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Houston's Airline Flea Market/Mercado

Fruit stand at the Airline Flea Market in Houton

The “Flea Markets” on Airline Drive in North Houston form a giant mercado that draws some 50,000 Latino shoppers every weekend. Each flea market has its own taquerias and food stands.

Agua Fresca de Tamarindo

De Buey Y Vaca is the most famous taqueria. (Buey y vaca means ox and cow, or steer and cow.) My favorite dish there was the barbacoa soup. Barbacoa soup belongs in the family of menudo, posole, and caldo de res. It’s a weekend breakfast soup eaten with a squeeze of lime, chopped onions and cilantro and a stack of tortillas. If you like barbacoa, this stuff will knock your socks off.

Barbacoa soup at De Buey Y Vaca

De Buey Y Vaca also had tacos dorados (golden tacos). These are tortillas that have been stuffed and secured with toothpicks, then deep-fried. The sweet potato version was bland, the refried bean filled taco was pretty good, but the best by far was the one filled with sesos, or brains. Brains are pretty neutral-tasting, really. That’s why brains and eggs became such a popular Southern dish–if no one told you what you were eating, you’d think it was tofu.

Tacos Dorados-de frijoles, camote y sesos

Sunny Flea Market specializes in fruits and vegetables. Cut-up melons, mangos, cucumbers and coconuts were among the fruit cups on sale at the Sunny fruit stand on Saturday morning. The lady behind the counter was also selling hot elote (sweet corn) on a stick or in a bowl along with chile powder-covered mangos on a stick and half coconuts. I had a bowl of elote, or sweet corn, mixed with sour cream, parmesan and chile powder. The strawberries on a stick covered with strawberry-flavored sour cream were quite nice too.

Fresas con Crema at Sunny

There were several Mexican hot dog stands here too. Mexican hot dogs start with bacon-wrapped frankfurters and are usually topped with beans, avocado, and salsa.

Mexican hotdoguero at Sunny

Mercado SabaDomingo has a huge dance hall and both outdoor and indoor vendor’s stalls. I had some chicharrones made from deep fried pork belly there.

Hot chicharonnes

Their food stands include several that specialize in goat tacos.

Goat tacos

If you enjoy strolling around a Mexican Mercado, check this place out some weekend. It’s open Saturdays and Sundays only.

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