The minute you walk into Tienda El Ranchito, you'll know it was worth the trip across the Poplar Street Bridge. The smell of tamales wafts through the air, the walls are painted a festive orange and the volume on the Mexican vaquero
movie is turned way up. The lighting is dark, the aisles are narrow and the employees are friendly -- even to those who forgot everything they learned in high-school Spanish besides "gracias"
and "¿Donde está el bao?"
Two aisles are dedicated to dried chiles and Mexican spices. An antique cooler is filled with all sizes of flour and corn tortillas and another is packed with Mexican cheeses. In the meat department, you'll find cubed steak and links of chorizo. On the produce aisle you'll discover papayas bigger than Fred Flintstone's head and an assortment of limes, mangoes, avocados and tomatillos. The best part is a little taqueria
in the back of the market, which serves spicy chiles rellenos
, plated with a mound of corn tortillas alongside.