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Bellingham's secret Mexican restaurant

La Gloria Market (& Taqueria) is hidden gem. It's a small (about 10 small tables) restaurant attached to a Mexican grocery store. The food is, I think, the best Mexican in Bellingham. The name means The Glory and it is. We call it Gloria's.

The menu is a marker board over the kitchen -- see attached photos below. We eat there about once a week and love the enchilada combo -- $5.99 for two enchiladas, rice and beans, your choice of meat. I usually get azada (steak) and my wife gets pollo (chicken), but there are many choices like chorizo, tongue, carnitas, etc.

The combos are all $5.99 -- see the left side of the second photo below. These are the best $5.99 meals you find.

Tacos are $1.50 each and are softshell (no Americanized crispy shells here), with any of the meats.

On the right side of the menu board are the platillos at $9.99. These are dinners served with rice, beans and 3 or 4 very tasty, warm tortillas for sopping up the wonderful sauces. I've tried the chili verde, chicken mole (both of which had fantastic sauces), carne asada, and bistec ranchero -- loved it all. I'm looking forward to trying the goat.

Menudo or Pozole are available for $8.99.

It's at 4140 Meridian on the east side, behind the carwash just north of Bakerview. It's hard to see from Meridian -- just turn in at the carwash and when you're behind the carwash you'll see it in the strip of storefronts near the north end.

Please don't tell anyone else about this place. Seriously, I've seen places like this get swamped and not be able to keep the quality. We've been enjoying this place for just over a year and have discussed whether or not to post it. It's not for everyone. If you've got to have a marguerita and crispy shell tacos, this isn't your kinda place (they do have bottled beer). I hate to use the word "authentic" but this is like a little family place you might find wandering around off the tourist trail in Mexico.

 
 
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  1. Looks like a place I need to keep in mind when traveling to and from Canada - just off the road to the Linden border crossing.

    1. Thank you for the prompt. I shop every so often in the adjoining grocery store (frozen pupusas! really good marinated pork adobada in the butcher case!) but haven't yet stopped for food there. I have to admit, I've gotten the gringa treatment there at times, so I haven't felt like lingering. It sounds like I should get over it.

      Do you know if they'll pack stuff up to go?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Vetter

        The staff has always been friendly. Most customers appear to be hispanic, but we've never felt uncomfortable. They do a lot of takeout.

        Watch for daily specials on a marker board low on the counter below the register.

      2. Will check this out soon. Thanks

        1. Puzzler, you're so right! I tell my husband every time we eat there that I feel like I'm back in East Los Angeles, where I once worked. We went to little places like this all the time, and it's as excellent as you say. There's no better, more authentic Mex in Bellingham. In fact, no other seems authentic at all by comparison. Even Taco Lobo isn't as good as it used to be--the last two meals I had there have convinced me that La Gloria is the only place to go. If you ever see the green enchilada special? Order it! BEST. ENCHILADA. EVER. ANYWHERE. Unlike no other I've ever had and in a league all by itself. Last week I had a chicken burrito--heavenly. What I do wish for is some fierier salsas, but I'm not complaining.

          1. Thanks for the rec. We stopped in there on our way to and from the States (from BC). It's tricky to find, but quite the little gem. No decent Mexican up by us.

            I had lengua (tongue) tacos and pork tamales, the husband had fajitas. And I got to pick up some great ingredients before we went back home!

             
             
             
             
             
             
            1. I've been eating here for years now and it's real authentic Mexican food for cheap! All the usual stuff done right! tacos, burritos ect.
              I love all the tacos (not a big fan of seso's though). Very busy taco wagon with mostly mexican people eating there.
              Tacos are 1.25 each
              ENJOY!

