When we first moved to New Braunfels over 5 years ago, one of our favorite local places to go (other than the rivers, of course) was Polly’s Pet Shop. Being an animal friendly family, the kids loved to go check it out. They had the coolest set-ups and displays… it was like a miniature zoo. Plus, it wasn’t one of the big box pet stores, those places suck. Polly’s was a local mom and pop shop and that’s where we like to spend our money. (Go local, people!) After a couple of years, they decided to expand and moved into the Marketplace Plaza. For the record, the new place is pretty awesome and we still haven’t spent a dime at the Petsmart that opened in the new Target shopping center. Once they moved, the old place sat empty for several years. One day, while taking the kids to CiCis Pizza, we noticed a banner in the window…
Guadalajara Meat Market”
What the what?! The very last thing we expected to see in an old pet shop was a meat market! We laughed about it and I vowed to never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever shop there. I don’t have anything against meat markets, I love to stop at Granzin’s! (If you’re local, you agree; if you ever visit New Braunfels, it’s imperative that you stop there, even if it’s just for a sandwich made at the deli!) It just felt dirty and unhygenic. I mean, I knew that it would be cleaned, painted, and remodeled, but that can’t erase the memory of snakes, mice, fish, insects, and other animals previously living in the same space as carnitas and lengua. I don’t have anything against Mexican meat markets, either. When I lived in Houston, I was always going to a La Michoacana Meat Market (a Houston based, state-wide chain) for pre-seasoned fajitas. (If you’re from Texas, you understand.)
Without advertising and fanfare, I don’t think the Chamber even held a ribbon cutting ceremony, the Guadalajara Meat Market opened. I drove past it daily and never considered going inside… until one day on my way home from work. I got a text from my daughter asking one of the most dreaded questions a mom can hear. I get asked this question daily and rarely have an immediate answer:
“Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Ugh. I try to come up with ideas that are quick, cheap, easy, and creative, but all the Pinterest recipes in the world aren’t going to actually stock my pantry with groceries. This day, I knew there was nothing in there and the mere idea of hitting up HEB or Wal-Mart at 5:00 pm made me want to vomit. Out of ideas and out of options, I decided to break my vows and stop in. I pushed open the door, full of disdain and bias, expecting to see, well, I don’t know what I expected. I guess I just thought it would suck. But it didn’t. There was no sign that this place was ever a pet shop or anything other than a cute little grocery store with a meat market in the back. It has a nice tile floor, a small but well stocked produce department, a great selection of “ethnic foods,” (that’s the politically correct way of saying “Imported from Mexico”) light groceries, beer, toiletries, and the best bakery ever! The guy working in back was young, either still in high school or just graduated. He is always polite, friendly, and talkative. He remembers me and asks about Lyric every day. Yes, every day. Once swearing to never shop there, I now stop in daily to pick up what I need. The bakery is amazing and so inexpensive! The bolillos are fresh and those apple turnovers I’m always talking about are only 69 cents!
Fast forward to yesterday:
Mikayla was having her best friend, Faythe spend the night, so I decided to make fettucini alfredo for dinner. I already had everything I needed except the chicken, so naturally, I went to Guadalajara on my way home. It was a hot day and I was wearing a cute maxi dress in a halter style with flops. Smiling at my young friend behind the counter, (and without thinking) I said,
“I’ll have 2 large breasts, please.”
He had an immediate smirk on his face (oh, juveniles!) stammered a moment, tried to regain his composure while trying to maintain eye contact, and finally stuttered out,
“(Clearing throat) Yes, ma’am. Need anything else?”
Um, no. I didn’t need anything else except to maybe think before I speak. Next time I’m ordering by the pound.
*Related story: Just because I left Houston in 2007, I can’t stay away. I make it a point to visit every 6 weeks or so, usually to hang out with friends, see a show, and end the night with drinks at Catbird’s. (When you are in Houston, make sure you go to The Bird! The staff is great, the patio is great, and the patrons are sensational! You’ll meet some of the best folks in your entire life at this little place on Westheimer.) We had a routine. I’d head east on I-10, stop in Katy at my best gals house, (she lived on Delta Queen, but I always called it Delta Dawn) get dressed to paint the town red, hit up Chapultepec (on Richmond near Montrose) for Gran Gala Margaritas, see a show, head to Etro (next to Catbird’s) for some dancing, (they have the best 80’s new wave-ish DJ’s – just like Fame City) and finish off the night at Lola’s Depot or back at The Bird. If we were lucky and up for it, we could go upstairs at Notsuoh (that’s “Houston” backwards if you’re not in the know) for some after hours partying. We’d make it back to Katy just before sunrise, sometimes after, get some rest, and wake up with the terrible hangovers. What better way to cure a hangover than with a delicious breakfast taco? We would stop at the Sac N Pac for ICEE’s to rehydrate and head over to La Michoacana for picadillo tacos with fresh cilantro and chopped onion. We always thought it ironic that it was a “Meat Market” because everytime we walked in the old men sitting at tables sipping coffee and licking their chops (that’s so punny!) would stare us down as if we were a piece of meat.