Comfortably nestled in a strip mall anchored by a hardware store and Doctor John's naughty emporium is one of Bridgeton's best-hidden gems: Carniceria El Morelia. Upon entering you're liable to find owner Judi Florez on the phone or at her laptop behind the counter, but she'll be happy to pull herself away, whether it's to help you dig out reggaeton superstar Don Omar's new CD or point you toward the selection of cactus leaves, piñatas or veladoras,
those cool prayer candles that come in glass jars.
Florez stocks her densely packed shelves with products both familiar and new to gringo eyes. Sure, there are more chiles, beans and tortillas than we've got space to list, but how about Shampoo de Jitomate?
That's tomato shampoo! A three-foot crucifix overlooks the paper towels; mounted buffalo and bull heads bookend the links of chorizo that hang behind the meat cases. Any way you look at it, it's a trip: El Morelia makes weeding through the strip of retail giants on St. Charles Rock Road well worth the effort.