Pounds and Pounds of Limes
According to the manager, Carnicerias Jimenez goes through 42 50-pound boxes of limes a week. That's 2,100 pounds of limes of a week!
Carniceria Jimenez stocks dozens of kinds of chiles, but dried red guajillos are by far the most popular. Most are sold in large plastic bags.
Other popular dried chiles include mulato, arbol, pasilla, ancho, and New Mexican, but there are definitely more.
One of my favorite stops is the spice section. These bags are often much cheaper than spices you'll find elsewhere around town, and the selection is truly impressive.
The most popular fresh chile is the standard jalapeño, though they are also carry many other fresh chile options.
Watch out, these are spicy. Even the manzano peppers, which are located just above the habaneros, have some real heat.
Ever tried xoconostle? Neither have I. It's apparently a kind of cactus and can be used in salsas.
These are smaller than most I've encountered.
When peeled and eaten raw, jicama has a texture sort of similar to an apple, but without the sweetness.
Most of the tomatillos are sold with their husks still on, though you can buy them with the husks off.
Jimenez also goes through an epic amount of fresh cilantro. This partly explains why it is so cheap here.
But the store also carries a number of other herbs, including some that are hard to locate elsewhere like epazote and hoja santa.
I've always wondered about these, but never knew what to do with them. Apparently, you can eat the seed inside of these long flat beans.
Fresh Garbanzo Beans
Ever seen fresh garbanzo beans (otherwise known as chickpeas)? You can find them at Jimenez.
Watch out, these cactus paddles still have their spines on. Luckily, it's easy to peel them off. If you're not interested in testing your luck, there are also canned nopales.
Because the store goes through so many avocados, they are both cheaper and in better condition than the ones you'll find at other grocery stores.
Jimenez has a huge section of fresh masa, which you can use to make tortillas, tamales, and other delectable masa-based dishes.
Blue Corn Masa
You can even make blue corn tortillas if you'd like. I suppose morado actually translates to purple, but I'm going with what it says on the packaging.
House Made Salsas
Jimenez also prepares some fresh salsas daily. The red one is the most popular.
And if you ever need a huge sheet of fried pork skin, this is your place.
If you're not into the fresh chicharrón, you can also buy packaged versions.
I didn't even notice they were down there, but below most of the produce are bags and bags of dried beans.
You can also buy enormous cans of the purple corn.
Next door is a bakery, so Jimenez gets fresh deliveries of bread throughout the day.
I'm very familiar with Jarritos (located on the top left shelf), which is produced in Mexico, but I haven't tried most of these.
Cheese and Crema
The V&V Supremo brand of cheeses and crema is actually located in Chicago, as are a number of other brands catering to the Mexican population in the area.
Instead of dozens of brands of bacon, numerous brands of chorizo line the bottom of the refrigerated case.
If that weren't enough chorizo, Jimenez also produces its own version, which you can purchase in the butcher section.
El Milagro Tortillas
As I've already explored, Chicago has a shocking number of excellent tortilla factories. Jimenez carries most of them, including El Milagro.
All the fresh tortillas are located in front of the butcher case. The store gets fresh shipments throughout the day.
Tortillas de Nopal
I was surprised to find cactus flavored tortillas from Los Comanches, which I've never tried before.
According to my guide, these fruit juices by Jumex are very popular. You can cook with them, but most people just drink them.
So Much Tripe
Not only does Jimenez carry tripe, it carries multiple versions of the cow stomach. Most of it is used to make menudo, a filling Mexican stew.
Patas de Res
Yep, these are cow feet.
You can also buy meat that has been marinated and is ready to be tossed on the grill.
Beef tongue is actually used often in Mexican cuisine. It's often paired with a tomatillo sauce.
Jimenez sells loads of freshly rendered lard.
Flor De Calabaza
Zucchini flowers are only available during part of the year, but you can buy a canned version here.
Cured Pork Rinds
This corn fungus is used often in fillings for tacos and quesadillas.
So Much Mole!
There are numerous different brands of mole paste, which needs to be cooked with chicken broth before it can be served. Interestingly, the Jimenez brand isn't made in the store. In fact, it's made in Mexico and shipped over in bulk.
Canned Chiles and Pickled Vegetables
As you can tell, canned chiles and other pickled vegetables are very, very popular. In particular, the chiles en adobo and pickled jalapeños take up most of the shelf space.
Don't want to cook that tripe yourself? Pick up a can of menudo, which pairs the tripe with hominy.
I wasn't lying about the canned nopales.
There are too many of bottles of hot sauce to name, but this is one of my favorite. El Yucateco is produced in the Yucatan in Mexico, and the habanero version deserves its "xxxtra hot sauce" distinction.
The grocery manager explained that this popular hot sauce can be drizzled on just about anything, from peanuts to ice cream to fresh mango.
Along with dried beans, you can get just about any bean in can form.
I was told that it is really hard to get this brand in Chicago, but the store goes out of its way to procure some. The "curdled milk dessert" apparently tastes like flan.
Asked what the most popular cookies are, the manager said that it was definitely whatever brand of Maria cookies happens to be on sale.
Other Mexican Desserts
Coffee and Teas
The coffees come from all over Latin America. Most of the teas come from Mexico, including the diet tea and one that will help increase desire.
This unrefined cane sugar is popular in Mexico and in other Latin American countries. It's sold in large hunks that you break off as needed.