On weekends a traditional butcher at a "carniceria Mexicana" located in a warehouse complex in Miami Lakes puts on a chef's hat to delight his customers with homemade food.
Franco's Distributor owner Marco Antonio Franco, 40, uses a family recipe from Mexico to make "tacos de carnitas Mexicanas," one of his favorite dishes.
"The flavor of my Michoacán style 'carnitas' is unique," Franco said. "No other 'carniceria' does what I do to keep customers coming back."
This "light snack," as Franco calls it, consists of 40 pounds of fried salted pork meat simmered for more than three hours in a gigantic "cazo," a pot made from hammered copper. Once cooked, the flavorful, juicy meat is placed on top of warm homemade Mexican tortillas garnished with a fresh chopped spicy sauce known as "salsa casera" - a blend of tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic and salt – and sold for $1.50 each.
Lisbeth Ayala, 18, and Alejandro Villanueva, 17, a Nicaraguan teenage couple visits the market every weekend to munch on the tacos and shop for "paletas Michoacanas," which are icy, slightly creamy popsicles of different flavors sold at the market.
"My mother buys all types of meat here, but I come every weekend for the tacos and the
paletas," Ayala said. "The flavor of the meat mixed with the salsa is addictive, and I eat two or three tacos in no time."
Franco's products include many types of USDA approved meat, ranging from American meat cuts - like T-bone steak, N.Y. strip, sirloin steak and flap meat - to homemade Mexican and Argentinean chorizos, as well as Brazilian cuts like picanha, which most American butchers know as the cap of the top sirloin. He also distributes several types of cheese, from typical Mexican cheese - like "queso fresco" --to Swiss and American cheese - and sells a variety of seafood.
Franco worked as a butcher and manager for 19 years at Normandy supermarket in Miami Beach before establishing his distribution business two years ago.
He said he wanted his business to resemble a typical "Latino carniceria" and to stand out from regular supermarkets by giving personalized service to his customers while offering competitive prices and top of the line products.
"My customers range from those looking for fresh items to cook a hearty meal for their families to those asking for rare meat cuts like bull testicles and cattle brain or femur bones for their dogs," Franco said. "If my customers ask me for ears, I will get it for them."
Tacos de carnitas Mexicanas (tacos filled with slow cooked pork) at Franco's Distributor. Photo: Allison C. Diaz/Miami.com