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Karen Deli Grocery

It’s Friday night, and all six tables at the back of Karen Deli Grocery are filled with men tucking into steaming stews and tamales. Some watch TV shows on their phones, some excitedly converse in Spanish, and others silently savor their food. All diners sit beneath the watchful eyes of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph figures, and amid the clatter and hum of the tiny adjacent kitchen run by two women.

Though Sunset Park is known for its large Mexican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican populations, there is also a small Guatemalan community in the Brooklyn neighborhood, and the back of this bodega provides a delicious window into this world. From the front, Karen Deli looks like any other bodega, with shelves of peppers, tortillas, candy, and fruit. But the second you reach the back, the giant colorful mural of Guatemala and smell of stewing meat will signal you’ve discovered something special.


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