Anita Street Market Does Chorizo Right

Grace Soto is the owner of the Anita Street Market.  Soto has owned and operated the market for almost 13 years.  (Photograph by Ryan Revock)
Grace Soto has owned and operated the Anita Street Market for almost 13 years. (Photograph by Ryan Revock)

When was the last time you craved lymph nodes and salivary glands for breakfast? If you’ve eaten a mass produced chorizo brand there is a good chance you’ve dined on these ingredients.

However, Anita Street Market serves fresh chorizo without any added (and suspect) pork products.

Originating from Spain, chorizo is a term used to describe a specific type of sausage. Spanish chorizo consists of ground pork loin, pork fat and Spanish spices and is generally salted, cured and sliced. Mexican style chorizo is typically ground with pork loin, pork fat and Mexican chili spices and cooks up similar to ground beef.

Over the years the ingredients such as salivary glands, lymph nodes and textured soy flour have been introduced into most store-brand recipes. These recipes replace pork loin meat for cheaper cuts of the pig, sacrificing flavor and creating an unauthentic variety of chorizo meat.

The house-made chorizo at Anita Street Market distinguishes it from other store brands and restaurant marketplaces in Tucson.

“I try to make the best,” owner Grace Soto says. “Every day I hear something people ask and I try to make it.”

Located off Speedway and I-10 at 849 N. Anita Ave., Soto and her late husband started the business more than 13 years ago. The chorizo, however, isn’t the company’s only specialty.

The Food Conspiracy Co-op sells a variety of Anita Street Market products at its location on Fourth Avenue, including whole wheat and corn tortillas and gorditas. The tortillas are in high demand, and continuously draw positive customer feedback, according to Anthony Wallent, an employee at the co-op.

Jason Barragan tosses a tortilla to the next station to continue preparation on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Anita Street Market in Tucson, Ariz.  (Photograph by Ryan Revock)
Jason Barragan tosses a tortilla to the next station to continue preparation. (Photograph by Ryan Revock)

“People ask specifically for those tortillas,” Wallent says. “People really like them. They just fly off the shelves.”

Soto sells her chorizo and tortillas to other businesses but likes to keep it local: her customers include Cup Café at Hotel Congress in addition to the co-op. Soto resides in the same neighborhood as the market, and says she is proud to provide her community with quality Mexican cuisine.

“My husband started with the tortillas and then I started making tortillas,” Soto said. She now shares her tortilla-making skills with children in the neighborhood, including students at Davis Bilingual Elementary Magnet School. By allowing the children to watch the food being prepared, Soto teaches future generations about simple cooking. This interactive involvement with food allows students to appreciate the time, labor and individual ingredients that quality food requires.

After the death of her husband, Soto wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue working.

“When I go home I feel bad, but when I’m here I talk to a lot of people and then I don’t feel bad,” she says. “So I’m here everyday.”

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