Supermercado Guanajuato is more than just a grocery store. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

I had done a quick look-about at Supermercado Guanajuato late last year, but I didn’t bother to test out the taqueria inside the front part of the Latin supermarket. A friend just a couple of weeks ago told me I’d better go back, and soon.

He was right. My girlfriend, Cynthia, and I not only had a delicious lunch in the small eatery, located inside the market on Preston Highway, we ended up getting bags of produce, fresh-made pastries and other groceries before we left — and for bargain prices.

When we arrived, the place was buzzing. Three or four checkout lanes greet you as you enter, with the taqueria on the left. We ducked in there first and found the place in dire need of some busing work, with every open booth being littered with post-dining dishes left behind.

Fresh Mexican food, low prices. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Guanajuato is not a free-chips-and-salsa kind of place — it’s more like fast-casual style, wherein you read a menu board, place your order at an order window, seat yourself and wait for your food to come out (tables are numbered).

The only difference is, you approach the window after you finish and pay before you leave.

I am a taco fiend, so I chose to order a pair of lengua tacos and a single chorizo taco, while Cynthia chose an al pastor taco and a chicken gordita. Simple, but we figured if we were still hungry, we could always get more.

We moved aside a few dishes to squeeze into a booth, and we soon noticed a busser had been set to work and was starting the process of getting the place ready for more diners (there were clean tables in the center, but we preferred the booth).

Near the order window, there’s a taco bar, if you will, with radish slices, pickled vegetables, salsas and such. The space was decorated with multicolored banners and scenes from Mexico, hanging over a red-and-black-tiled floor. Other than the waiting-to-be-bused booths, the place was clean and inviting.

They don’t skimp on the tacos. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

It was maybe a 10-minute wait for our food, no more, and we quickly knew we weren’t going to be ordering more. The tacos came as expected, in doubled-up, fresh corn tortillas, with plenty of fresh cilantro and chopped onions, with big portions of meat in each.

But Cynthia’s gordita truly stood out, served in a corn shell that had a consistency similar to a fresh-baked cookie, shredded white cheese, lettuce and tomatoes spilling out onto the brown plate.

Shortly after our food arrived, a gentleman in a cowboy hat and tan coat walked in, strumming an acoustic guitar. Quite an addition to the ambience.

My lengua tacos were quite good, the meat so tender it was nearly the cliché of melt-in-your-mouth. I’ve had more flavorful lengua, but this stuff was quite good.

But the chorizo was right over the plate, with a big, spicy flavor, cooked just right to give it bits of char, and not overly greasy to make it too messy. I used a spicy roja salsa on the chorizo, but a creamy avocado/jalapeno sauce on the table worked wonderfully with the lengua.

Chicken gordita | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The al pastor pork was well-marinated and flash-fried for some crispy edges, but the gordita went above and beyond. It was so stuffed with ingredients that it resembled one of those holiday illustrations of a cornucopia.

I managed to get a bite — Cynthia had to stop and consider whether she wanted to share — and everything in it was downright tasty. And fresh. The chicken’s seasoning was nice, too, flavorful but not applying heat.

“I think I might cry,” she said after a few bites, later adding, “This might be the best gordita I’ve ever had.”

She even considered getting one to go, but thought better of it, as we had shopping to do. She finally said: “We’re coming back here. That tortilla and that bread could be served on heaven’s buffet.”

There’s fresh-baked bread and pastries just steps from the taqueria. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Yes, fresh-made breads and tortillas are part of what Guanajuato does.

There are plenty of groceries, items like prayer candles, a butcher shop (I didn’t linger there, but saw pig brains and fresh chicharrones), and I walked away with bags of Thai chilies, habanero peppers, red jalapeño peppers, ancho chilies and chipotle peppers, not to mention a couple of cartons of assorted tomatoes, from San Marzano to pear tomatoes.

If you go, plan to stop at the taqueria, which also offers Mexican staples like burritos, quesadillas, tortas, plus soups like menudo and caldo de res.

Supermercado Guanajuato, located at 6201 Preston Hwy., is open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. There also is a location at 5624 Bardstown Road.

Kevin Gibson

Kevin Gibson

Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]