The Carnicería Connoisseur: HEB’s Mi Tienda in Pasadena

According to the sign out front, Mi Tienda is HEB’s version of a “carniceria.” And at 63,000 feet, it’s a pretty impressive effort. After a tour of the place, I sampled the $5 torta Cubana.

This awesome sandwich starts with a fresh bolillo, spread with refried beans on the bottom half. The beans are topped with a beef milenesa patty (which looks a lot like a small chicken-fried steak). Then comes a slice of pork, a slice of ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato and guacamole, with sour cream and mayo spread on the top half of the roll. Add some jalapeños and a lemon squeeze or two and you’re all set.

Mi Tienda’s style of torta Cubana is properly called a torta Cubana ala Mexicana to distinguish it from the Miami pressed Cuban sandwich, which is typically roast pork, ham and cheese on a roll that’s been toasted until slightly flat in a machine called a sandwich press.

At the huge taqueria section of the Mi Tienda store you will also find fajitas, carnitas, chicken and chicharonnes tacos for $1.29 on corn tortillas and $1.49 on flour tortillas. There are also quesadillas, burritos and other sandwiches. Then there’s the seafood counter which sells six varieties of ceviche, all ready to eat in the huge dining area.

The president of HEB’s Houston office has called Mi Tienda “Central Market with a sombrero.” That’s because all 352 employees speak Spanish and the aisles are stocked with Latin-American staples and decorated with piñatas. Which only makes sense, since 70 percent of the surrounding neighborhood in Pasadena is Hispanic.

Stop by this place on a Sunday morning and you’d think you were on vacation in Mexico. – Robb Walsh

Mi Tienda, 1630 Spencer Highway in Pasadena, 713-941-7550

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