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Published August 27, 2012, 11:39 PM

Tasty: La Unica has weekend breakfast wrapped up

MOORHEAD – Good things can come from unexpected places. Who would expect tasty breakfasts coming from what appears to be a row of garages just off Main Avenue in south Moorhead? Only those savvy enough to patronize La Unica, a Mexican grocery store during the week and (until now) one of the best kept breakfast secrets in town on the weekend.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

If you go

What: La Unica

When: Food served from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday and Sundays

Where: 2615 12th Ave. S., Moorhead

Info: (218) 236-1075

MOORHEAD – Good things can come from unexpected places.

Who would expect tasty breakfasts coming from what appears to be a row of garages just off Main Avenue in south Moorhead? Only those savvy enough to patronize La Unica, a Mexican grocery store during the week and (until now) one of the best kept breakfast secrets in town on the weekend.

The market’s appeal is simple – it’s all in the food, and for the most part the food is wrapped in fresh tortillas. Breakfast tacos like huevos al la Mexicana (eggs with onion, jalapeno and tomato) and huevos con chorizo (eggs and Mexican sausage) make it worth searching out the spot.

The store itself is small; shelves are filled with Mexican ingredients and coolers stocked with corn and flour tortillas, salsas and other delicacies. And if you get more than four people in the store, the place gets crowded.

“It’s crazy in here on the weekend,” says owner Paul Bakkum.

Visitors go to the back to the northeast corner by the door to the kitchen to a stand with menus and pens. Just check the blanks next to items you want, hand it to one of the women in the back and try to stay out of shoppers’ ways until your food is brought to the front counter. If you have questions about the selections, a modified menu is on the front counter.

With breakfast tacos for just $2.29 and regular tacos for $2.89, you’ll want to sample some different flavors. Try the barbacoa (regular or picante), the cheek meat from the cow Bakkum describes as a “rich, rich flavor. It doesn’t taste like any other beef you’ve ever had.”

If you want a real hearty start to the day, consider the frijoles con chorizo (beans with sausage) taco.

One to approach warily would be the chicharrones con salsa (pork cracklings with salsa), Bakkum says.

“Mexicans like it, but for someone to try it the first time, they would probably spit it out,” he says with a laugh, miming picking and spitting something out of his mouth.

Adventurous eaters, or just the very hungover, may also want to tackle the menudo, the Mexican soup, believed to have restorative powers, is made out of tripe not the Mexican boy band that gave us Ricky Martin. The menudo comes in large ($9.50) and smaller ($4.75) servings.

I’ve never seen coffee offered, but you can get milk or a variety of sugary fruit drinks. But if it’s a buzz you’re looking for, get a Mexican Coke, the ones in the slim glass bottles. As opposed to the classic cola we’re used to in plastic bottles or cans, this seems to have a spicier, deeper taste.

And if you’re looking for a sweet treat, try the empanadas for 99 cents. Packed with pumpkin, apple, pineapple or sweet potato filling, these pastry pockets are filling and can easily be split in half.

The only drawback of La Unica is lack of space to eat, and you’ll want to chow down as soon as you get your food. There’s usually a table outside, and you’re lucky if you get a seat at it. Ultimately many wolf down their tacos as soon as they get back to their cars.

Bakkum says they served breakfasts in the past, but eventually quit doing so. About a year ago they started again, the word spread, a steady following developed, and business took off. Bakkum estimates they sell about 500 tacos in a weekend.

Not bad for a five-hour window on Saturdays and Sundays, when La Unica is open from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

He says people often ask for him to extend hours and to add more lunch, but he has no plans to expand the operation.

“It’s really labor intensive,” he says. “It would just be too much work.”

Some may say it’s too much work getting to this out-of-the-way eatery, so once you get there, pick up some goodies like a bag of tortillas, a couple of MexiCokes and empanadas for the rest of the weekend, and you’ve checked breakfast and groceries off your list with one stop.

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