Where do I find Mexican groceries in Boston? It’s the question I’ve been asking myself since I moved here two and a half years ago. Where I grew up in Houston, there was a carnicería, a panadería, and a washatería (lol) within a two mile radius of my house. Plus, the local HEBs and Krogers carried most of the Mexican ingredients my family ever needed. The obvious lack of Mexican grocers here in Boston has become more acutely noticeable over the past few weeks as I’ve been cooking more traditional meals and searching for more obscure ingredients for the blog. Due to my geographic location, I’ve relied on my mom to mail me dried chiles and have ordered other items online rather than drive 20-40 minutes to a Latin American food grocer. This past week though, my search for cal mexicana- pickling lime used to nixtamalize masa- finally pushed me to up my search for Mexican foods. The results of that search are listed below; they are not numbered or ranked in any particular order. (Actually, they are listed in the order of how far they are from my apartment.) I hope this list is helpful to all of you in Boston!
I want to give credit where credit is due. This post from chowhound and this post from yelp informed my search. Plus, actually driving around and looking for stores in the more Latino parts of Boston led me to a few others.
- El Chavo Mexican Products
4254 Washington St, Roslindale, MA 02131
El Chavo offered no produce when I visited this past week. It did have a decent stock of Mexican spices, candy, and chips. They also had some underwhelming “Central American” cheeses and meats in their coolers. All in all, the name seems a little misleading since this store is not exclusively Mexican and seems to offer more Central American/Caribbean foods.
Good for: that Takis or Jarritos fix
- Tropical Foods (El Platanero)
450 Melnea Cass Blvd, Boston, MA 02120
This is a newer grocery store in Dudley Square. They offer a decent amount of produce and a great variety of both Latin American and Caribbean (Jamaican, Haitian) groceries. If you are like me and parking is a selling point, then rejoice! They do have a small parking lot, which is huge for Boston. Although they did have a decent stock of Mexican goods, as the name indicates, they include foods from many places, which means they carry a pretty generic offering of Mexican goods. Also, apart from a half-aisle that consists of your run-of-the-mill Mexican products (hard taco shells, salsa, etc.), the Mexican ingredients are spread throughout the store, making them a bit difficult to find. For example, I found Abuelita hot chocolate near the cookware section and Tapatío hot sauce among Jamaican hot sauces.
Good for: plantains, legumes, basic Mexican items, and parking!
- Super Ahorro Market
306 Bennington St, East Boston, MA 02128
Don’t be deceived by Super Ahorro’s small size; out of all the stores I visited, it carried the most useful Mexican products. There is one small cooler dedicated to produce, like avocados and fruits. I found two racks dedicated to Mexican spices ranging from tamarindo to pepitas to chiles secos. They also had drink mixes to make atole, horchata, etc. as well as Mexican brand soaps and household products. Overall, I was impressed by the variety of goods they packed into a very small space. One disappointment was getting home and realizing that the tamarindo was overly dry; it seems like some of their imported goods might be a little old, so check before you buy!
Good for: Specific Mexican spices and household products (jabón Zote anyone?)
- El Sol Food Market
353 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128
El Sol is a small grocer in East Boston. It had a small selection of produce: peppers, fruit etc. It also had generic Latin American foods. It was kind of sparsely stocked overall. I didn’t look around too much since I’d just been greatly impressed by Super Ahorro, which was right across the street.
Good for: being across the street from Super Ahorro : )
- Chelsea Market Basket
170 Everett Ave, Chelsea, MA 02150
Ok, so I know Market Basket isn’t a Mexican or Latin American foods grocer at all, but due to their large size and location they had a pretty good variety of Mexican foods. This was one of the few places where I found more than one variety of masa harina (corn flour). Not that Market Basket needs any advertising, but if you’re hoping to find all your Mexican produce and dry goods in one place, this might be your best bet. However, you should come early for produce since by the time I showed up (7pm) they had run out of jalapeños and cilantro. 🙁
Good for: One stop!
Other stores I have yet to visit:
- La Internacional Food Corporation
318 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143
- Amigos Grocery Store
86 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145
- La Favorita Market
66 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
- La Chapincita Market
424 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453
In Conclusion: Boston is not the Southwest. There is no one-stop place where you can find Mexican sweet bread, dried chiles, crema fresca, AND tomatillos. Oh how I miss you Michoacana and Fiesta! Overall, I recommend that you try the store that is nearest to you geographically and that you call ahead to ensure that they carry whatever you are looking for. I know this list is by NO MEANS comprehensive, so if you know of another place that I may have missed, please share in the comments. Also, here’s a long list of all ethnic grocers in Boston and the surrounding areas if you want to do some more research. Finally, if you stumble upon some cal mexicana let me know where you found it and I will be forever grateful!