Updated June, 2017
I take a brief pause from my usual feast or blast review column to fill do-it-yourselfers in on my favorite sources for great products, both foreign and national. Mexico City food shopping will not disappoint the most discerning gourmand.
MERCADO SAN JUAN
Calle Ernesto Pugibet, centro
Metro Salto de Agua – walk up Calle Lopez and turn left at Delicias (or down Lopez if you are coming from the Alameda – you will see the enormous Telmex tower which is across the street
The market is, in theory, open daily until around 5 p.m. but some vendors start packing up earlier – there is free parking for customers next door.
This renowned market has existed in some form since colonial times. Chefs and home cooks alike frequent its aisles in search of the perfect duck, cabrito, or lobster. Exotic fresh produce and fruits are offered as are artisan national and imported cheeses: go to Gastronomica San Juan, stall no.162,and its neighbor La Jersey – they will let you sample. The nationally produced and excellent goat, cow and sheep cheese, many from the state of Queretaro are much cheaper than the imported ones.
These stands, as well as La Catalana offer good cold cuts as well.
In the seafood area mussels, clams oysters and calamares (they will clean them on request) are often available fresh as are unusual varieties of fish, fresh tuna and amazing big shrimp either in or out of the shell.
Spaniards eyes will pop when they see the hideous but delicious percebes at a fraction of the price of the old country.
In the meat section, you’ll have to stomach the piles of sacrificed kid goat and bunny corpses. Chef and food consultant Stan swears by stands 44-46 who sell veal scaloppini and ossobuco ready to cook. Nearby stands stock lamb, both New Zealand and national (which is more like mutton but good for Indian or Moroccan stews), but it is often frozen; on Fridays and Saturdays they are more likely to have thawed meat which can then be cut or ground to order. You could pick up an armadillo as well if your soiree has a pre-Hispanic theme. More tempting are fresh farm turkeys (don’t worry, they’ll remove the head and feet for you) packaged ducks, and, occasionally, free range local ducks which will produce a knockout Peking roast or á l’orange.
Several surprisingly well stocked Asian vegetable stands, the only ones in the whole country, cater to the growing population of Asian immigrants as well as people like me who want to buy bitter melon, long beans, okra, baby bok choy or pea shoots.
The ‘gourmet’ produce stands, meanwhile, offer such hard to get greenies as crinkly kale and Savoy cabbage, tiny haricot vertes or yellow wax beans, celeriac, tiny peas, shelled favas and sweet potatoes.
One lady has fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon and real Italian basil (not the off smelling Mexican variety, which just won’t do for Italian cooking, although it works well as a substitute for Thai basil).
And, of course, there’s Doña Guadalupe, to the left as you enter, who in season, sells an amazing variety of fresh wild mushrooms, including cultivated local porcini. I always see French people at this stand madly stashing chanterelles, giroles and morels, happy to be paying 80 pesos instead of 80 euros. Dried versions are available all year around and make good gifts.
EL MOLINERO PROGRESO
Aranda 26, centro
Open Monday – Saturday 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.
This deceptively small shop sells every spice and grain under the sun. You can get whatever you need to make Indian, Moroccan, Persian, Thai or Russian dishes. As well as Mexican.
DELIRIO DE MÓNICA PATIÑO
Monterrey 116 (corner Alvaro Obregón), Colonia Roma
Tel. 5584 0870
Metro Insurgentes, Metrobus Alvaro ObregónOpen Tuesday-Saturday 9AM-9PM, Sunday until 7; closed Monday
This pretty retro store/restaurant offers artesan products as well as prepared food. Olives and olive oil from Baja California are both green and fruity. A whole shelf is dedicated to a pastel rainbow of house-made marmalades that make good gifts. Breads are varied and of excellent quality.
A small, but well-chosen stock of national wines, in a range of prices from $200-600 are worth sampling – many are unavailable elsewhere. Behind the deli counter, several salads are made fresh daily, as are pâtés and terrines, cakes and tarts. There are European-style but Mexican-made cheeses and cold cuts for sale as well.
Prol. Moliere 495, at (Lago Andromaco and Rio San Joachin) Polanco
This enormous store has a good selection of cookware, knives appliances etc. as well as some baking ingredients like hard to find bread and rye flours.
San Luís Potosí 173, Colonia Roma Tel. 5574-4859
Open Monday – Saturday 10-7, Sun until 6.
