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Feb 25, 2009 05:52 PM

ISO mexican ingredients

hello chowhounders,

i'm currently staying with a friend in LA and have been enjoying awesome mexican food here!

i've had some pretty mediocre mexican food while in toronto (not horrible but not like here and other parts of the US). so i'm thinking about making it myself!

where can i get really good mexican ingredients? old el paso ain't gonna cut it!


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  1. Kensington Market. There are two stores on Augusta (Perola and Emporio Latino I believe) should have most if not all you need.

    What are you looking for?


    4 Replies
    1. re: wontonfm

      hi won,

      tks for the recos.

      i'm looking for good salsa, enchilada sauce, corn tortillas, beans, etc.


      1. re: lilaki

        Hey Lilaki, there's also La Tortillaria on Duffering/Bloor which is their grocery mart. They're recent immigrants from Mexico City so I'm very sure they could help sourcing out hard to find ingredients. That said, I inherited a salsa recipe from my uncle during his time living in the Mission in SF during the 60's (when it wasn't gentrified and was almost exclusively Mexican) and I made it with ingredients that are all locally available (except the Guajillo Chillies which can be found at most Latin American Grocery stores). It was phenomenal. Additionally, La Tortillaria also makes fresh corn tortillas.

        1. re: goodcookiedrift

          I'm sure poking around La Perola and Emporio Latino on a weekend will uncover a lot of the authentic ingredients necessary to make Mexican recipes that will be leagues above anything on offer right now in Toronto restaurants. A little advance prep on the weekend is plenty of time to make your own homemade enchilada sauce and a salsa fresca that will make your tastebuds sing. Neither is difficult, so don't shy away from doing this. Guacamole a la minute is also a cinch to make. You can pick up Mexican chorizo in Kensington, along with chiles, dried beans and the right kind of cheese for sprinkling on top of your beans and enchiladas. The toughest ingredients to find in Toronto, imo, are nopales (fresh cactus paddles), fresh serrano peppers (jalapenos are a decent alternative, but not the same) and epazote, which is impossible to find fresh (don't bother with dried -- it's not an acceptable substitute). An amazing Mexican meal is a bit of an undertaking, but a worthwhile weekend project that will yield wonderful leftovers for lunches during the week. The most important tool for you to source out is some gloves to protect your hands while handling chiles. I mean it. Don't skip this step, especially if you suffer from dry, cracked skin. Buen provecho!

          1. re: goodcookiedrift

            mmmm. homemade salsa! would you please share the recipe??

      2. Jeesh, load up on dried chiles in LA! I did when I was in PHX in 11/08. You'll get freshness, variety and prices you won't see here--besides, they're practically weightless and cheap. Skip bottled anything since it won't make it onto the plane.Epazote is weed-like and hardy and grows here--get seeds from Richter's.

        1. hi chowhounds,

          just a quick FYI ... i found corn tortillas in the loblaws @ 427/burnhamthorpe! i couldn't believe it! they're in the yogurt/packaged cheese section hidden behind a post.

          WAY better than the PC brand tortillas, IMHO ...

          1 Reply
          1. re: lilaki

            They're also at NoFrills around Mississauga. Some stores also carry corn husks for tamales and a reasonably good range of standard canned chiles and salsa. Highland Farms at Matheson+Hurontario in Miss. carries Mexican-style cheeses, too.

          2. On a recent visit to Whole Foods, I found 3-4 different brands of corn tortillas. At St Lawrence market, there are a few places to get things. On the weekends, there's a guy with a stand (near the honey shop) that sells fresh chips, salsas, dips, etc. They're all very good. In Lively Life, they have an assortment of dried chilies (they're kind of all over the store, so you have to go hunting). And in the north part of the market, there used to be (haven't been in a while) a guy that also sells fresh corn tortillas and lots of prepared stuff.

            1. There's a Latin store (I forget its name - somethingorother Latino) in a shopping plaza on the northwest corner for Hurontario and Dundas, in Mississauga. Nothing to make the stall owners in the main tienda of Mexico City loose any sleep, but still, a good source for tortillas, botlled and canned goods, etc.