I’d been hearing for a couple of years about this place in Monett, MO that had what my co-worker called, “The most authentic, delicious, amazing Mexican food you’ve ever eaten outside of Mexico.” So when I finally had the opportunity to pass through the small town, I had to check it out. He had cautioned that it was literally in a grocery store, and–after all that build up–warned me to keep my expectations around the ambiance low.
The path through Monett is pretty straight-forward (and not too far from Bentonville, AR, home to a number of noted food manufacturing and retail companies), and I only had to veer off the beaten path a little to find the Super Mercadito Plaza Mexico Taqueria Tortilleria. As much as a mouthful as that name appears, it lived up to its potential. It is definitely a Mexican food store, selling everything from pinatas to handmade tortillas. Tucked back into the far corner is a small restaurant, with a handful of tables and a menu that has obviously been translated into English instead of the other way around.
The options are limited, but that’s OK–once I saw Carne Asada tacos on the list, I was done. That’s an item that more and more restaurants are adding, without a great deal of success, I’m afraid. Once we Americanize this dish, we tend to try to make it fancier–adding guacamole (not that there’s anything wrong with that), using the wrong onions, leaving out the heavy cilantro, or eliminating the lime altogether. At this little Tortilleria, the combination was perfect. They offered a handmade and fresh tortilla, piled high with seasoned meat, with white onion, and enough cilantro to enhance the flavor rather than simply decorate the dish–and the lime is an essential, with at least one healthy wedge per taco.
As for ambiance, it was clean, with enough serve-yourself napkins and a case full of Mexican sodas designed to please the toughest critic. I’ll going back to work my way through the rest of the menu.