Carne asada and chorizo tacos from Carniceria Los Compadres in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Carne asada and chorizo tacos from Carniceria Los Compadres in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snohomish County grocery stores double as dining destinations

These restaurant-grocery hybrids serve up tacos, pupusas, bibimbap and more.

Some of my favorite meals were made in the back of a grocery store.

Spicy, chewy Korean rice cakes known as tteokbokki. Fried cassava with pork belly. Soft, syrupy, cardamom-scented gulab jamun. Fresh manakish — still warm — served with hummus and baba ghanoush.

And of course: pupusas. A signature dish of El Salvador, these griddle cakes (think of a thicker, fluffier corn tortilla) are stuffed with all the things I love. Mostly beans and cheese, though there are many possibilities: pork, squash, jalapeño and loroco, an edible flower found in Central America that tastes like a mellow cross between asparagus and artichoke.

At Pupuseria y Tienda Latina in Marysville, you can get all of the above in their $8 pupusa loca. It proved too “crazy” (sorry) for my coworker and I when we had lunch there the other week, but boy did it sound incredible. Next time.

Snohomish County is dotted with restaurant-grocery hybrids like Pupuseria y Tienda Latina. They aren’t fancy, hip or modern, and my sweatshirt-wearing self is happier for it. I’ve visited two so far.

Those include Carniceria Los Compadres, a Mexican grocery store and — as the name translates — butcher shop in Everett. If you notice piñatas hanging all over as soon as you walk in, plus a giant case solely dedicated to chicharrones, you’re in the right place.

Colorful piñatas line the ceiling above the dining area of Carniceria Los Compadres in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Colorful piñatas line the ceiling above the dining area of Carniceria Los Compadres in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

I ordered one carne asada and one chorizo taco ($2.50 each). They came with lime, sliced radish, serrano and possibly the most delicious grilled onion I’ve ever eaten. I preferred the chorizo taco as the carne asada was a tad dry, but still flavorful with a nice chew to the meat. My coworker Olivia Vanni loved her giant quesadilla, especially the marinade for the chicken.

Next time I stop by I’ll try the tamales. For $2 each, you can choose between sweet corn, chicken and pork. Next to the restaurant, order from a large selection of smoked pork chops, steaks, tripe, ribs, neck bones and other fresh cuts. Carniceria Los Compadres also has a wonderful produce section.

Back in Marysville, I first heard about Pupuseria y Tienda Latina from an enthusiastic reviewer on Facebook, who wrote that these were the “best pupusas I’ve had since living in Cali” and that she “felt like a kid in a candy store.”

Our server there was full of recommendations. Her favorite combos are the loroco and cheese with masa (corn) cake, and the pork, cheese and beans with rice flour, around $3 each. Both have a lightly crispy exterior. I loved the chewy texture of the rice flour tortilla and the nutty, robust flavor of the masa tortilla. Everything came out fresh and hot.

If you eat it with your hands, be sure to make a glorious cheese pull before inhaling. (I unfortunately forgot to partake in this ritual.)

Pupuseria y Tienda Latina in Marysville serves up a variety of pupusas, like pork, bean and cheese and loroco and cheese. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

Pupuseria y Tienda Latina in Marysville serves up a variety of pupusas, like pork, bean and cheese and loroco and cheese. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

I wanted more loroco in mine, but mostly to make my tummy feel better about the abundance of cheese.

Not to worry: We were served a tub of curtido, a cabbage and carrot slaw that serves as the pupusa’s crunchy, acidic counterpart. It usually contains oregano, though I couldn’t taste it here. I scooped on the curtido and poured over the house-made red hot sauce to my liking.

All together, you have a dish that is both light and filling, crispy and soft, spicy, savory, vinegary – or as my coworker Jacqueline Allison succinctly put it: “Solid.” Pupusas really are the perfect dish, especially for a quick, transportable lunch. Two or three will fill you up.

Our server also talked us into ordering Cuzcatlan soda, a Salvadoran beverage known as champagne cola. It was bright orange and basically cotton candy in a bottle. So. Sweet. We couldn’t finish it. They also offer atole, a traditional Mexican hot, sweet and corn-based beverage that I’ll order next time.

In southern Snohomish County, Nuevo Amanecer Pupuseria also serves pupusas and has good reviews. I’m excited to check them out.

So, when you visit the following places for a good meal, don’t be alarmed to find yourself inside a grocery store. Plus, you can pick up Halal meat, Mexican sweets, fresh plump dates, sushi-grade fish, ramen that isn’t Maruchan or Top Ramen brands, and a variety of mushrooms and bok choy and eggplant not usually found in a typical supermarket.

Snohomish County grocery markets that double as dining destinations

Pupuseria y Tienda Latina

409 State Ave, Marysville

What to order: Pupusas, of course! Try the revueltas con queso (pork, beans and cheese), the loroco and the squash blossom with cheese. They also serve Salvadoran-style fries, empanadas, tamales and fried plantain breakfast platters.

Carniceria Los Compadres

5321 Evergreen Way, Everett

What to order: the chicken quesadilla; chorizo, chicken or carnitas tacos; sweet corn, pork or chicken tamales.

H Mart Lynnwood

3301 184th St SW, Lynnwood

What to order: This national supermarket chain boasts an impressive produce, seafood and meat section, plus several varieties of noodles and rice. After your grocery haul, visit the food court for Beard Papa’s cream puffs, Oshima’s sushi and teriyaki offerings; and 2 Thai Kings for the larb, papaya salad, pad see ew, Tom Kha soup and other Thai dishes.

M Market Halal

14920 Hwy 99 #110, Lynnwood

What to order: Customers raved about fresh Iraqi bread, their “fantastic rice kebab”, the “best shawarma in Washington” and “fantastic falafel pitas.”

Did I miss your favorite restaurant-grocery combo? Reach me at 425-339-3046 or email taylor.goebel@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @taylorgoebel. Join our food-centered Facebook group, SnohomDish.

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