In Mexico tripa doesn’t refer to the lining from the first three chambers of a ruminant’s stomach but its small intestine, which, when washed and cleaned, serves as one of the preferred fillings for tacos de fritangas. For this specialty of Mexico City, muscles and organs are “fried” on the periphery of a circular grill with a dome in the middle for warming tortillas. This charola accommodates typical fillings like the pork sausage longaniza; the lean suadero, cut from the brisket; and the tripa. Their juices commingle with the cooking oil, creating a kind of braise, which flavors them and prevents them from drying out, and reminds me a lot of carnitas.

There aren’t too many charolas in town, but there is at least one charola master. In May 2011 LTHers discovered Cesar Castillo, the taquero at La Chaparrita #1, and haven’t stopped singing his praises since. But Castillo, a native of Veracruz, has been working the charola for six years at this grocery/taqueria on a quiet residential corner in Little Village.