This excellent Japanese supermarket stocks other Asian ingredients as well, like Chinese sauces, as well as some fresh produce, meat and tofu. They have freshly made bento boxes and a few tables outside so you can have a pleasant, inexpensive and authentic lunch while you’re shopping. On weekends, the front patio turns into a popular BBQ. Good fish and rice cakes are served sizzling off the coals, although recently I have noticed a disturbing preponderance of Argentine sausages and arrachera, due, I suppose, to popular demand of the ‘gaijin’ customers.
Division del Norte 2515 corner of Londres, (Londres, you will recall, is the ‘Frida house’ street – this place is at the other end of it, about 15 blocks away) Coyoacán
Open Monday – Saturday 9:30-7:30 PM, Sunday 10:30-3:30 PM
Asian cooking supplies, kitchen utensils such as a good variety of woks –this is the best and biggest pan-asian market in the city
Calle Hamburgo Between Florencia and Sevilla, Zona Rosa
There are several Korean markets in a row selling fresh tofu, kim chi and other Korean and general Asian necessities. Numbers 214, where they make huge chunks of meaty fresh tofu, and 238, are my favorites; neither have signs nor numbers, so look for the plain white doors and figure out where they are according to the other numbered buildings.
The Middle East:
Hegel 205, Polanco
Branch in Tecamachalco, Av. de Las Fuentes no. 49-B
Open daily Monday-Wednesday 1 p.m. – 12 a.m., Thursday-Saturday 1 p.m.-2 a.m., Sunday 1–7 p.m.
Tel. 5531- 6940/ 5531-8081
This store, connected to a restaurant of the same name, is a good source for Middle Eastern supplies as well as basmati and Arborio rices, cous cous, olives and fabulous fattening honey desserts.
Av. Cuauhtemoc 160 at Guanajuato, Roma
Open daily 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
This shop and restaurant sells the best Lebanese pastries I’ve ever had. Also available are olives, nuts, couscous and breads. They have a small restaurant which offers light food.
Mamma mia, it’s Italian:
Ayuntamiento 12, centro
Fresa 142, Ciudad Satélite
These stores sell dried pastas in many unusual shapes, as well as semolina (for making fresh pasta) and fresh ravioli. The original store is around the corner from the aforementioned Mercado San Juan.
PARTIMAR GASTRONOMÍA ITALIANA
Rosas Moreno 32 (near Ribera San Cosme) San Rafael
This large shop is located in the old working class neighborhood of San Rafael, only a few blocks from the San Cosme metro stop. It’s a good source for all kinds of packaged products, oils and vinegars, as well as cheeses and meats. They have a smart selection of reasonably priced Italian wines. Several pasta machines are for sale here too. One-day cooking classes are offered periodically – call for information.
CENTRO GOURMET VITTORIO
Prol. Bosques de Reforma 1371, Lomas
This is a store specializing in all kinds of fresh pasta as well as imported cheeses and gourmet
products. See their website: www.vittorio.com.mx
Pardon My French:
CHRISSON GASTRONOMÍA FRANCESA
Cuernavaca 135, corner of Campeche
This French-owned shop sells their own patés and terrines and also offers catering service.
Olivier Dekeyser is a patissier divine. He does Belgian style cakes and pastries to order for any occasion; see his site:
Oy, so ver do I get za pickles?:
Emilio Castelar 204, Polanco
This kosher market which makes more than acceptable pastrami and corned beef if you have a yen for it. But don’t get too excited: it ain’t Zabar’s.
There is a branch in the huge Tecamachalco kosher mall on Av. Fuente de Templanza
at Acapulco 70, near Veracruz , Condesa (entrance inside the parking area, no sign from the street), closed early on Friday and all day Saturday (but you knew that, bubeleh)
They sell an array of nasty looking packaged products but do have matzoh meal, sauerkraut, pickled and creamed herring, horseradish and a few other Jewish grandmother essentials.
CITY MARKET (see website for branch locations) is really a gussied up supermarket, but they do have particularly good meat and fish departments as well as many choices of canned and bottled goods like olive oil and vinegar. The wine selection is excellent
MERCADO ROMA (Querétaro 225, Roma) features a branch of La Jersey (from San Juan, above) and a few other upscale shops.
Kameyama Shachuu is the only shop in the city offering an a array of jewel-like Japanese knives. The showroom is worth a stop even if you don’t do your own sashimi. Knives for all purposes are on display from simple and relatively affordable chef knives to beautiful hand-hewn and understandably expensive examples whose purposes remain a mystery.
Av. Alvaro Obregón 230, Roma Nte.
Open Wednesday – Monday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., closed Tuesday