Actually, there are a few grocery stores along this strip that I don't ever go to buy groceries, but simply eat at, like a restaurant. For example, there is Supermercado Chicago (5623 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-452-1361, supermercadochicago.negocio.site). Every time I walk into this brightly lit store, with the upbeat música norteña playing over the loudspeakers, I consider buying a jar of pickled eggs or grabbing a handful of limes. In the kitchen aisle, there is even some clay pottery. I've never bought any of that, because I'm always in a hurry to order some tacos at the meat counter, which might be some of the best in Atlanta. The cabeza de res is juicy, stringy, tender and rich. The al pastor is dark, oily and spicy, the little chunks of pork fried almost to a crisp. Behind the meat counter, you might notice the ropes of house-made chorizo hanging on a rack. Split open on a taco, that red sausage is as bright and vividly seasoned as any I've ever tasted. It doesn't hurt that the tortillas and salsa bar are as excellent as any on this stretch of Buford Highway.
The two large grills outside Brito Supermarket are constantly in use on the weekends. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
At Brito Supermarket (3020 Buford Highway, Brookhaven. 404-633-5005, Facebook: Brito Supermarket), I've never even browsed the aisles. I stop there for one reason: the giant smokers pumping out whole chickens and ribs in the parking lot. I would put the pollo asado there up against any barbecue chicken in this city. The meat is spicy and juicy and deeply flavored with thick smoke. Sometimes, I can wait until I get home to eat it, but it's better to sit at one of the picnic tables behind the store and tear right into the delicious meat.
Halo-halo from Manila Mart is a Filipino dessert of shaved ice, evaporated milk, a variety of preserved fruits and boiled sweet beans, coconut flakes, crispy rice cereal and a couple of scoops of ube ice cream, whose bright color comes from purple yam. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LFIGUERAS@AJC.COM
One of the best grocery stores I've been to recently is the tiny Manila Mart (5938 Buford Highway, Doraville. 678-389-8595, sites.google.com/site/manilamart88/home). The small coolers are stocked with Filipino ingredients: jute leaves, lupia wrappers, longanisa pork. To-go containers hold homestyle dishes — chicken adobo, humba, dinuguan — that Martin Gustilo, a friendly presence at the register, will offer to warm up, so that you can eat in the store. If you don't have time for a meal, though, he'll gladly step in the back to whip up a quick cup of halo-halo, a sweet concoction of shaved ice, evaporated milk, purple yam ice cream, beans, corn flakes, and several other ingredients.
The store that the Shinn family opened up 45 years ago probably wasn’t so different from Manila Mart. The ingredients on the shelves might not have been exactly the same, but customers come in the doors for the same reasons: a taste of home, a taste of somewhere far away, or just a taste of something right there in the store.