Eating at Del Norte: At last, elbow room when I’m roaming Fiesta food booths. That’s what I found at grassy MacKenzie Park.
Look, El Mercado de la Guerra Plaza is fun, but unless you sit down on a curb or City Hall steps, there is virtually no place to have a seat while you’re balancing a plate of Mexican food and a horchata rice and cinnamon drink.
Ah, but at MacKenzie there are tents shading large round tables. True, the seats are in major demand, but they’re there if you’re willing to play musical chairs.
And there’s lots of room to stroll, except at peak times. El Mercado del Norte is known as a family-friendly place. There’s a huge circus at the far end, with rides and those inflated fun houses, and music on the stage.
And over the years, food you never find at De la Guerra. Sadly, German sausages, Thai and other exotic non-Mexican cuisine have been missing this last couple of Fiestas.
But I found plenty to fill my stomach. And there seemed to be more booths this year. And beer, which you’ll never find hawked at the Plaza. The Thirsty Iguana is a fenced-in place where you can wet your whistle with Tecate or Bud Lite for $4 a cup. And, I was told by the woman at the gate, wine margaritas.
Sue and I weren’t drinking, but we did get lucky with the best tamales I’ve tasted all week. At the Homemade Fiesta Enchilada booth, sponsored by the Apostolic Faith Tabernacle, I was blown away by the beef tamales, which would have been tasty even if I hadn’t sprinkled hot sauce on. A deal for $4.50 each. For some reason it’s hard – although not impossible – to find outrageously delicious tamales the rest of the year.
Barney's Fiesta Friday
At the same booth, Delilah Lopez and Ignacio Jimenez sold my friend Michael Edwards a plate piled with a chicken enchilada, beans, rice, a tamale, lettuce and a horchata drink for $14.
I was envious, but new culinary adventures beckoned. Over on one side, I found Sanjua Gil and her baseball-playing son Jose (“Pepe”) at the family El Sitio restaurant booth.
“You must try a sope,” insisted Sanjua, a warm, gracious woman. I was already digging into one of their tacos de abobado, jammed with shredded pork, but I gulped one down, handed the other two to Sue and tried a sope.
By Sue De Lapa