For Tacos in a Mexican Grocery in an Ethiopian 'Hood, Super Plaza's Are Pretty Damn Good

Entering a supermarket--or a mall, for that matter--is a stressful venture packed with potential pitfalls, so it's always comforting to see food options as an escape or security blanket. Super Plaza, a market in Upper Greenville's Little Ethiopia, is no exception.

The market has a funky smell, but it offers everything from Latin American culinary staples to fresh baked pastries and avocados the size of newborns, not to mention discolored meat. And that aroma is quickly eradicated with one bite of the bistek con papas taco, a vermillion concoction that harbors strings of dark green chilies so asphyxatingly hot that closer inspection was necessary to determine whether Szuechan peppercorns were stuffed inside the cubed potatoes.

The luscious threaded, chipped-bark-sized pieces of beef were pretty indeed. Alas, they belied a Mercury-hot, vision-questioning quality. The deshebrada en salsa verde was also spicy, though to a lesser degree. I was able to enjoy more of it before moving on to the adequate pastor.

What buoyed the pork was its roasted flavor and crusty exterior. Otherwise, it was a knotted pile-up of confusion. How porcine deliciousness could be as contradictory as this was flabbergasting. The workers sitting at nearby tables ordered platters of it with greasy rice and milky refried beans.

The fajita, meanwhile, was back-breaking straw of a taco. An edible fajita beef taco is now more difficult to find than one made of chicken, a thought that several months ago would have seemed preposterous.

The tortillas, yellow corn, were cracker brittle. They were also sturdy, bowing but not breaking under the weight of the hefty fillings. Head-scratching as the tortillas were, they offered a relieving juxtaposition to the conflagration of meat.

The ambience was delightful, a place to munch prior to or following a sweat-inducing shopping spree, one accentuated by employees dog-earing Spanish-language celebrity rags during their lunch breaks then replacing them in the stacks. It's amusing for those interested in exotic eating; for those more accustomed to such environments, it's shoulder-shrugging taco-fantasticness.

Super Caliente always offers something different, according to the whims of the hairnet-donning, smack-talking cook, who kept winking at me while she told an off-color joke to another patron.

Also: The tacos are less than a dollar.

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José Ralat Maldonado

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