              1. On a related topic, there are a few taco trucks here and there in town (B'ham). Has anyone had luck - good or bad - with any? Back in LA, taco trucks were the way to go for the tastiest and cheapest mexican fare.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sasha1

                  Sasha, friends swear by the one whose owners, so convinced that their truck success would translate into brick and mortar, took over the Mex joint (or did it used to be Asian?) that's on Meridien just up the hill (north, that is, and at a slightly higher elevation) of Petsmart/Michael's. Don't remember the name and haven't been in myself, but I fear for them as the parking lot's generally emptyish.

                  Another friend loved the Salvadoran food taco truck that moves around a bit. Saw another new one yesterday by the Toyota dealership on Iowa (or is it Ohio St) called Ah! Chihuahua! If I weren't on a diet, I'd be making the rounds. Have you tried any?

                  And to YMunoz--definitely try La Gloria, it's humble (part of it's charm, I think) and it's good. The cook has an excellent palate and puts flavor and balance into every dish--I've not been disappointed.

                  1. re: sasha1

                    There is a great taco truck on the Guide Meridian at the corner of Guide and Smith road. It's very popular with Hispanics as well as local gringos like me. Almost always a lineup, but service is fast! and the prices are fantastic!
                    Tacos Tequilatan rocks!

                  2. Thanks for posting this! Just moved to Canada from Los Angeles and the lack of Mexican food and products is driving me nuts! Will definitely check it out this weekend.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: yvmunoz86

                      I'm local (Vancouver) and totally agree, our landscape is devoid of many excellent Mexican/Latino restos.

                      But if you haven't tried, maybe Cobre in Gastown might appease:

                      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/662707...

                      And Baru Latino on the west side:

                      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180132...

                      For cheaper more casual fare, there's Dona Cata on Victoria Drive (@35th Ave) and La Taqueria on Pender Street (downtown):

                      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180520...

                      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/147116...

                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        I appreciate the recommendations, I live in Surrey and am still trying to get to know the area. I am Mexican/American but very tuned into my Mexican roots, so the adjusting is taking time. Thanks again!

                        1. re: yvmunoz86

                          What part of Surrey? I live "next door" on the Washington side of the border. White Rock's closer than B-ham for dining out. I feel your pain re the separation from good Mexican food. After eight years ex-Los Angeles I'm getting used to it, but only just. I'm particularly jonesing for tamales.

                          1. re: Neecies

                            Have you tried the La Gloria tamales? They are pretty darn tasty -- but I grew up in this part of the world, so I don't have a lot to compare them too!

                            1. re: Vetter

                              I haven't! I don't even remember seeing tamales on the menu, but I don't get to eat Mex very often (carb overload!) and the rare occasions we give in to it I am guilty of being blindsided by other things. Also, much as I love tamales, even in otherwise good Mexican restaurants there are a lot of badly made tamales in this world (dry, untender, bad meat-to-masa ratio even for someone like me who appreciates the masa), so it's usually the last thing I try. I think in many cases the tamal would have been outstanding when freshly made, but they dry out and toughen up when not reheated properly. And since that takes time, "properly" is often the last thing on anyone's mind.

                              Btw, have we trashed Chihuahua's in Ferndale yet? It's the most popular Mexican restaurant in this town and one of the worst Mexican restaurants I've ever been to--anywhere. How about a mole made with Nestle's Quik? I kid you not....

                              1. re: Neecies

                                You mean Paso del Norte in Blaine ain't the worst ?? I'll give it to 'em that their portions are large, almost too large. But not a heck of a lot of quantity IMHO.

                              2. re: Neecies

                                I live in the Newton area, my hubby and I travel into B-ham often though. We fly out from their airport and do some shopping there as well. I'm hoping to get out there this weekend, haven't had a chance. Have done some dining in White Rock, nowhere swanky (not that fine dining is particularly my taste), but good thus far. I really like Surrey, although I miss the food and SUN in L.A., it's definitely a trade up as far as living conditions and friendly folks go, I can imagine WA is the same.
                                I am a tamale fiend! I do best staying away from them completely.

