In the summertime it’s almost impossible not to stop at La Alborada Market for a taco. On hot day, there will always be a festive tent and a giant sandwich board of antojitos in the parking lot, flagging our appetites off East Lake Street and into the benches of its picnic tables. But in these last, weary stages of winter, when the roads are lined with black berms of old snow, and we’re just trying to get home and in out of the cold, it’s easy to cruise by the place and forget all about the goodies inside.
So in case you too have forgotten it, here’s a reminder and a recommendation.
If you go by at lunchtime, you’ll find the staff recovering from the morning rush, restocking various displays with glass bottles of Coke, cactus paddles, and beef tongues. In the tiny Antojitos Mexicanos, the market’s cafe, the few tables and bar stools will be crammed with people tucking into plates of food and watching telenovelas. However, most everyone is on a lunch break and the tables clear out quickly. (Good news: La Alborada appears to be building out a second dining room behind the kitchen.)
The folks behind the counter are warm and helpful, and though they don’t speak much English, if you are patient, they’ll get you what you need — which, as we recently discovered, is a pork oaxaqueños tamale ($3).
A staple of Mexico’s tropical regions, the oaxaqueños tamale is steamed in a deep green banana leaf and is much larger than its corn husked cousins. It arrived at the table piping hot and giving off a delightfully vegetal mist. We carefully unwrapped the leaves, expecting to find a firm lump of yellow masa inside. Instead, there was this unbelievably creamy white polenta, lush as a pudding, savory and fragrant and filled with a mildly spicy, super tender pulled pork.
The oaxaqueños tamale might be the ultimate comfort food, and it is most certainly a welcome antidote to March’s wind chill and ennui.
1855 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
OWNER: Orlando Cruz
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Some / No
ENTREE RANGE: Antojitos $1.50-$6