Jul 29, 2009

The Best Meat in Town

I love food dive joints. I look for them wherever I'm at - Fuengirola, Manila, Chicago, Paris, Tortola. The soul of any city could be found where the masses eat. Plastic chairs, tacky placemats, poor lighting, off the beaten path locations.

I remember this Vietnamese dive my sister and my Mom took us in Hong Kong. It is located in a shabby alleyway near Lan Kwai Fong. We walked up this narrow wooden stairway, single file, maneuver our way pass rows of black hair diners cramped like new turf in the front room, duck underneath exposed pipes, before finding our way to our table located next to the one closet size bathroom. I can literally hear every trickle of pee from where I sat. But that damn house "ketchup rice" was to die for! I'll even flush the toilet for you. It was that good.

Closer to home, El Granjero (formerly El Ganadero) on the intersection of Bridge and Lane on the west side of the Grand river is my kind of dive. Most of the Mexican restaurants in the city are more American and Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican. I discovered this restaurant several years ago when only the hispanics came here. But I couldn't forget the carne asada burrito I ordered filled with sauteed onions, lettuce,tomatoes, chiles, fresh avocado and accompanied with a side of sauteed green onions. Their salsa is freshly made and quite addicting. My Mom (who lives in Paris) and sister (who lives in Hong Kong) also swears by this place.

A Mexican-American friend of mine from the Zapopan, Mexico, Grand Rapids Sister City Committee, Arturo Armillo, invited me to join him for lunch this afternoon. I told him that I wanted him to take me to his favorite Mexican dive. And sure enough, we landed right here at the El Granjero. Great minds (and appetite's) think alike.

Former waitress, Mercedes Lopez, of Mexico City,
is now the owner of El Granjero.

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