Tacos are love.
At least to me they are. You can keep your Valentine’s candy and roses that will just die anyway, and stuffed bears holding hearts. You can also keep your poetry, unless it’s about tacos, of course. Mexican street-style tacos are like everything nice in food cradled between two soft corn tortillas.
A while ago, Whiskey & Soba mentioned how El Morelia, a Mexican grocery store in nearby Bridgeton roasts al pastor on a spit for Saturday and Sunday taco lunches. I never forgot this.
Spring of 2011, soon before I started this blog, I traveled around central Mexico with two friends. My friend Chelsea taught English at a small village nearby. She met us in Mexico City where we took a bus to Puebla. There, we stayed with a friend and explored the city before traveling to Queretero and San Miguel De Allende. Everything we ate in Mexico tasted good and most everything was spicy. The baseline spice level for table salsas and sauces was comporable to food that I requested “extra spicy.”
“The meat here tastes meatier,” our hostess observed. She had met our friend Lonna at college in Iowa. “The chicken tastes chickenier and the beef tastes beefier.” She was right. It really did.
We explored sang karaoke with strangers, climbed an ancient pyramid, and embarked on a wild bus chase to a restaurant in the country that roasted flattened halves of chicken over a fire. We ate grasshoppers and churros and lots of tacos al pastor.
In Puebla, the taquerias we visited primarily served dishes made with slices of marinated pork. Stacks of marinated pork twirled on spits, sandwiched between pineapple and onion. It reminded me of shawarma. You could order al pastor cemitas (sandwiches) or Tacos Arabes in which the pork was folded into thicker flour tortillas with melted cheese.
The slices of al pastor I remember were succulent and flavorful through and through. I’ve eaten a lot of tacos al pastor but haven’t tasted anything quite like what we found at taquerias in Puebla. Still, it’s fun to search.
On Saturday, the el pastor spit greeted me inside the entrance at El Morelia.
There’s a menu above the cash register from which you can choose your taco fillings and beverages like aqua fresca and horchata. My order of three tacos al pastor and one tongue taco came to only $8.
Next, waltz over to the other side of the lobby and pick up your order. “For- here” tacos are served on big round plates while “to-go’s” are carefully wrapped in foil sans toppings to prevent them from becoming too soggy. Finally, garnish your tacos with a variety of toppings neatly laid-out on the table out front. There’s pico, pickles, salsas, onions, lime and cilantro.
I followed the woman in front of me’s lead by filling little plastic bags with condiments to accompany my to-go order. Instead of trying to pack salsa into a bag, I bought a larger container of spicy, green avocado salsa to enjoy at home. Those who want to dine at El Morelia can choose a seat along tables inside the store set with giant bowls of red and green salsa.
The tender lengua meat stole the show. Thinly sliced and meltingly tender, it was perfectly salted. Lengua cooked well tastes like silky, savory pot roast. Sure, you might catch sight of taste buds here and there, but it’s well worth a try. Some taquerias serve it so finely chopped, you’d never know you were eating tongue.
El Morelia is well worth a wander. It’s the largest Mexican grocery store I’ve ever visited in the U.S. Besides shelves of dry goods, there’s an expansive meat counter, deli case loaded with a few varieties of chicharrones, produce section and bakery shelves loaded with sweets.
We’re hoping to bring Jake’s dad and brothers here for weekend tacos when they visit next month. I’ll likely return sooner to grocery shop.
El Morelia Supermercado
12005 St. Charles Rock Rd.
Bridgeton, Mo 63044
Tacos served Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm