Help Me Find Seattle's Mexican Uwajimaya
April 29, 2007 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Where are all the Mexican groceries in Seattle?

I recently got my hands on this fantastic book and love cooking from it, but I'm having a hard time sourcing things like dried chiles (Safeway has guajillos, but not dry chipotles or anchos, for example), cumin seeds, etc. I'd also love to be able to buy fresh masa, or at least locally made corn tortillas.

I know about the Mexican Grocery in Pike Place Market, and while it sounds like it would be perfect - and I intend to check it out - it's hard for me to get down there when they're open.

I realize that Seattle doesn't have a huge Hispanic population (and that it's sort of famous for bad and/or inauthentic Mexican food), but it seems like there should be other places that would have what I'm looking for. Dried chipotles, for instance, are really not that obscure (and yes, I know about the excellent canned alternative).

I'm willing to travel a bit, but suggestions near North Seattle are particularly welcome.
posted by rossination to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Driving over to Yakima will solve all your Mexican shopping needs, of course. But most of what you want (minus the fresh masa) can be found at any big store with a decent "international" section -- the U Village QFC, for example. Things like cumin seeds will more likely be kept with Indian food, rather than Mexican, but they will be available, as are at least some dried chiles. There are also a lot of online purveyors of dried chiles and the like, although I've never ordered from any of them.
posted by Forktine at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2007

Response by poster: I hadn't thought to check QFC, as I hate going there. But would they really have the different kind of dried peppers? I assumed that their selection would be similar to the one at Safeway.
posted by rossination at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: I believe there's a Mexican market on the east side of Greenwood Ave between 85th and 87th. I don't know whether they carry masa, however.
posted by Danelope at 2:07 PM on April 29, 2007

Central Market might have what you need.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2007

Seattle's Hispanic population seems to be concentrated around the South Park neighborhood. If I were you, I'd look there. Also, if you're really hard-pressed for time, a lot of mainstream grocery stores will do special orders.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:35 PM on April 29, 2007

I'm guessing that there's Mexican groceries in South Park, but I could be wrong.
posted by carterk at 2:35 PM on April 29, 2007

If you can't find what you need in South Park, head up the hill to White Center.
posted by slowstarter at 3:00 PM on April 29, 2007

Not a full-on Mexican market, but the Central Market/Ballard Market/Greenwood Market stores have a much better selection of ethnic groceries than Safeway and QFC.
posted by GaelFC at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: While you're checking out the Mexican Grocery, head down to the nearby World Spice, which has a good selection of all kinds of spices, including dried peppers. They're open daily.
posted by sculpin at 4:15 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: Beacon Hill has a small Mexican grocery or two (I haven't been in there so I can't tell you whether they have exactly what you need), and the Red Apple on Beacon Ave has an aisle of Mexican food that I am pretty sure includes the peppers you are looking for. El Centro de la Raza is right across the street, and in the last few years there have been a lot more Hispanic people moving onto the Hill, so Red Apple expanded the Hispanic food aisle to accomodate them. (Sadly, they cut back on the Asian food at the same time, though they still have much more than most other grocery stores. I wish the store was big enough that they could have more of both cuisines.) There are other parts of the store with lots of Mexican food items, too -- look over in the meats aisle for queso fresco, horchata, etc.

I haven't been in any shops in South Park, but I agree, that is definitely the first place to look.
posted by litlnemo at 4:18 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: Never been in any of them, but there are more little Hispanic grocers than you can shake a stick at in South Everett and north Lynnwood. The Mexican butcher shop on Evergreen between Everett Mall Way and Boeing Freeway comes to mind. It seems to me there is also a place called the Tortilla Factory on Hwy 99 in Lynnwood (which yes, means it's down the road a couple miles).

Maybe farther north than you had in mind? Sorry, that's sort of where the action is. Lynnwood is also where it's at if you ever need Korean food/ingredients. Pal-Do World (yet further down 99) also carries things like big packages of jalapenos, which one can turn into chipotles with a little know-how and fire.
posted by ilsa at 5:04 PM on April 29, 2007

IIRC, the Safeway in Port Orchard (out of the way, i know) had that kind of stuff, but it was hidden out of the way. They were in small clear plastic bags. I think they were around the produce area. That Safeway was pretty screwed up on the placement of their goods, though.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:57 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: Whole Foods has a decent selection of dried chiles and spices if you're not up for a trip to Pike Place. They've got masa harina, too, which can be as good as fresh masa depending on what you're going to make with it. (If you find a place in the north end with fresh masa, though, I'd love to know about it.)
posted by hades at 10:42 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: There are lots of small mexican markets popping up in north Seattle. There are actually two between 85th and 87th on Greenwood, and I've seen more north on aurora towards shoreline. Also, the new asian market that went in to the old Larry's at Oak Tree Village (~100th on Aurora) has a Mexican section with lots of packaged goods, and, if I remember right, also has a decent selection of fresh chillis too.

There are also a lot to the south, but that won't be any easier to get to than the one in the market. We went to a cool butcher (carniceteria?) down around burien once.
posted by Good Brain at 11:11 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: I'm sorry I can't help with your question, but as I'm mexican and I've lived here all my life, I don't see how dried chipotles are really that essential. I've only ever used the canned ones. Also, fresh masa? Huh? What does fresh imply? Here (as in, my town), we either buy corn tortillas at the supermarket (made right there, so yes, fresh) or we make them out of Maseca which is pretty much packaged as regular flour.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 12:19 AM on April 30, 2007

Forgot to say: I hope you *do* find a good place that sells Mexican foodstuffs. Almost anything with chile guajillo or chile ancho tastes's just the dried chipotles that I don't understand.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 12:22 AM on April 30, 2007

Response by poster: CrazyLemonade, thanks for the chipotle info. I hadn't used dried before, and I suppose I just assumed that they were better. But your anecdote is reassuring; I won't be as caught up with finding dry chipotles.

As far as fresh masa, I was looking to make some of my own tortillas; in his book, Bayless reccomends trying to get fresh masa (it's like a dough, right?) if you can, and if not to use Maseca masa harina.

And yes, guajillos and anchos FTW. I'll post a followup here after I get a chance to do some grocery shopping next week.
posted by rossination at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2007

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