la Gloria restaurant and market: so good
By: Aaron Apple and Aaron Kayser
As you drive North on Meridian, on your way to Best Buy or any of the other big-box stores found on that street, it’s easy to forget that locally owned family businesses also exist along the way. One true hidden gem that was brought to our attention recently is La Gloria, a small Mexican restaurant and market located at 4140 Meridian Street.
Since we were both starving and filled with anticipation as we arrived, we decided to visit the restaurant before exploring the market next door. Patrons place their order at the counter and take a seat at one of the 10 or so tables in the room. The first thing we noticed was the extremely reasonable prices and unique items on the menu. Most standard combination plates including an entrée, rice and beans, were either $6 or $7, with most specialty dishes in the $10 range. A la Carte items are much cheaper if you’d rather skip the rice and beans.
Another big highlight here is the meat selection. Their market next door has a huge selection of meats in the case, so perhaps that’s why they are able to offer such a large variety. Beside the standard three meats found at most places (beef, chicken and pork), they offer beef tongue (lengua), chipotle chicken (tinga), pork with pineapple (pastor), steamed beef cheeks (cabeza), ground beef (picadillo), breaded steak (milanesa), tripe, chorizo and fish. A selection like that is unheard of in this town, and we wanted to take advantage of that.
Apple recently traveled to Austin, TX earlier this year and discovered a new love for two things: tortas and al pastor pork. At La Gloria he was able to combine both. The torta ($5.99) is a sandwich filled with meat, mayo, beans, cheese, tomato, lettuce, avocado and jalapenos. The pork was juicy and flavorful, just as you’d imagine pork cooked in pineapple would be, and the bread, flaky on the outside and strong enough to hold the sandwich together, was perfect. The meat, combined with the large amount of wonderful toppings, creates one of the best flavor combinations. He’d been having dreams of a torta like this in Bellingham, and now he can sleep more soundly having found it.
Not knowing for sure how large and satisfying the torta would be, he also ordered an avocado tostada ($1.99), topped with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, four layers of avocado and cotija cheese. Simple yet delicious, there was no way to finish this off after that massive sandwich.
Kayser also ordered a sandwich as his main entrée, but his was a bit different. The pambazo ($5.99) comes in bread that is rubbed with chili paste, creating a pleasant spicy red casing that required many napkins to get through. He decided to be adventurous and order the sandwich with lengua (beef tongue). It also included green salsa, beans and cotija cheese, creating a unique sandwich with bold flavors and textures, unlike any he had eaten before. He also ordered a chicken taco ($1.50) that came topped with chopped onion and a generous heap of cilantro, along with slices of lime and radish on the side.
After our hearty meals, topped with a glass of horchata, we took a look at the market. Between its narrow aisles are hard-to-find Mexican spices and specialty foods, as well as leather boots and belts, cowboy hats and a plethora of other knick-knacks. The market is definitely worth checking out before braving the traffic again on Meridian, especially for food-lovers.
La Gloria Market and Restaurant is located at 4140 Meridian Street in Bellingham. They can be contacted at (360) 733-9102 for hours, and www.lagloriamarket.com for the menu and more information.