SHREWSBURY AVENUE SPICES UP BANCO ROJO

Nopales, left, and sabila, above, are available at Rincon Latino Supermarket. (Photos by Grace Goldoni. Click to enlarge)

By GRACE GOLDONI

Rich South American hot chocolate in blocks. Subtropical coconuts. Exotic, prickly and tangy vegetables.

We’re not in your typical white-bread American supermarket. Here on Shrewsbury Avenue, the main thoroughfare on Red Bank’s West Side, the striking flavors of fresh and authentic Latin food create a south-of-the-border atmosphere.

In recent decades, this commercial stretch has adopted a strong Latino accent, just like its surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve never stepped outside your car and visited this street, home to about half a dozen bodegas and small grocers, well, grab a shopping cart…

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TINY BODEGA/RESTAURANT GETS BIG PLUG

lachaparrita_01If it seems that La Chaparrita on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank is getting more traffic these days, it could be proof of the power of the plug.

The tiny bodega was featured in Sunday’s New York Times. But not for its fresh fruit and Pinguinos packaged cupcakes.

Turns out the shop has a busy little kitchen turning out “fresh Mexican comfort food” that attracted writer Kelly Feeney’s attention.

Here’s a taste:

The taco platter is an order of three with a choice of chicken, beef or goat meat, among other options ($7). (Platters include a side of rice and beans.) The chicken burrito ($8) was surprisingly light, simply filled with marinated chicken tossed with fresh cilantro and onion; it is topped with a little cheese and comes with chili sauce on the side. The quesadilla al pastor containing spicy pork and pineapple is heftier ($8), as is the huarache, a deep-fried tortilla covered with chorizo, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato ($6; other fillings available).

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