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Feb 9, 2012 09:09 AM

Latino grocers in the Boston area?

Now that Hi-Lo Foods in Jamaica Plain is gone, what do you think is the best Latino/Caribbean food market in the Boston area?

Thanks for any suggestions you have.

Blake Gumprecht

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  1. Chelsea Market Basket: I heard the heavenly choirs singing the first time I walked in there. Gigantic, spotless, incredible dairy and produce and meat departments, two entire Goya aisles, spacious enough to easily accommodate their SUV-sized shopping carts, no demolition derby going on in the huge parking lot, and excellent prices. Worth the trip and Tobin toll.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      MC Slim JB this may seem odd as a proponent of the Chelsea MB, but it has its limitations as far as Latino specialties and those are even a bit more pronounced with the larger store (in committing aisle space to larger vendors and having to handle larger volumes, they got rid of some smaller producers particularly for dairy -- Salvadoran, Columbian and Guatemalan products they no longer carry). It is an excellent overall source for Latino staples. They also don't carry Herdez which was a big line at Hi-Lo, but if you add the nearby Compare supermarket in your round you can get some additional dairy products and a bigger line of frozen goods plus other specialty items.

      If Hi Lo was local to the OP, they might consider Price Rite in Hyde Park which carries a decent line of latino oriented staples, although not even the selection of Market Basket (I am basing this on Lynn/Revere, but I expect they are taking advantage of the HiLo departure). There have been a few smaller store openings South of Boston which folks have mentioned on the board which sound very interesting for specialty items and Mexican baked goods, but I don't track as much.

      On my personal route I frequent all of Tony's Foodland, La Sultan Market, Amigo's Market, and sometimes La Internacional in Somerville. The combination gives me a wide selection, including Salvadoran specialties at Amigo's and South American oriented items and some specialty freezer/produce items at La Sultana. La Internacional has the Herdez line, sometimes fresh epazote (not to mention raw cashew halves and a decent dark cocada) and some pan-latin stuff the others don't, so some folks prefer it. The Somerville route also has plenty of nearby Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, and Central American bakeries so for me its a bit of a calorie splurge.

    2. On Hyde Park Avenue in Hyde Park, there is America's Food Basket. It is primarily a Latino/Caribbean market and the selection is quite extensive. Check it out:

      6 Replies
      1. re: bostonhound

        El Chavo in Roslindale has a pretty huge selection of dried chilis (smell them thru the bag smoky chipotles) and all sorts of herbs goin way beyond Epazote into "Wtf is this?" territory.

        Tropical Foods is also close to JP and quite good

        1. re: ix9

          Thanks to all who offered suggestions.

          I went to the Market Basket in Chelsea, Compare, and La Internacionale yesterday and all were disappointing. None had much of a selection of Caribbean specialty items. I went with a list of things I wanted to buy and found few of them. Market Basket didn't have scotch bonnet peppers or bird peppers. Lots of stuff at Compare was past date. I've been to La Internacionale previously and liked it, but looked around yesterday and wondered why. Did there used to be more in the back room?

          I did, however, discover on the way to a wonderful if weird Sri Lankan meal at Biryani Park a great small Haitian Grocer in Malden (J&R Enterprises, 200 Salem Street), with lots of unusual items. They had djon djon (a native Haitian mushroom) and scotch bonnet peppers, just-delivered Haitian meat peas, but alas even they didn't have sauce ti-malice. But the people who were there were so nice, and even offered to call some friends to help me locate the sauce!

          1. re: BlakeGumprecht

            FWIW, I have gotten both scotch bonnet and (Thai?) bird chiles at Market Basket; they've come in a pre-shrinkwrapped styrofoam tray, from somewhere in the produce section, although I don't specifically remember where (Probably somewhere weird, knowing MB, like next to the Brussels sprouts or something...). Maybe they're not an everyday thing.

            1. re: BrettLove

              our lowell ghetto basket always has those peppers too.

            2. re: BlakeGumprecht

              Seems like nobody has suggested Tropical Foods in Dudley Square yet. I think that in terms of items sold, it's most similar to Hi-Lo, and it's also not super far from Jamaica Plain.

              At Tropical Foods, there's definitely more emphasis on Caribbean ingredients (as opposed to Central American), but it's a pretty big store, so they really have most everything. Have definitely seen scotch bonnet chilies there, and they often have good fruit.

              1. re: Dave MP

                2nd Tropical Foods aka el Platanero has things that I'd haven't found else where.

                Rico rice & La Flor brand Adobo con Sazon...both of these are better than Goya's.
                Also management (the Garry family) is really nice too. You can order spices by the case w/10% discount

                Located 2101 Washington ST (corner of Melena Cass Blvd)