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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 28, 2008

“Flautas” (flutes) are rolled tortillas (either flour or corn) with a filling (usually chicken or beef) that is deep-fried. Flautas often have cheese, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and other toppings and ingredients.
Flautas are identical to taquitos and flaquitos, although some claim that there are differences. “Flauta” is cited in English since at least 1938.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: flau·ta
Pronunciation: \ˈflau̇-tə\
Function: noun
Etymology: American Spanish, literally, flute
Date: 1976
: a usually corn tortilla rolled tightly around a filling (as of meat) and deep-fried
The Free Dictionary
flau·ta (floutä)
A corn tortilla rolled around a filling, such as beef, chicken, or cheese, into a thin cylinder and sometimes deep-fried.
[Spanish, flute, probably from Old Provençal flaüt; see flute.]
Recipe Tips
A food, commonly served in Hispanic kitchens that is similar to a burrito. A corn tortilla is used as a food wrap to hold contents such as shredded beef, poultry, pork, fish, vegetables, or other ingredients seasoned with spices, and then baked, broiled, or deep fried into a crispy texture. The term flauta, which means “flute” in Spanish, denotes the manner in which the tortilla is tightly rolled around the savory contents, making a narrow cylindrical-shaped food that can be easily fried in a skillet with oil or baked with other flautas. When served, the flautas are traditionally garnished with sour cream or cream and may also be served with guacamole, lettuce and other toppings.
Wise Geek
What are Flautas?
Flautas are a Mexican dish made by wrapping a tortilla around a savory filling and deep frying the result. The flautas are served hot out of the fryer, topped with an assortment of ingredients. Typically, multiple flautas are served on a single dish, since small tortillas are often used. In addition to being available in Mexico, flautas are also very popular in the American Southwest, and variations can be found in South America as well.
The term is derived from the Spanish word for flute, and flautas do look rather like flutes. In some cases, flautas may appear on a menu with names like flauta con pollo, indicating that the flauta is made with chicken, or flautas de Guadalajara, meaning flautas in the style of Guadalajara. These more detailed names can provide clues as to how the flauta may taste. In cases where the flauta’s contents are not detailed, asking restaurant staff about it is an excellent idea, so that you are not surprised by what you get.
The base of a flauta is a tortilla, which can be small or burrito sized, depending on the inclination of the cook. Fresh tortillas are preferable, since they are more flexible and flavorful. Some people distinguish between flautas and taquitos, a similar dish, claiming that flautas are made from flour tortillas and taquitos are made from corn tortillas. However, the terms are often used interchangeably, and some people believe that taquito is a term coined in California, rather than a true Mexican Spanish word.
The filling is often made from shredded beef or chicken, although pork flautas are not unheard of. It may also be heavily spiced with chilies and tomatoes. After being deep fried, the flauta may be dressed with shredded cabbage, queso fresco, sour cream, tomatoes, salsa, or hot sauce. The fresh greenery helps to cut the somewhat greasy filling which can accompany fried foods. Flautas can also be eaten out of hand like a snack food. They should not be served cold, as the taste will be less than desirable.
About.com: Mexican Food
Q. Is it a Flauta or a Taquito?
From Chelsie Kenyon,
A. Flautas and Taquitos are very similar and the terms are used interchangable depending on what your location is.
The Tortilla Difference
Most of the time Flautas, which mean “flutes,” usually refer to a flour tortilla that is rolled up around a filling and deep fried. A Taquito is a corn tortilla rolled in a similar fashion with a filling of beef, chicken or cheese and fried until crisp. Sometimes the Flautas are rolled to be narrower on one side then the other to create a long, narrow cone shape. But the main difference is that usually Flautas are flour torillas, and Taquitos are made of corn tortillas. However, you can also find Taquitos made from flour tortillas and Flautas made from corn. 
Wikipedia: Taquito
A taquito (from the Spanish diminutive of taco) is often considered a Mexican dish consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some sort of filling, usually beef or chicken. They are also called Rolled Tacos and are more recognized that way in Northern Mexico and Southern California.
There are many varieties of taquitos in different regions. Taquitos most often contain beef or chicken, and sometimes include cheese, pork, potato, or vegetables. They are generally thin and tend to be about six inches long.
Taquitos are very popular as a frozen food. They are also sold by 7-Eleven and QuikTrip convenience stores in a variety of flavors, as well as established restaurants such as Chico’s Tacos. Taco Bell began to sell steak and chicken taquitos in 2006.
Crispy fried taquitos sold in Mexico are often called tacos dorados (“fried tacos”) or flautas (“flutes”). Flautas are cooked using corn or flour tortillas. These may be covered by cabbage, cream, guacamole, green chile sauce and crumbled Mexican cheese such as queso fresco. Chorizo (sausage), or machacado (dried beef), etc.
