Bymore Taqueria

For several months – since it opened, really – I’ve been encouraging people in the Twin Cities to visit the Hmong Village shopping center on Saint Paul’s east side. Some people aren’t that enthused about visiting a truly unique asian mall (and food court!), but I tell ’em to man up, as it were, and step outside their comfort zone for once, as the rewards are well worth it.

Valuable advice that I, myself, am often a little reluctant to follow, sadly.

Not quite so far east on the east side is Payne Avenue, a north-south street that was once the nexus of a big working-class, largely Italian-American, neighborhood. In the last decade, it’s become the nexus of a big working-class Latin-American immigrant community. Rarely is heard an English word, and it’s hard to find parking all day.

It’s also – let’s be honest here – not the greatest neighborhood in the city. The storefronts which aren’t adorned with Spanish-language signs are adorned with “registered vacant building” or “condemned structure” notices. Gang graffiti is widespread. Everything seems dirty and gritty and faded.

It’s an area I honestly try to avoid. Especially on foot. Doubly-especially after dark.

That said, the other day, I was in the area, and I was hungry, so I took my own advice, left my comfort zone, and braved Payne Ave in search of food…

At 870 Payne – on the corner with Wells, just two blocks north of Phalen Boulevard and the bike trail there – is “Bymore Taqueria”, a deceptively small-looking taco (and everything else Mexican) shop affiliated in some way with the “Bymore Supermercado” grocery store across the street. It’s been there a couple of years, I believe. The entrance is actually on Wells, rather than Payne, but that’s only the first bit of confusion you’ll encounter.

Inside is a clean, well-lit restaurant where all the signs are in a broken mix of English and Spanish, there’s no menu per se (and no prices), and the friendly staff will evidently make you just about anything Mexican, to order. It’s housed in an old, probably WWI-era building that’s only been partially remodeled over the years, so boasts a 20-foot ceiling decorated with old, ornate, pressed-tin panels.

I opted for a chicken burrito. It set me back seven bucks. (Exactly seven bucks, mirroring a trend I’ve noticed of late at small ethnic restaurants to make prices be round dollar figures, including tax. Coins happen to other people, I guess.) About five minutes later, it was ready.

If you’ve ever eaten at a Chipotle restaurant, Bymore’s burrito will be superficially familiar to you – a more-than-one-pound mix of rice, meat, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, cheese, and sundry seasonings, wrapped in a flour tortilla, itself wrapped in a sheet of aluminum foil. (And then placed in a styrofoam container, when “to go”, a feature this cyclist appreciated.) There were probably other ingredients as well – I thought I tasted avocado, for example, but didn’t immediately spot any recognizable bits, though I didn’t actually disassemble the burrito, either.

That’s about where the comparison ends, though. Bymore’s burrito had a much more complex flavor than Chipotle’s kind of monotonous one-note construction; it also featured a much more homogenized construction, with none of the obvious strata layers or little pockets of nothing-but-rice you so frequently find on the chain restaurant’s slapped-together concoctions. It was also wrapped in a very thin, very tasty tortilla, which was a delightful contrast to the chewy roofing shingle that surrounds a Chipotle burrito.

I should also point out what is perhaps the most telling yet cynical sign of quality surrounding Bymore’s offering: unlike Chipotle, it completely failed to produce any sort of gastrointestinal discomfort.

Yep, affordable Mexican food that evidently won’t make you violently ill.

So, bottom line: an easily-overlooked Mexican restaurant in an out-of-the-way neighborhood on Saint Paul’s near east side, well worth a visit if you want some good, probably extremely authentic Mexican food.

Bymore Taqueria is at 870 Payne Avenue. The sign on the door suggests they’re open until 9pm weekdays, 10pm weekends. They don’t have a website, they – at a guess – probably don’t take checks or credit cards, parking is iffy at the best of times, and I wouldn’t hold out any hope of vegan, gluten-free, or other special-diet offerings.

Go on, you know you want to…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 17th, 2011| 1 Comment »

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  1. On 5/19/2011 at 10:19 am Jessica K Said:

    I have eaten there, and as most mexican food that uses corn tortillas is already gluten free, I have been fine eating the traditional tacos there. I just don’t order anything with a flour tortilla.