Food Issue - Around the world: Mexico

The bazaar wonders of Plaza Fiesta

Thursday October 21, 2010 04:00 am EDT

Walking through the tinted doors of Plaza Fiesta is an assault on of the senses. A burst of refrigerated air hits your face. Video games ping and bleep, and children playing in the indoor playground squeal happily. Bright neon lights frame each storefront. The smell of sizzling meats and fried dough wafts from the food stalls. It feels as though you've landed in one of the vibrant bazaars found all over Mexico.

Wander past the main corridor and explore the winding hallways where vendors sell everything from the most obscure Mexican candies and snacks to full on gut-busting meals. Forgo the Carnitas Michoacan at the front of the mall and hit the tiny bar of the other — and unaffiliated — Carnitas Michoacan near the back entrance. You can eat in the adjoining dining area, but the small carnitas counter has more personality. A large glass box holds every variety of pig imaginable. Everyone loves the pork costilla (ribs), but Anthony Bourdain disciples should try a mixed taco in which every part of the pig (offal and all) is finely chopped, tucked into a tortilla and topped with a shower of sharp white onion, grassy cilantro, and some spicy green avocado salsa.

Next door is one of Atlanta's best dining deals: Mi Tierra, where you can get a whole roasted chicken dinner complete with a stack of handmade tortillas, smooth refried beans, Mexican rice, a small romaine salad, and a trio of spicy salsas for just $16. Take it to go or hang around the bar with the rest of the diners shoving chicken tacos in their mouths as they catch up on the their wildly melodramatic Mexican soap operas. If you still have room on your way out, hit the food court's churro stand, where you can get a sugar-encrusted stick of fried dough filled with everything from fruit preserves to sticky cajeta (condensed goat's milk).

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