Walk into Tienda La Libertad, a Mexican and Latin American grocer on 2231 West Liberty in Ann Arbor and you will feel like you have been transported to Mexico. That is the way Cesar Hervert, the owner Tienda La Libertad wants it.
In fact many of the customers and employees speak to each other in Spanish, so if you did not know it, you would think you were in another country.
A hand written sign next to the entrance advertises $1.59 tacos. For those who have not been to the grocer in a while, these are new as of this January.
For regulars like a tall Spanish speaking guy wearing a T-shirt with a soccer player in an astronaut suit, these tacos are comfort food.
He orders two beef tongue tacos, which are his favorite. He would like to see them offer tripe (beef intestine) tacos and beef brain.
“Beef tongue is very tasty. It tastes similar to raccoon,” he said with a smile. Tienda La Libertad does not serve raccoon.
He said that he had tried raccoon tacos, but it is not a traditional meat served on tacos in Mexico.
Famed food writer Calvin Trillin in his book, The Tummy Trilogy, notes the importance of seeing tripe on the menu of a taco joint. He is not a fan of tripe, but he sees tripe on the menu as a sign that the place is the real deal.
Tripe not withstanding, Teinda La Libertad is the real deal.
Hervert has big plans for the prepped food aspect of the business. They just installed a hot bar which features beans and rice, soup and three sections of meat.
“You come in. You get your meal and you are good to go,” said Hervert.
The hot bar was just installed the day before and Hervert is excited about it.
They currently can only offer take out, but Hervert says that will change soon.
“We are going to have seating for 20 inside,” said Hervert gesturing to the open space near the hot bar. “We will also have tables outside for another 20.”
Hervert is working out the details with the city to offer seating, so he could not say exactly when sit down dining will be available.
For now there is a standing room only counter off to the side where customer orders tacos.
Prepared food is only one aspect of Tienda La Libertad. Their main business is groceries.
“I mostly get tortilla, refried beans, chips and the Mexican cheese Queso Fresco,” said Rita Nelson, a regular customer. “I do not get taco there. I make my own at home.”
They also have fresh baked goods, and other items like prepaid phone cards, Spanish language DVD rentals and Western Union money transfers for customers to send money to relatives living in Mexico.
Tienda La Libertad is located on Ann Arbor’s west side at 2231 West Liberty St, near W. Stadium Blvd.
Open Daily 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.,
Sundays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.