Exploring La Plaza Tapatia’s New Grocery on the West Side

La Plaza Tapatia’s owner didn’t skimp on amenities at his new, much larger West Side grocery, located across from Hollywood Casino.

Erin Edwards
Columbus Monthly
La Plaza Tapatia owner Gustavo Salazar

La Plaza Tapatia, a West Side staple for 17 years, was busting its 28,000-square-foot seams before it moved this year into a brand-new storefront on Georgesville Road. Now, with 44,000 square feet of space, the grocery’s owner, Gustavo Salazar, is able to realize his dream of delivering to Columbus the kind of modern grocery store found in Mexico today. 

The Mexico City native says (through a translator) that his goal is to meet the community’s needs with a one-stop shop that offers more variety in every department. “There are a lot of people who will come [from] three or four hours away to do their shopping here on a weekend,” he says. 

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The staples are all here: a generous produce section, a solid variety of canned goods, tortillas, hot sauces, dairy products and snacks. For the Latin American community, one of the market’s most important assets is its large meat department, Salazar says, with offerings ranging from marinated fajita meat and tripe (for making menudo) to pork chops, whole chickens and every cut of beef imaginable. 

Nopales and other produce at La Plaza Tapatia

Other highlights include a Crimson Cup coffee counter, a full bar, a truly prolific panadería (Mexican bakery), a candy shop ideal for filling one of the store’s piñatas (or your belly), a full ice cream shop and a cake shop that offers sweets such as gelatina de mosaico (classic Mexican gelatin desserts). 

The new location also boasts a large prepared foods section, but it doesn’t offer the kind of foods (such as tacos and tortas) that you’d find at nearby restaurants. Rather, the grocery’s buffet features the type of meals often cooked at home, Salazar says—braised meats in red sauce, green sauce or mole as well as soups, rice, beans, tamales and barbacoa (on weekends only). There’s a stunning selection of ceviches as well. And don’t forget to order a horchata for the drive home.  

La Plaza Tapatia 

255 Georgesville Road, West Side, 614-276-0333, laplazatapatia.com 

Three Grocery Finds at La Plaza Tapatia 

Huauzontle 

The produce selection at big grocery chains can be wanting for those cooking Latin American food at home. La Plaza offers a fantastic chile pepper selection, plus some hard-to-find fruits, vegetables and herbs, such as chayotes (squash), nopales (cactus leaves), epazote (a pungent herb) and huauzontle (a pre-Hispanic herb that looks like slender broccoli). How is the latter used? First cook the small huauzontle florets in water and strain them. Then take cheese (queso fresco) and cover it in the bright green herb to form a patty. Dip the patties in batter and lightly fry—almost like chile relleno. 

Pan Dulces 

You can’t miss La Plaza’s rows and rows of pan dulces (Mexican pastries and sweet breads). Just grab a pair of tongs, place your pastries on a red tray and walk them over to the bakery attendant for bagging and pricing. The options include churros, marranitos (pig-shaped cookies akin to gingerbread), conchas (maybe the most well-known Mexican sweet bread), barquillos (creme cones) and many more. 

Chicharrones de Harina 

Named after pork rinds for their resemblance, these wheel-shaped (and sometimes rectangular) Mexican street snacks are actually made of flour (harina). You can buy the snacks ready-to-eat or purchase the uncooked version to prepare at home. Just heat vegetable oil on medium-high and fry the wheels until they puff up. Top with lime juice and a spice mix like Tajín before serving. 

This story is from the September 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.