Updated March, 2015
I take a brief pause from my usual feast or blast review column to fill do-it-yourselfers in on my favorite sources for foreign and artisanal products. Mexico City food shopping will not disappoint the most discerning gourmand.
One stop fancy chow shopping:
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 is the best market in the city to find exotic fresh produce and imported cheeses such as Italian Parmesan, pecorino, fontina, French raw milk brie, Epoisse and the best of Spain: Cabrales, good aged Manchegos and Torta de Cazar (go to Gastronomica San Juan, stall no.162, and its neighbor La Jersey – they will let you sample). They also sell nationally produced and excellent goat, cow and sheep cheese, many from the state of Queretaro and 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 Gray 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 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 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 Oriental 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.
Around the corner from the San Juan is the amazing:
El Molinero Progreso
Aranda 26, centro
Open Monday-Saturday 8-8
They sell every spice and grain under the sun. You can get whatever you need to make Indian, Moroccan, Persian, Thai etc. etc. And Mexican.
Delirio de Monica 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, located on the funky corner of Monterrey and Alvaro Obregón in La Roma, has re-opened and is fit with rustic bistro tables. More importantly, the shelves have been re-stocked with products, almost all of which are artesanally produced and local. 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 $200-400 (pesos) 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
Korean Shops at 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 necesities. 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 1PM-12AM, Thursday-Saturday 1PM-2AM, Sunday 1–7PM
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.
Al Diwan (formerly al Malak) Productos Arabes
Av. Cuauhtemoc 160 at Guanajuato, Roma
Open daily 9:30am-7 pm
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 Gastronomia 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
Is a kosher market which makes more than acceptable pastrami and corned beef if you have a yen for it.
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, sourkraut, pickled and creamed herring, horseradish and a few other Jewish grandmother essentials.
A note to my readers:
See my other blog, Good Food Planet for a fattening report on Paris:
Don Cuevas May 28, 2010
Great list, Nick! Ouch title! We’ll return to the Mercado San Juan area in a few weeks.
We’ve been to Biblos, productos Árabes, on El Salvador near Correo Mayor, Centro, and Al Diwan, another Middle Eastern Store on Avenida Cuauhtémoc (It could be the same place you mentioned. as the location sounds the same.)
I spent very little time in Mikasa on an earlier visit. I must do that in a more leisurely manner.
Also, the flyer from Biblos, or a Google search turned up the Biblos matriz store further south on Av. Cuauhtémoc, but I haven’t gotten that far.
Oddly enough, when we spent 3 days in late Feb,. in the foodie heaven north of Arcos de Belén as far up as Ayuntamiento, we failed to check out the fondas and mercados, etc that you described in another post, along Calle López.
We’ll try to get there on this next visit.
Luisa Lander May 28, 2010
Great post, but you neglected to mention that in the Mercado San Juan there are two or three stalls that sell Chinese ingredients, and next door to the market on Calle Pugibet there is a fairly large store selling Chinese ingredients.
Nicholas Gilman replies:
I do indeed mention the stands that sell Chinese ingredients -“Oriental vegetable stands” includes and implies Chinese. I did not specify, but perhaps should, that they also sell other Asian products such as condiments,pasta, rice and tofu as well.
Felipe May 29, 2010
Good work, señor.
Adriana June 6, 2010
Greetings from Italy!
Michael WolfJune 8, 2010
Two things I’ve tried without success to find:
1. Cast-iron cookware. I’ve seen some at Palacio, but it was crazy overpriced. And I repeat myself.
2. Sourdough starter. I’ve tried making my own, but as I’m a novice baker, being able to use a proven starter would make things easier.
Any thoughts? Unfortunately, few of the people I’ve asked have even heard of either.
Nicholas Gilman replies:
I have definitely seen and bought cast iron cookware at Anfora, a chain of cookware stores of mixed quality. There is one at the corner of Lopez and Ayuntamiento.
As for sourdough starter, that’s a tougher one. You might try going over to Rosetta (see my earlier post). They do sourdough breads there and maybe you can finagle a little out of them. Otherwise, I think an international smuggling operation would be called for.
Michael Wolf October 11, 2010
Followup: I haven’t been to the Ánfora at Ayuntamiento and López, but the one a block away, at the corner of Victoria and López, does have a limited selection of cast iron stuff. Worth mentioning that not all Ánforas are created equal: they didn’t have any at the 16 de septiembre branch, and none of the three people there I spoke to was entirely sure what I was after. (It’s called “hierro fundido.”) On the other side of Eje Central, they knew right away.
I also got a sourdough starter going on my own, finally. In addition to the usual wheat flour and water, the procedure I followed called for small amounts of salt and malt powder and a fair amount of rye flour. Fortunately, I already had the latter two, which I’d bought at the Súper Oriental on División del Norte, of all places.
Okie Girl October 21, 2010
I’m new to Mexico City so could you mention a colonia where the intersections are located for the cast iron cookware?
Nicholas Gilman replies:
You can get cast iron cookware at Anfora; there is one at the corner of Lopez and Ayuntamiento in the centro, near the Mercado San Juan. The nearest metro stop is Salto de Agua.
Carie January 22, 2011
Living in Cuernavaca. Looking for Thai ingredients, especially galanga, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. Any ideas, I’m willing to drive to Mexico City.
Nicholas Gilman January 22, 2011
Sorry, ‘galangal’ (not ‘gangala’) is pretty much impossible to find here. Your best bet is to have someone bring some dried from US or Asia. Same goes for kaffir lime leaves. Lemongrass, on the other hand, is available as ‘té de limón’ in any Mexican market. However, they usually cut it off above the thick white part which is the part you need for Asian cooking. It is easy to grow, however.
Michael Wolf July 16, 2012
I bought a 3 piece set of cast iron stuff at a Best Buy a month or two ago. I paid something like MXN $800 for it. And I saw galangal (but it was spelled ‘galanga’ or maybe even ‘gangala’ — it definitely didn’t end with an l) at Súper Oriental yesterday.
Nicholas Gilman replies:
Michael, ‘galanga’ is a legitimate spelling. But was it fresh or dried? The fresh is very rare here, sometimes they have it fresh/frozen in the San Juan market. And dried is not a great substitute as it loses a lot of flavor, but it’s better than nothing.
Tom Johnston July 16, 2012
Wonderfully useful post, thank you Nick!
Michael Wolf July 16, 2012
Dried. Sorry, should’ve mentioned that.