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Mac Daddy of Mexican Grocery Stores

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I was shopping in my favorite Mexican grocery this weekend and thinking - "this has to be the best Mexican grocery within a hundred miles". Now, I haven't been every Mexican grocery within a hundred miles, but if you live in the East Bay, in or near Concord, try Las Montanas on Willow Pass Rd and tell me if I'm right. This is not your basic mom and pop - it's a large, well-capitalized business with high standards for quality and cleanliness. It occupies a former Smart and Final store and includes a tortilliaria, a taqueria, and a bakery. Best of all, they have a full service butcher and a beautiful meat/poultry/fish case.

Here's the stuff that makes me smile while shopping:

• Fresh rendered pork lard

• Corn tortillas still warm from their original baking!

• Masa

• Chilaca chiles

• Fresh Epazote

• Mexican thick cream in the butcher case

• Mexican Cokes

• Equipment – lime squeezers, molcajetes, etc

• Palettas - popsicles made from actual fruit as opposed to some chemical from a factory in New Jersey

• Pork Tamales

• Mineral lime for making masa (I'd never buy this in a million years but it's cool they have it)

• The real undiscovered gem of beef cuts - flap meat - for $3.69 lb.!

• Marinated meats ready for the grill

• Mesquite lump charcoal

• Great prices

Best of all - no smell (which is more than I can say for the Asian grocery up the way). So am I wrong? What is the best Mexican Grocery in Northern CA? Spread the word . . . :smile:

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Is this "Las Montanas Mini Market" on 1725 Willow Pass Rd?

I'll be in Concord this afternoon, but there were many matches for Las Montasas -- apparently they have several restaurants of that name up there. This was the only market one I saw.


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Fortunately for me, we have in southern California the string of Vallarta SuperMercados or Supermarkets that have been adding new stores at a phenomenal rate.


I recommend these stores to anyone who wants to find great produce at terrific prices, authentic Mexican, Central America and South American foods.

Their meats are also excellent and there are real live butchers to cater to your needs.

The in-store tortilla bakery produces wonderful corn and flour tortillas. You can also buy prepared masa for tortillas or the masa made special for tamales. They carry an extensive range of Mexican dairy products.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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That's the one - the "mini" mart listing is old. They've since expanded into a new location, which is when they really got good. What about 99 Ranch markets? Are they worth seeking out?

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No idea if it was the best, but i've had fond memories of my mom telling me about the "pink elephant" on the east side in SJ. No idea why i'm mentioning it becuase they are closed down i beleive, heh.

Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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What about 99 Ranch markets? Are they worth seeking out?

Ranch 99's are great for Asian foodstuffs and excellent seafood, often live. They are also the only place where I have seen pork belly for sale.


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At the intersection of King and Story in San Jose is a pretty awesome set of two supermercados, La Tropicana and Mi Pueblo. You can see pictures here:


The Fiesta chain in Texas is pretty impressive, if you haven't seen it. How big is this place? Size of a Safeway? Size of a Whole Foods? Smaller?

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OK - cue the music from Deliverance. It's network battle of the Mexican groceries! It's actually not as big as a Safeway or Whole Foods. Think strip mall Smart & Final. I have to say though - the pics you posted made me reconsider the whole hundred mile thing. It's sure great to have an excellent ethnic market close by. Makes me smile to shop there.

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