Frederick (MD) News, pg. C1, col. 3:
Sopes are pieces of tortilla with ground beef and carrots mixed. 

30 October 1973, Raleigh Register, (Beckley, WV), pg. 4, col. 7:
The menu included: (...) sopes de pollo (small soft fried Mexican corn pancakes with chicken, beans, cheese and lettuce on top)....

12 February 1974, Brownsville (TX) Herald, The Tower Arch (Villa Maria High School), “Spanish III Cook-Off,” pg. 3, col. 2:
Carlos Villarreal and Charles Klein made “nachos” and “tostadas” and Tony Escobedo brought “sopes.”

19/20 March 1975, Chicago (IL) News/Journal, pg. 19, col. 3 ad:
MEXICAN APPETIZERS
Sopes (A Mexican folklore)
Bontana Compesta (Assorted appetizers)
Guacamole Avocado dip
(El Camino restaurant—ed.)

7 December 1977, Brandon (Manitoba, Canada) Sun, pg.  21, col. 4:
SOPES
1 lb. fresh corn masa (dough)
2 cups cooking oil
Fried beans
Cooked and shredded beef
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Shredded cheese
Fresh salsa or guacamole

Make a three-inch patty with masa (about 1/4 inch thick). Cook on griddle until lightly brown specked. While hot, pinch edge to make a rim. Pinch a little mound i nthe centre. Fry in hot oil; drain. Fill centre with beans. Top with meat, cheese, lettuce and salsa. Makes excellent appetizer.

24 September 1997, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, “You can fill versatile sope with just about anything,” section 3, pg. 3, cols. 1-2:
The tradition of cooking sopes—the Southwestern version of the Italian calzone—is deeply rooted in the heritage of “south of the border” cuisine. These tortilla-dough appetizers can take dozens and dozens of different forms, depending on the myriad of fillings, garnishes and leftovers from previous meals on any given cooking day. They can also be served as a main course.

Sopes can be found in the Latin or deli section of most major grocery stores. They can also be prepared from scratch, using your favorite recipe for tortilla dough.

When making sope “shells,” the dough is rolled and flattened so that it is slightly thicker than the traditional tortilla. This added thickness allows for the creation of a “retaining wall” around the outer rim of the tortilla that will help the cook stuff the sope with any variety of fillings. These fillings almost always include one or more varieties of cheese to add flavor and texture.

They take only five to eight minutes, so they’re a quick snack.

15 July 2001, New York (NY) Times, “Difference in Style for Two Hamptonites” by Richard Jay Scholem, pg. LI11:
At La Fondita they make all their own sauces, serve warm salted chips and churn out authentic Mexican dishes unavailable at local chain outlets or Americanized suburban spots. Get sopes ($4.50), small handpressed corn tortilla boats,...

Google Groups: rec.food.recipes
Newsgroups: rec.food.recipes
Followup-To: rec.food.cooking, rec.food.recipes
From: (Glenn Spencer)
Date: 16 Nov 2001 19:14:19 GMT
Local: Fri, Nov 16 2001 2:14 pm
Subject: Sopes - Mexican Appetizer

Sopes

These little corn cakes are made with masa harina, a Mexican corn masa mix that is available at most specialty food stores. Serve them at your next party; guests can assemble their own creations while you enjoy the party!

Serves 35 appetizer servings

4 cups masa harina flour (Mexican corn masa mix)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 cup Diced Green Chiles
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided

Toppings
Warmed Refried Beans, Shredded Mild Cheddar or Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, Thick & Chunky Salsa, Sour Cream, Pickled Jalapeqo Slices

Place flour in large bowl; cut in vegetable shortening with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add water, kneading until smooth. Add chiles; mix well. Form dough into 35 small balls. Pat each ball into 3-inch patty; place on waxed paper.  Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Cook patties for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown, adding additional oil as needed to prevent sticking.  Top with beans, cheese, salsa, dollop of sour cream and jalapeqos.

Live Search Books
A Culinary Dictionary: The Chef’s Companion
by Elizabeth Riley
Third Edition
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
2003
Pg. 295:
sope [SO-pay] In Mexican cooking, a small round of tortilla dough cooked and filled with a savory stuffing; sopes can be eaten as a first course or appetizer. Also called garnacha or picada.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, November 28, 2007 • Permalink