A Brief Introduction To Latin Markets

Cinco de Mayo // Photo by Tony Saunders

Cinco de Mayo Mercado // Photo by Tony Saunders

If you’ve never crossed the threshold of a Latin market, rest assured that you’re missing out. The Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area has dozens and they offer ingredients, culinary tools, and flavors that simply can’t be had anywhere else.

The markets feature amenities including (but not limited to!) an en-suite taqueria, hot bar, extensive deli with taco/burrito meat, kitchenware, breakfast, bakery (panadería), fresh frozen treats (paletería/gelatería), piñatas, housemade tortillas and/or tamales, a generously sized spice aisle (at prices that are fractional when compared to general-purpose grocery stores) and/or sprawling dried chili aisle (with prices and variety that put anything but Asian markets to shame.) Most focus on Mexican food, but markets with Central or even South American products are present throughout the metro, too.

Once you’ve bounced around through a dozen or so Latin markets, you’ll get a feel for how every market has its own unique blend of atmosphere and products, and for what specialty sections are your go-to.

The list that follows is just a taste of a few of our favorite spots, and an invitation to you to get out and experience them (and others).

El Burrito Mercado

175 Cesar Chavez St. • St. Paul

This St. Paul market is an institution for a reason—the large, well-organized market has one of the best collections of kitchenware including tortilla warmers and presses in the area, and a restaurant that does a huge business around the clock, including breakfast. The store’s Minneapolis location on Chicago Avenue is also worth a visit.

Amenities: Restaurant (with breakfast service), hot bar, deli with taco meat and more, kitchenware, baked goods, spice and hot pepper aisles.

Cinco de Mayo Mercado

3733 Nicollet Ave. • Minneapolis

While small, the cramped confines of Cinco de Mayo offer one of the area’s most ambitious Mexican market hot bars, racks of baked goods, and an impressive selection of spices and hot peppers.

Amenities: Extensive hot bar, deli with taco meat and more, baked goods, spice and hot pepper aisles.

Super Mercado Morelia

1417 E Lake St. • Minneapolis

Located near the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, Super Mercado Morelia has one of the biggest and most awe-inspiring delis (with taco meat for days), and small, simple, window-based in-store restaurant that serves up seriously nourishing and delicious homestyle food.

Amenities: Restaurant, extensive deli with taco meat and more, kitchenware, baked goods, piñatas, spice and hot pepper aisles.

La Alborada

1855 E Lake St • Minneapolis

Long one of our favorite taquerias (for tacos including lengua and cabeza), La Alborada is also a full-service shopping experience with extensive fresh fruits and vegetables, tortillas, spices, hot peppers, a deli, and more.

Amenities: Taqueria/restaurant, deli with taco meat and more, baked goods, piñatas, spice and hot pepper aisles.

Colonial Market & Restaurant

2750 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis

The newly overhauled and expanded Colonial Market is like at least three shops in one: a taqueria, a gelatería/paletería (your destination for sweet frozen treats) and a market with a serious deli presence.

Amenities: Taqueria, baked goods, paletería (ice cream and popsicles), hot bar, kitchenware, spice and hot pepper aisles.

Supermercado Loma Bonita

Five locations including St. Paul, Savage, Crystal, Hilltop, and Monticello

A suburban powerhouse of a chain, the Supermercado Loma Bonita group serves St. Paul and a variety of suburbs with large, well-organized shops that offer a variety of amenities.

Amenities: Vary, but can include baked goods, spice aisle, dried chilis, deli, and taqueria.