Solidly into Week Two of Ohio’s “stay-at-home” order, the Top Underrated Quarantine Snacks series continues its voracious plod through Toledo’s specialty markets in search of edible sundries not easily found in boring chain supermarkets. This week’s specialty market snack foraging took place at San Marcos Mexican Grocery (235 Broadway) – whose attached restaurant is in our comprehensive restaurant take-out guide.
Supplement your excessive screen time with these budget-friendly food items:
Spicy Beef Patties
Anyone longing for a taste of this quintessential New York City bodega fare can relax knowing that Caribbean-style beef patties are available in San Marcos’s frozen foods section. After A-B testing the two patties that come in each box, microwaving one and oven-heating the other, opt for the oven. The final product’s delightfully greasy crust blankets a style of pulverized beef reminiscent of Taco Bell’s crunchy tacos. And contrary to what the packaging claims, though the ground beef is certainly spiced, as in seasoned, these beef patties aren’t “spicy” in a Scoville-scale sense, so calm down already.
Perhaps the most underrated snack of the bagged corn chip snack taxonomy, Takis, specifically the “Fuego” flavor, live up to their hype. The corn chips are rolled, toasted and coated in a scarlet powder that imbues these elevated corn chips with a pleasing balance of lime, spice and salt. Be thankful that these are sold in four-ounce portions; Fuego Takis are the genre of snack that you’ll keep munching until the bag is empty.
The real sugar in lime-flavored Jarritos lends this carbonated beverage an extra lift. Its closest analogue is probably a craft version of Sprite, though even that comparison might diminish what’s going on inside this bottle. For another level of citrus, opt for the grapefruit flavor, which is closer in taste to a Fresca made with real sugar. If imbibing after whatever time of day you’ve decided is appropriate to begin drinking alcohol, lime or grapefruit Jarritos each work well with vodka or clear tequila.
Pork Skins (Chicharrones) & Plantain Chips
Though a distant second place behind the Takis, biting into some popped pork and plantains might be satisfying on a more primal level. This combination of cholesterol-rich meat snack and fried starchy tree fruit salted with chili and lime is another of the category that commands snackers to finish the entire bag. You’ll feel better about this inevitable reality if you convince a quarantine friend to join you.
Made from avocados, at least conceptually, this creamy iteration of salsa packs a slight citrus kick well suited for tackling a bowl of corn chips (that is, if you’ve retained enough dignity at this point in the quarantine to pour your corn chips into a bowl). Pair with re-runs of NBA playoff games and address any Thank You cards to: Sonny Forrest, 1120 Adams St. Toledo, OH 43604
Located on a rack of miscellaneous sweets near the cash register, Pulparindo represents a departure from the excessively sweet candy I grew up addicted to. Described by my snack companion as “salty, sandy Bubblicious-flavored candy,” Pulparindo seems best enjoyed cut into small pieces and shared among quarantine mates as a palate cleanser.
Gamesa Barras de Coco (Coconut Cookies)
Alternatively, if you aren’t ready to make the mental leap required to enjoy salty fruit pulp candy, Gamesa’s Barras de Coco (literal translation: “Coconut Bars”) are another solid post-meal or anytime dessert snack. These coconut cookies are inflected with an almond flavor that may present a real and immediate test to your willpower.