MSP - Tacolmeca and Supermercado Olmeca: Burnsville, MN
I'm not green. I have a penchant for driving around for absolutely no reason whatsoever aside from maybe time to unwind and listen to a Twins game on the radio.
The other day I was aimlessly criss-crossing the forgotten side of my hometown and came across the remnants of a strip mall that probably should have been leveled two decades ago, save for the fact that nobody outside of the nearby residents even realizes it's there. Truth be told, I think the structure is ugly enough that people driving by mostly look the other way out of years of habit.
That's what I've always done until the flicker of a red, LED sign flashing "Abierto" caught my eye. Whoa! I never studied Spanish, but I know from years of Chowhounding that "abierto" roughly translates to "stop and turn around idiot...there's great Mexican food in here".
With a shiny newish outpost of Taqueria La Hacienda about 1/2 mile down in a much more auspicious location, I was surprised to see a living, breathing supermercado, bakery and restaurant tucked into the near-death strip mall off a Burnsville side street. I stepped inside and was thrilled.
Now, I'm not going to start comparing this to the Mercado Central or the streets of Mexico City. But there are two reasons to absolutely add this to the list of "must eats" in the south metro (next to Ronin, Satay 2 Go and pizza at Brianno's). First is that it's the only place for 15 miles around with fresh carnitas and outstanding chicharron.
Better yet, they make a killer torta. The adjoining bakery puts out a nice, fresh torta roll, which, like with banh mi and burgers, is an absolute key to the product. The roll was toasted on the griddle, smeared with refried beans and sour cream and topped with three slices of white cheese. I watched the counter man scoop out half of a fresh avocado onto the sandwich. Jalapenos, onions, lettuce, tomatoes. I ordered the "fried pork" which I would normally associate with carnitas, but this was more of an adobo, chili-marinated pork, fried on the griddle. The roll was vaguely reminiscent of the delicious cubana sandwiches you'd find in south Florida.
The staff are extremely welcoming and quick with a sample. If you live in, work in or pass through Burnsville, this is a gem that demands a visit.
Supermercado Olmeca and Tacolmeca
1919 W Burnsville Parkway (at County Road 5)
The torta I had (Cuban: breaded steak, ham, and Mexican sausage topped with their standard beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and fresh scooped guac) was fantastic. The bread was soft on the outside but grilled and buttery on the inside. While I could have used a bit more peppers, this sandwich was tasty and one that I hope to eat again very soon.
Check out the pictures of Tacolmeca here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bill_roe...
Oooh - killer tortas? I've put this place on my list for if I ever get out to Burnsville.
Although my torta quest has become quiescent while I try to eat healthy(-ier), I should make an excuse to schlep out that way soon. (There must be a good garden center or landscaping supply place out there.) Thanks for the info!
Posting to add: I was able to sample the pork tamales over on the market side this weekend. The flavor was great--equal to La Loma or any of the other gold standards in the city. The masa was a bit mushy unfortunately so all-in-all it was a silver medal effort.
I also picked up some cecina from the butcher case and corn tortillas (the sell La Perla, from Lake St.). All in all, a very satisfying lunch for a family of five -- all for $20.