                                1. re: yvmunoz86

                                  yvmunoz86 - I heard this taco cart is more than decent. I don't know the name of it, but it was mentioned in a different thread (either this board or the Vancouver/BC board) and they're on Guide Meridian, between Pro Golf Discount and Super Gas:

                                  (see trailer & white tent behind the white sedan)

                                  http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&so...

                                  1. re: yvmunoz86

                                    Yes re that trade-up.

                                    True story: I lost my cell phone in a supermarket parking lot soon after moving here. Another shopper found it and drove it to the Ferndale police station. The policeman thought hey, maybe this person has a family member with an adjoining number so he started calling the nearest numbers. He reached my husband and volunteered to drop it off at my husband's office near Bellingham airport. Bob was already in possession of it by the time I got home and realized my phone was missing. Try that trick in L.A.!

                                    And here, at supermarkets people actually push their emptied shopping carts back to the corrals.

                                    There's just a general air of consideration and respect we Angelenos are not used to (born and grew up in Whittier).

                                    Newton's the north Delta area? I think I've been thru a neighborhood by that name in that vicinity, but I'm not sure. We're in Birch Bay.

                          2. Thanks for the post, puzzler. We just tried La Gloria based upon your comments, and we were not disappointed! We ordered tacos adobada and carne asada (take home), and shared the dishes. I did some shopping in the adjoining market while waiting. Everyone was very nice, and helpful for finding items. Lots of items I've been having difficulty locating in B'ham. The taqueria food was lovely and, quite inexpensive. Best mexican experience I've had since living in Southern California near the border.

                            1. Thank you so much for this recommendation. We had the tacos and the tamales. They rocked the socks off anything we get in Vancouver. Was a little disappointed as they were out of carnitas but the pork tamales were amazing as was the chorizo tacos. We did a little grocery shopping at the attached store and found some interesting finds like fruit powder. This is my new condiment of choice. I put that *&*( on everthing!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: oiboy

                                Ah, diet schmiet. I am now going to have to go back sooner than later and try those tamales!

                              2. Very good. If anyone reviews the menu on a different site do be aware that all the prices have gone up. Combo plates are now $6.99. Food is very good and authentic. You can buy just about anything you'd need to make your own Mexican food at the connected grocery store. They have marinated meat for sale to make your own adovada or carne asada tacos/burritos. (Pretty cheap too) They also sell "cooked" carnitas so you can take home and make your own carnitas dishes. I think it was $7.99 a pound. They also sell fresh made flour tortillas. $1.99 for 12. Wife loved them. Said she will never buy store bought again.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: ericsachs

                                  Are the fresh tortillas in the store or in the restaurant? Every time I've asked for them they only have the regular packaged brands in the store.

                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                    They are in the store. I've tried to change a couple of things in my post and don't know if it worked or not. It's $1.99 for 9. At least that's what we got. They were in a store bought zip lock baggie. Definitely fresh. All sticking together now due to putting in fridge. My wife said she thought the cooked carnitas was $6.99 a pound, not $7.99.

                                    1. re: ericsachs

                                      Thanks ericsachs! I'll check again next time I'm in there. We love La Gloria.

                                      1. re: ericsachs

                                        Holy cow! $2 for 9????? Here in Reno I can get two dozen for that price. Whew. But so worth it, aren't they?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Don't complain. This is our best local source, and a pack of 10 white tortillas is about $3-4.

                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                            We have a pretty big Latino population and I'm guessing the further north the fewer.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              For sure. But we are getting better with a larger Spanish/Latino population, and slowly a larger selection of restaurants:

                                              http://www.urbanspoon.com/f/14/1339/V...

                                              http://www.urbanspoon.com/f/14/1353/V...

                                              http://www.urbanspoon.com/f/14/1342/V...

                                              Of course Taco Bell, Chronic Tacos, Taco del Mar, Taco Time and the likes don't count, so that wipes out about half of the lists above.