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Originally published December 1, 2010 at 7:04 PM | Page modified December 3, 2010 at 12:44 PM

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Finding good tastes on Aurora Avenue North

Discovering some worthwhile ethnic eateries and markets on Seattle's oft-derided Aurora Avenue North.

Seattle Times staff reporter

1 Mendoza's Mexican Mercado, 7811 Aurora Ave. N. — Opened about three months ago. Your one-stop shop for all the Mexican ingredients you need to master Rick Bayless' cookbook. There is a Mexican butcher shop, too, featuring beef tongue, beef knuckles and oxtail. From the same owner who runs the restaurant next door.

2 Barriga Llena, 7815 Aurora Ave. N. — Next door. The Mexican torta sandwich is the specialty. Colorful Jarritos soda bottles line the counter. Its "Barrigona" torta would frighten even some hard-core carnivores. It's a grilled sandwich with a steak, topped with pork loin, chorizo, hot dog and cheese, with lettuce, tomato and avocado. You might go vegan for a week after downing this. labarrigallena.com

3 Continental Spices & Halal Meats, 7819 Aurora Ave. N. — One of the city's most exotic frozen-food sections, featuring flatbread Paratha and Indian treats such as Chana Bhatura and Ragda Pattice. Also has frozen entrees of samosas, falafels, lamb kebabs and gyro meat.

4 Eddie's Pan Asian Restaurant, 7821 Aurora Ave. N. — The latest in a long line of Indian, Pakistani and Thai restaurants to try to make a go at this address. Maybe, some good karma finally. Eddie has built a small following for his pan-Asian cuisine, including the house specialty, Halibut with Tamarind Sauce. www.eddies1989panasianrestaurant.com

This month we head to the north end, Aurora Avenue North — yeah, the stretch of Highway 99 that has become notorious for prostitution and drug dealing. But really, there's some good up here.

The early-risers line up on weekends for the 12-egg omelets at Beth's Café. The late risers and the hung over get their pho and cream puffs at Than Brothers. Beer fans hit Über Tavern, a well-kept secret of the microbrew community.

Many immigrant entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the cheap rent to open up shops along Highway 99. We take a look at Aurora Avenue between North 78th and 79th streets, which features two immigrant groceries and two ethnic dining joints.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

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