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.
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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