30 July 1938, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, pg. 14, col. 1 ad:
(Everything Home-Made)
8 March 1948, Amarillo (TX) Globe, pg. 15, col. 3:
Two New Enchiladas…
served for the first
time in the Panhandle—
9 July 1950, New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), section C, pg. 23, col. 3 ad:
Try Our Famous
“Chicken Flautas”
2 January 1951, Olean (NY) Times-Herald, pg. 13, cols. 5-6:
One of the station’s (Phoenix, AZ—ed.) most successful promotions was a Mexican recipe contest. The first winner was so pleased at her triumph that she cooked up her recipe—a mixture of corn tortilla, roasted meat and avocado known as flautas—and took it to the station.
12 May 1956, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. 10, col. 2 ad:
Meat Flautas with Guacamole…45c
(Pancho’s Mexican Food—ed.)
7 September 1966, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 19A, cols. 2-3:
One-half pound tender beef (rib eye)
Three medium sized avocados
One-half tomato cubed
One-fourth cup onion, finely chopped or 5 green onions, chopped
One-half clove garlic, mashed
Salt to taste
One pint sour cream
One cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
One-third cup grate Parmesan cheese
Twelve tortillas
Shortening to fry tortillas
The day before you plan to make Flautas con Crema y Guacamole, cook the beef. Cover it with water and simmer until tender. Allow it to cool in cooking liquid, place in refrigerator.
Peel and mash avocados; add tomato, onion, garlic and salt. Blend until smooth. Take beef from cooking liquid and shred finely. Fry tortillas until soft enough to roll, in one-fourth inch fat. Divide shredded beef evenly among tortillas and roll.
Put on heat-proof platter or pan and lace with sour cream. Top sour cream with avocado sauce. Sprinkle generously with Monterey Jack cheese. Place in 350 degrees F. oven (or about five minutes—just long enough to melt cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese just before serving. Garnish with radish roses. Serve flautas with refried beans, rice or potato salad. Serves six.
15 September 1970, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, pg. 13, col. 1:
(Mrs. Palen Hudgin)
1 package corn tortillas
1/2 pound steak (or flank steak) cut into thin strips
Meat tenderizer
1. Use tenderizer on meat. Tightly roll one strip of beef in each tortilla. Using tongs, place in hot fat. Hold in fat a few seconds until tortilla holds the rolled shape. Fry until crisp. Serve with guacamole spread across top.
2. Make guacamole by blending or mashing 2 avocados with a small chopped tomato; season with lemon juice, onion juice and salt to taste.
Google Books
The Good Time Manual: 257 Places in the Bay Area…
by Russell S. Riera and Christopher J. Smith
Moss Publications
Pg. 104:
...two Flautas (Mario was the first to introduce this dish to the area. A flauta is a seven-inch long, crisp, fried taco that is rolled up and filled with chicken or cheese and topped with guacamole and tomato sauce)...
30 September 1972, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section A, pg. 28:
We especially enjoyed samples of Caldo de Res (Mexican style vegetable soup) and Flautas, a rolled large tortilla filled with beef or chicken and served with a side order of guacamole and sour cream.
27 January 1974, Vallejo (CA) Times-Herald, pg. W10, col. 2:
These economical stuffed tortillas combine all the goodness of lean beef stew with the distinctive flavors of sour cream and Monterey Jack cheese spiced with green onions and canned green chili salsa. The tortilla flautas make this an unusual and different dish. The Spanish word “flauta” translates into “flute.’ The flautas are easy to do and make a perfect container for the delicious beef mixture. Fry flour tortillas, one at a time, in a quarter inch of hot shortening, about a minute per side. Cool briefly before rolling into a tube. As they cool, they’ll hold their shape. Stuff with the flavorful beef filling, top with green chili salsa and bake in a moderate oven just long enough to heat through.
6 September 1974, New York (NY) Times, pg. 40:
But I think the best bet of all would be flautas (king-size tacos with meat) at $240.
24 January 1975, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section A, pg. 19:
Also delicious, but somewhat heartier, was the flautas (chicken rolled in soft tortillas and fried which are dipped in sour cream)... 
Google Books
Cooking Texas Style: Tenth Anniversary Edition
by Candy Wagner and Sandra Marquez
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
Pg. 14:
The Spanish word flauta (FLOU-ta) meaning “flute,” describes the shape of this crisp, rolled chicken taco. A great finger food, Flautas should be served warm as is or with sour cream, guacamole, or hot sauce.
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped canned green chilies
1 cup cooked chicken, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
oil for frying
12 corn tortillas (...)
Google Books
Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen
by Jane Butel
New York, NY: HP Books
Pg. 14:
Taquitos are sometimes called flautas (“flutes”) and are served with salsa, sourcream, and guacamole for dipping. If possible, get the two- to three-inch-size corn tortillas.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Monday, January 28, 2008 • Permalink

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