by Max Brantley
We took a Sunday drive to Super Mercado Fresco, the made-over Affiliated Foods-related grocery at Geyer Springs and Baseline, which had a grand opening Saturday.
Looks like a winner. The story has bilingual signage and produce, meats and staples geared to the neighborhood's growing Hispanic population. Anybody who's been to a Fiesta market in Texas will know the concept. There are pinatas strung from the ceiling; a group of independent vendors create a bazaar-type atmosphere with jewelry, clothing and cookware sales.
Our quick tour notes: Vast selections of multiple types of peppers, plus several types of mangoes and plaintains. We bought a sack of fresh tomatillos to make a special sauce we first encountered at Ninfa's in Houston. Lots of cactus, of course.
In the meat section, you'll find skirt steak, chicken feet, octopus and lots of other specialty cuts. There's a big assortment of Mexican cheese and sausage. Free samples were offered of a spicy chipotle flavored link sausage.
The deli offered homemade tamales (two for $3) packed with piquant pork, along with burritos, tacos and other snacks. Tres leches cakes filled a refrigerator case if you're looking for a special occasion sweet, not to mention the usual colorful selection of pan dulce.
There's also a huge selection of Mexican sodas and fruit drinks, including Topo Chico, my favorite. There's also bottle horchata.
You'd think this concept has staying power. A question arises, however, about the impact of a big market on the many tiny neighborhood markets that have sprung up along Geyer Springs and Baseline.
PS -- How's this for kismet? My son and I went to lunch at Taqueria Karina after our supermarket reconnaisance and ran into Belly Boy and Mrs. Belly Boy. Neither of us was blogging, just eating. My excellent Spanish brought me an order of carne asada when I thought I'd ordered menudo. No matter. It was excellent.