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San Pablo: Food Barn - grocery, panaderia, carneceria ... 80 tortas 80 … with a sami-sosa torta

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San Pablo: Food Barn - grocery, panaderia, carneceria ... 80 tortas 80 … with a sami-sosa torta

rworange | Jun 21, 2007 05:12 PM

The sami-sosa has milenesa pierna & salchinica … fried breaded ham and hot dog … funny ... always thought Sosa was a bit of a ham and I always get a hot dog at ballgames ... an inspired theme torta, IMO.

I smiled and chuckled to myself at some of the 80 types of tortas. They are written on white paper plates neatly taped to the wall. A few others that caught my attention:

- Tacubaya: pork chop … a pork chop torta, ya hear … how good is that?
- Zona Rosa: Chuleta ahumanda, salchinica, y quesillo
- Ronaldo: milanesa y pina
- Lambada: sorry, forgot ... just thought this was a funny name. Does the taste dance?
- Tres Quesos: queso blanco, chihuaha y Amarillo
- Tuna Azada

The man making the sandwiches was wonderful. Didn’t speak a word of English but shared my amusement. I told him I just ate lunch but would return. He pulled out some of the food to show me what he had.

I have never in my life seen a larger torta roll … it was almost round and the size of those white paper plates. There is one of the largest sandwich presses I have ever seen in my life … you could press a pair of pants in it.

In addition to this dizzying array of sandwiches there are licuados, juices and aqua frescas. It wasn’t available today, but there was a pepino aqua fresca on the list. My new friend pulled out fresh celery, beets and carrots to show me the ingredients for a drink called a vampira … and then pantomimed a vampire sucking his neck.

There were signs for ricos bionicos and ricos Eskimos… the latter I’m guessing is a frozen Eskimo pie. There are tamales. I suspect that there is soup because that’s what the torta guy was having for lunch … I was just too dazzled by the sandwich selection to note what else might be available. There are a few salmon tortas including grilled.

Next to the torta counter is the fish counter with a decent enough selection of fish. You could also buy fresh octopus … baby and regular. There is a large meat counter with two on-site butchers. There were house-made plastic containers of mole poblano. Carne seca (beef jerky) was available for $15.99 lb.

Nice cheese case too. All the standards including queso seco verdevalle. I haven’t seen that before. They had all the Central American cremas and a queso duro.

Next to the in-house panaderia there is rotisserie chicken case. They make their own tortillas that were still hot in the bag – 60 for $1.89. You could also buy fresh masa from the panaderia.

The pan dulce looked pretty standard except for one thing … the one thing I bought … sesame bread.

This was a white cake / bread that was similar in texture to squares of corn bread. It was crumbly and moist with a touch of sweetness and salt. The toasted sesames scattered on top gave it a nice flavor … 45 cents for a large square.

There was a nice little produce section up front. They had milpero tomatillos … little tiny marble-sized tomatillos. There was a $1 discount corner which really was a discount with large packages of peppers, zucchini, and other produce that really didn’t look past their prime to me.

One long aisle was packaged dry peppers and spices. Didn’t see much different except for the dried chile puya. There was a big barrel of dried hibiscus. The grocery section was mainly Mexican brands … Baja Pacifica sea salt, Sarita vegetable oil (Mexican Crisco, so to speak.) There was a huge selection of powdered Mexican gelatins … two brands … D’Gari and El Mexicano. Such flavors as walnut, sherry, rompope, chocolate and pistachio gelatin were available in addition to the more mundane, orange, strawberry and lemon.

The refrigerated case with eggs and cold cuts didn’t look exciting. Neither did the beer / liquor selection. They were big on Don Julio tequila and even had fancy single-shot bottles for $6.99.

Up front is a jewelry counter and clothing section. Money orders can be sent. Utility bills can be paid.

This place looked like such a dump outside that even with my liberal policy to dives, I’ve avoided Food Barn. It is next to an auto parts lot and recycling center where shopping carts of glass and bottles are wheeled for a few extra dollars. This is a tough section of San Pablo that makes the International Plaza look upscale.

An El Grullenses Taco Truck is permanently stationed in the lot and it took a bit for me to work up the courage to give this a try (only ok). A block away a second El Grullenses truck that works the auto parts lot.

Who would have guessed Food Barn had anything good? I might just stop at the 1/4 Giant Burger joint across the street and finally check them out. Who knows what other gems I’ve been passing by for the past couple of years.

Has anyone tried the tortas at Food Barn? What did you like?

I’ll try to get over there this weekend and actually try one. They have one called the DF … can’t say that’s not a real District Federal torta, eh? Even in Mexico I never saw such a large torta menu.

Food Barn (aka Food Mart)
1835 Rumrill Boulevard
San Pablo 94806
8:00 am - 8:00 pm 7 days

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