Serious Eats: Chicago
Market Tours: Mexican Specialties and 2,100 Pounds of Limes at Carniceria Jimenez
Finding a great Mexican grocery store in Chicago requires little effort. Most neighborhoods seem to have at least one option, including many that have excellent taquerias tucked inside. But it's hard to find one as well stocked and brimming with hard to find ingredients as Carniceria Jimenez.
Back in 1975, the company began with one store in the Little Village neighborhood. Now there are eight different outlets spread all across the Chicagoland area. The main offices are in the North Avenue location, but when I asked if I could tour one, I was taken through the one on Fullerton Avenue, which also happens to be the one I know very, very well. In fact, I've already written about the taqueria located inside, which happens to serve some stunning potato tacos. Plus, I've been shopping at the store since I moved to Logan Square three and half years ago.
But as was the case with the market tour of Joong Boo, even though I knew the store well, getting a personal tour turned up numerous surprises. The one thing that struck me the most this time was the plethora of fresh produce. Not only can you find loads of ingredients necessary for an authentic Mexican meal, but because the store goes through so much stock, you have a pretty good guarantee that those items are fresh and ready to go. Need avocados? These are soft and ready for your guacamole. Limes? How about buying them at a place that goes through 2,100 pounds of limes a week!
By a strange coincidence, the Fullerton store is also in the process of being remodeled, so all the meat cases and fridges are new. Along the way, I also found cactus flavored tortillas, huitlacoche, and more tripe than I ever knew one needed. Take a look at the slideshow to check it all out!
And do you have a grocery store or market that we should visit next? Let us know!